Thomas L. Friedman's The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century (2005) sold well and was praised by most reviewers. In the book, Friedman argues that there have been three great eras of globalization.
The first one—Globalization 1.0—started with the voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492 and ended in about 1800. During this epoch, Europeans, led by Spain and Portugal, established empires and far-flung trading networks. Intrepid sea captains traveled to remote regions and gave Europe an understanding of global geography. "It shrank the world from a size large to a size medium," Friedman writes.
Other nations—Britain, France, and Holland—joined in the global competition with colonial empires, too. "Globalization 1.0 was about countries and muscles," Friedman argues. In this contest, Britain eventually prevailed; it had the largest navy and best trading and economic system.
Globalization 1.0 lasted until about 1800. After 1800, multinational companies became the dominant players on the world stage in Globalization 2.0. Europeans and Americans were the leaders in both 1.0 and 2.0.