Book Review: Current affairs/That used to be US by Thomas.L.Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum, Hachette India/2011, 380 pp; Rs599 (Hardback)
World is still not noticing the fading shine of U.S, this is being realised and expressed only through the growing anxiety of insecure future among the mass people and policy makers of U.S. In its idea and shape, this book seems a prolonging exercise of similar mental state, in which Barack Obama saw Bangalore as “buffalo” and Indian youth amazingly competitive over the lazy generation of his own country. He feared, new generation lacks the very strong “U.S exceptionalism” that once made this nation a dreaming land full with unprecedented potential.
In the last six years, since Thomas Friedman had written the bestselling book “The world is flat”, one and half recession (one complete, other is in progress…) and two ultra damaging wars has badly trembled the strong core of nation-materialism. If co-author, Michael Mandelbaum is a man with academic temperament, Friedman stands opposite with his natural flamboyance that has been shaping over the years his hyperbole views in New York Times columns. Though, as a sensitive man, he could sense the shrinking confidence of mass countryman for plethora of innovation which is good for nothing and is in process to endanger the leadership edge of U.S at major global platform. So, book look over the issues of concern without falling in the trap of popular sensationalism which earlier was the case with Friedman. Honest revelations of ground realities are the basic things that readers would enjoy reading throughout the book but only with patient mind and their own labour in decoding casual intents of the authors!
Within the civilised state, U.S has a very short history that can leave the themes for constructive discourses…until few years back, it was not a matter of concern but the same is not true now. The last lines of this book crave for history where the thinking mind of U.S could trace the lost dreams and an unwounded America. The subtle details of the book suggest that the way U.S is moving will be unsustainable in the medium or long term. Hence, both the leadership and its followers must have to be ready for action with well thought models instead luring by structured solutions bound to be doomed.
For the sake of U.S, it’s good if the world is still unaware of the crude facts, how much its artificial supremacy is under the strain and its hard struggle for retrieving its old edge on policy matters. Modesty of observation from outside remains something which U.S has been thoroughly enjoying and still appears its withering away a distant reality. With erotic opulence, it may be likely that U.S would continue its unjustified lead at the decisive global platform for some more years. Another positive factor for U.S is the failure of political of political polarization from the emerging economies and old power blocks including Russia. So, even in deep troubled water, U.S can sail its boat with shrewd skills its conscious applications.
Hope simply can’t be forced to out from normal affairs through reasons are ample to believe that unflat world is still intact and full with the frills. Time has indeed moved up and so are the discourses. Nice to see, with this book a new humble Friedman which he was certainly not during the high time when his world was irrationally flat and friendly!
Atul Kumar Thakur