Literary Criticism and Significance
That almost all critics acknowledge Thomas Friedman can write well is no surprise. Friedman won three Pulitzer Prizes, and his book From Beirut to Jerusalem won the National Book Award. His book The Lexus and the Olive Tree won the 2000 Overseas Press Club Award for best foreign policy book. Given Friedman's prominence (President Obama mentioned reading Hot, Flat, and Crowded in 2009), it is no wonder that this book has been widely discussed. Critics of Hot, Flat, and Crowded all acknowledge that Friedman has woven a gripping and at times frightening tale of the world's possible future. What critics do with the book beyond that, though, differs.
For example, business publications acknowledge the threats to both the American economy and current practices inherent, but then they treat it as a challenge to be met (as Friedman would no doubt desire, given his rhetoric throughout the volume). For example, writing for the HR journal People and Strategy, David Miller positions the book mainly for its challenge to existing paradigms. He labels it as a "must read," and praises Friedman for his ability to articulate complex trends but also mentions that some have tagged Friedman as an "extraordinary self-aggrandizer" who oversimplifies and picks his evidence selectively. Annabell Beerel, writing for the New Hampshire Business Review, makes her review of the book into a kind of call-and-response editorial, crying out for a "new paradigm" in which we all have a more holistic and humanistic focus.
Anita McAnear, writing for Learning and Leading With Technology, uses the book as a kind of tool to drive creativity and innovation in education—and education for the goals of creativity and innovation. In an extended review in Business Ethics Quarterly, Dennis Collins provides a lengthy summary of Friedman's points, using them as a springboard to discuss a broad spectrum, holistic ethics of...
(The entire section is 611 words.)