That Used To Be Us by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum


13 Critic Reviews

That Used To Be Us is intended as a wake-up call to America. What it actually does, most of the time, is reinforce the illusions of exceptionalism.
-Financial Times


America is in trouble. We face four major challenges on which our future depends, and we are failing to meet them—and if we delay any longer, soon it will be too late for us to pass along the American dream to future generations.
In That Used to Be Us, Thomas L. Friedman, one of our most influential columnists, and Michael Mandelbaum, one of our leading foreign policy thinkers, offer both a wake-up call and a call to collective action. They analyze the four challenges we face—globalization, the revolution in information technology, the nation's chronic deficits, and our pattern of excessive energy consumption—and spell out what we need to do now to sustain the American dream and preserve American power in the world. They explain how the end of the Cold War blinded the nation to the need to address these issues seriously, and how China's educational successes, industrial might, and technological prowess remind us of the ways in which "that used to be us." They explain how the paralysis of our political system and the erosion of key American values have made it impossible for us to carry out the policies the country urgently needs.
And yet Friedman and Mandelbaum believe that the recovery of American greatness is within reach. They show how America's history, when properly understood, offers a five-part formula for prosperity that will enable us to cope successfully with the challenges we face. They offer vivid profiles of individuals who have not lost sight of the American habits of bold thought and dramatic action. They propose a clear way out of the trap into which the country has fallen, a way that includes the rediscovery of some of our most vital traditions and the creation of a new thirdparty movement to galvanize the country.
That Used to Be Us is both a searching exploration of the American condition today and a rousing manifesto for American renewal.


About Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum

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Thomas L. Friedman is an internationally renowned author, reporter, and columnist-the recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes and the author of five bestselling books, among them From Beirut to Jerusalem and The World Is Flat. He was born in Minneapolis in 1953, and grew up in the middle-class Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. He graduated from Brandeis University in 1975 with a degree in Mediterranean studies, attended St. Antony's College, Oxford, on a Marshall Scholarship, and received an M.Phil. degree in modern Middle East studies from Oxford. After three years with United Press International, he joined The New York Times, where he has worked ever since as a reporter, correspondent, bureau chief, and columnist. At the Times, he has won three Pulitzer Prizes: in 1983 for international reporting (from Lebanon), in 1988 for international reporting (from Israel), and in 2002 for his columns after the September 11th attacks. Friedman's first book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, won the National Book Award in 1989. His second book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization (1999), won the Overseas Press Club Award for best book on foreign policy in 2000. In 2002 FSG published a collection of his Pulitzer Prize-winning columns, along with a diary he kept after 9/11, as Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11. His fourth book, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (2005) became a #1 New York Times bestseller and received the inaugural Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award in November 2005. A revised and expanded edition was published in hardcover in 2006 and in 2007. The World Is Flat has sold more than 4 million copies in thirty-seven languages. In 2008 he brought out Hot, Flat, and Crowded, which was published in a revised edition a year later. His sixth book, That Used to Be Us: How American Fell Behind in the World We Invented and How We Can Come Back, co-written with Michael Mandelbaum, will be published in September 2011. Michael Mandelbaum, the Christian A. Herter Professor and Director of American Foreign Policy at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, is the author or coauthor of twelve books, including The Ideas That Conquered the World.
Published September 5, 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 402 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Business & Economics, Education & Reference, History, Computers & Technology, Science & Math. Non-fiction
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Peak Rank on Sep 25 2011
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Critic reviews for That Used To Be Us
All: 13 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 8


Below average
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews. on Sep 05 2011

While the challenges described in the book are serious indeed, and most readers will agree with much of what the authors explore, the narrative execution is lacking. Disappointing.

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NY Times

Reviewed by WALTER RUSSELL MEAD on Oct 02 2011

Few readers will agree with every observation and argument in this...passionately argued book, but all of them should find “That Used to Be Us” compelling, engaging and enlightening.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by David Frum on Sep 08 2011

For there is an unnerving tension at the core of “That Used to Be Us,” a discordant emotional counterpoint. I don’t think it’s a disagreement between the authors so much as a disagreement within each of them.

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Below average
Reviewed by Peter Preston on Sep 17 2011

...pile on the doom of superpower decline. Funereal orations don't come much more devastating than this. But, on the other hand, they also roll out prescriptions for recovery as smoothly as travelling salesmen.

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Publishers Weekly

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on Sep 05 2011

Broad ranging in its anecdotes and research, conversational (if pedantic) in its tone, and hopeful in its patriotism, they look the challenges of the 21st century squarely in the eye.

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Blog Critics

Reviewed by Joseph Maresca on Sep 11 2012

...a call to action for business, government and consumers everywhere. There needs to be less wasteful consumption...and a search for new revenue sources to normalize the debt.

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WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by ANDREW FERGUSON on Sep 21 2011

If the authors' frustration is unoriginal and ill-defined, their optimism is terrifying.

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Financial Times

Below average
Reviewed by John Gray on Sep 02 2011

That Used To Be Us is intended as a wake-up call to America. What it actually does, most of the time, is reinforce the illusions of exceptionalism.

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The Independent

Below average
Reviewed by Stephen Foley on Sep 16 2011

Whether the country can think the big thoughts needed to reform itself and head off a crisis of democracy that could have profound consequences across the world is a question raised, but frustratingly poorly tackled, in That Used To Be Us.

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Christian Science Monitor

Reviewed by Gregory M. Lamb on Sep 08 2011

Anyone who cares about America’s future – anyone planning to vote in 2012 – ought to read this book and hear the authors’ compelling case.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Reviewed by Robert Knight

As an American reviewing an American book aimed at Americans, I must say, simply: “Read it.” We Americans can still read. Can’t we?

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The Washington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Robert D. Atkinson on Sep 30 2011

Self-contradiction and incomplete analysis also undermine the discussion of what the authors see as America’s formula for success: investing in education, research and infrastructure while expanding immigration and doing smart regulation.

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Business Week

Below average
Reviewed by David Kamp on Sep 29 2011

...they are correct that the time is ripe for big, concrete ideas to renew America. It’s disappointing that they propose none of their own.

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admin 15 Feb 2013

Rated the book as 4 out of 5


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