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The authors of That Used to Be Us by Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum. Friedman is among the most influential columnists, while Michael Mandelbaum is among best foreign policy thinkers. Friedman and Mandelbaum offer both a call to collective action and a wake-up call. Friedman is the best-selling writer of The World Is Flat and many other books such as Lexus and the Olive Tree, with which he won a prize. Michael Mandelbaum is the author of a variety of normal books, including The Meaning of Sports.
Relevance of the Book
Friedman and Mandelbaum analyze the main challenges that take place in the contemporary society. These challenges include the globalization, the nation’s chronic deficits, people’s pattern of inordinate energy consumption, and the revolution in computer technology. The authors spell out what Americans need to do to sustain the American dream and maintain the American power in the globe. Friedman and Mandelbaum provide an explanation on how the end of the Cold War led to a blind nation, which failed to recognize the need to address these challenges seriously; and how China has achieved the technological prowess, the industrial might, and the educational success. The authors explain how the American political system, as well as the erosion of American’s key values, made it impossible for Americans to carry out the policies that the country is urgently in need of (Friedman & Mandelbaum, 2011).
It is evident from That Used to Be Us that America will rally when Americans regain their ability to do big things through collective action. According to Friedman & Mandelbaum (2011), collective action refers to the American federal government. Some of the big things that Americans will do include taxation and regulation of carbon emissions, retread American industry, ensure a tremendous increase in the gasoline tax, and levy a carbon tax. The American Government will use revenues to produce a clean energy industry with many of green jobs.
Where the Author Excels
Friedman and Mandelbaum consider the recovery of the American greatness within reach. They show how the history of America provides a five-part formula for success that will enable Americans to cope successfully with the challenges they experience. The authors offer graphic profiles of individuals who still have the sight of the American habits of dramatic action and bold thought. They suggest a clear way out of the challenges that America has experienced, which includes the rediscovery of some of America’s most significant traditions and the formation of a new third-party movement with the purpose of galvanizing the country. That Used to Be Us is both an awakening manifesto for Americans and a renewal exploration of the American today’s condition. The optimism is crucial to the Friedman brand, which explains why readers like his books.
Where the Author Falls Short
Friedman and Mandelbaum call themselves as frustrated optimists because of the ravages of the last decade, which they refer to as the Terrible Twos (Friedman & Mandelbaum, 2011). In addition, self-contradiction characterizes Friedman. In several passages, Friedman and Mandelbaum specifically trace the American slide back to the end of the Cold War. This does not have any significant contribution to their argument because the evidence of diminution they cite include a failing public-education system and crumbling infrastructure, which predates both 1989 and 2001 by a long stretch.
Optimism regarding the American future is the safest bet. According to Friedman & Mandelbaum (2011), it may not matter if the optimism is apparent due to jingles and slogans, and calls for a limitless faith in the ability of government devisers to make exquisite modifications to human behavior. The optimism is crucial to the Friedman brand, which explains why readers like his books.