Scathing Book Reviews of The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman

The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman isn’t exactly Airport Reading, but that’s where I bought my copy.  Unfortunately, while I found the back cover blurb interesting and the introduction well written, I found that I couldn’t dig into the book the way I expected.  I attributed this to the environment of the Airport, but even at home, I find it to be pretty dry reading, and not particularly enlightening.

When I do read it, I tend to skip around within it, sort of like I do with The Discoverers.  I know that there are hundreds of glowing reviews, but even though I’ve read many books and articles discussing the same topic, I just find Friedman’s tough to get through, and less convinced than he is about what his “findings” mean.  Perhaps its becaus I lack his perspective, but he seems to be awfully sure of his positions.  These Scathing Book Reviews of The World is Flat think it lacks fizz:

This book will be a revelation to anyone who has been without access to newspapers or cable TV for the past 10 years.

…and:

…As each longwinded chapter unfolded more and more evidence presented itself as proof that this book is all filler. It reads like the publisher paid by the word alone.

..and:

I’ve always hated Friedman. He writes with a manic quality that dodges left and right around inconvenient details or moral evaluations. He simultaneously believes that history has a purpose AND that those who oppose anything that happens in the world are being head-in-the-sanders and obstructionists. He’s an ‘anti-normativist’–if something in the world happens, then, according to Friedman, it was clearly meant to happen and is surely for the best.
 

…and:

I’m not sure how the author can possibly be so fascinated by technology and yet know absolutely nothing about it at the same time, but his endless diatribes about the miracles of PayPal and Microsoft Word are beyond laughable, and I was pretty much in shock when he started citing howstuffworks-dot-com as a technical reference on fiber optics and SOAP.

…and:

Friedman is a quack. He’s made a cottage industry of describing the obvious. There’s nothing serious about his work, whether it’s professional, academic or other.

…and:

It is a mark of Friedman’s approach and personality that he dates the beginning of “Flat World”  phenomena to a few years ago, when he discovered them.

…and:

Outsource Punditry Now. The average call center worker in Bangalore can write a better book than this.

…and:

Horrible book and a waste of money that could have been better spent on some worth while. Maybe the “National Enquirer.”

Scathing Book Reviews of How Starbucks Saved My Life, by

How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill certainly has a catchy title, and Starbucks has saved my life many a morning by getting my heart started with a jolt of caffeine.  I’ve skimmed the book at my local bookstore, but have been hesitant to buy it, because I’m still employed, and it just seems like you’re asking for bad luck if you buy a book about a guy who lost his job.  However, when the Tom Hanks Movie Adaptation comes out I might be tempted to rent it.

In the book, Michael Gill Gates discusses how he, a laid off executive, was able to find new meaning and dignity in life by working at the local Starbucks and doing a lot of cleaning.  I like Starbucks, but as someone once said, the book wouldn’t have sold nearly as well if it was title “How Wendy’s Saved My Life”, and now that the book’s been published and the movie is in development, I don’t think you’re going to see Gates making a Frap anytime soon.  The Scathing Book Reviews of How Starbucks Saved My Life think its a Decaf Americano:

Neil Genzlinger at the New York Times writes:

Some critics will no doubt dismiss “How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else” as promotional pap masquerading as a memoir. This critic, though, views it as one of the most scathing indictments of the advertising business to appear in a long time.

…and from Amazon reviewers:

The fact that the author was an advertising copywriter is way too obvious in this, the longest infomercial I’ve been through.

…and:

…This guy got on my nerves…Everything is so new to him, it’s ridiculous. “Once you get to know them, black people are okay.” “You get 30 minutes for lunch, and it’s really important to be back on time, because the next person is waiting to go to lunch.” He’s never even been in a Wal-mart. There’s something kind of fishy about this guy. Nobody 63 years old living in the U.S., is that naive. His stories about his great advertising and writing skills are not believable. He really doesn’t come across as very bright.

…and:

Although the book is short, I had to skip through much of it, because life is short too.

…and:

If you really like Starbucks, save your money and buy some coffee…not this book.

…and:

How this book wasted an hour of my life…The biggest problem is that the author seems to be writing at an elementary level. He clearly has an interesting story, but nothing that couldn’t be written in a two-page essay.

…and:

The writing and the story are so sugar-coated and sickening sweet I could almost feel the cavities growing in my teeth.

…and:

Actually it’s the perfect book for the whining generation. Everyone else should treat it like the toxic waste it is. I ordered it by accident and didn’t cancel the order in time. Then I made the mistake of actually opening it instead of giving it to someone I really don’t like. Serious error. Don’t you make the same mistake.

…and this review is so scathing, I have to find out what else this guy has read:

This slight memoir of having gone from being El Exigente to a lowly ten-buck-an-hour barrista at a Starbucks–entitled, with only skim irony, “How Starbucks Saved My Life”–is insipid; filled with the sort of hard-won wisdom most of us have learned by the the time we’re half its protagonist’s age, even if we didn’t happen to leave Yale eighteen credits shy of an undergraduate degree. As they no doubt never said in the Gill household, “Oy!”

Book Reviews of Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson is a book that was given out at my company – you guessed it – immediately prior to a series of layoffs. I evaded that series of layoffs, only to join the ranks of the “formerly employed” after September 11th (I worked for a company that was heavy into Business Travel, natch.

I got it, read it, kept it for awhile and I guess I threw it away awhile back. I remember “Who Moved My Cheese” as being an inoffensive but ineffective book, with a simple message – change will happen and you can’t stay still, which is something I already knew prior to getting the book. I sure as heck don’t remember it being helpful to me while I was laid off.

Anyway, Spencer Johnson certainly benefited by it, but these reviewers think there’s a scent of Limburger arising from “Who Moved My Cheese”:

Never have I come closer to the mind crushing monotony and impersonality of corporate America than when I read this book….It’s patronizing, shallow, insipid, and still manages to be patently insulting to those employees who might actually be capable of analytical thought. That’s quite a feat.

…and:

It teaches that you must accept change without regard to whether it is appropriate it not. It teaches that you must not struggle, you must not fight. You must simply accept whatever change happens. This is the perfect book to distribute when a company is going through reorganization.

…and:

Who moved your cheese? I’ll tell you who moved your cheese! Your company’s accountants moved your cheese. And they ain’t gonna move it back, no matter what you do.

…and:

The one saving grace about this book is it’s a quick read. I finished it in 23 minutes.

…and:
In the game show of life, “Who Moved My Cheese?” is Corporate America’s final answer to the lovely parting gift. Spencer Johnson’s book is the literary equivalent of giving an amputee victim a band-aid for his boo-boo.

…and:

The Berenstein Bears of Self-Help Strike Again

…and:

If corporate America’s new trend is reading children’s books they would be better served rereading and analyzing Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches and Other Stories.

…and a great Top 10 list of alternate titles from Amazon Reviewer Kevin Morrill:


#10 “Don’t Take It Personally, Thousands Of People Get Fired Everyday”
#9 “It’s Never Easy Letting Valuable Employees Such As Yourself Go, Bill, I mean, Bob”
#8 “Cheer Up! Nobody Here Liked You Anyway”
#7 “Let Me Say Once Again, The Shareholders Really Appreciate This”
#6 “Hey, You Can Sleep In Now”
#5 “Think Of It This Way: You’re Now In A Lower Tax Bracket”
#4 “It’s Not Like You Lost Your Job…Okay, So You Lost Your Job”
#3 “Look On The Bright Side- You’re Helping Someone Less Fortunate In A Third World Country”
#2 “At Least You’ve Still Got Your Health (Minus The Ulcer, Of Course)”
And my #1 title: “It Could Be Worse, It Could Be Me!”

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Steven R. Covey

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is perhaps the most well known “self help” book of the Late 20th/Early 21st Century. Dr. Covey seems to be absolutely sincere about what he has written, and I have to admit I’ve read it myself. It’s a fairly long read – maybe too long, but I think its good stuff. These reviewers, however, would like the break this particular “Habit” :

If you think that some bozo who’s only interested in making money for himself can help you become a success, think again. You need to talk to a professional. Someone who will help solve your real problems. You must have fallen to some deep, depressing place if you have resorted to reading this trite trash and think it’s good.

…and:

Horrifying: This may be the very worst book I have read in my 37 years. Stuffed with linguistic fluff and stylistic errors, and short on ideas and evidence, the book reads like a map of the capitalist, Christian fundamentalist, anti-intellectual U.S. mind.

…and:

The only thing buying this book helped was Covey’s bank account.

…and:

I figured 10 million readers (as the cover states) can’t be wrong. I pray I’m never trapped in an elevator with any of them.

…and:

If your a Christian and even if your not why not just read the book God wrote for us instead of reading all these “self help” books.

…and this, from a reviewer that wants advice from writers that can “take the heat”:

Covey has done a cut and paste job of other self-help books. it is easy to write a book after having reviewed other people’s books. I respect anthony robbins (after all a man who can make you walk on fire must know something)…

Scathing Book Reviews of The Four Hour Work Week, by Timothy Ferriss

The Four Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss certainly has a compelling title going for it. If there’s nothing more American than the good ‘ol “Protestant Work Ethic” its probably the idea “Get Rich Quick”, with the late 20th century addition of “Without Working for it”. The book has some good ideas about how to make money, or more precisely, how to make money while doing less. Here are some critical reviews of “The Four Hour Work week” by readers who don’t think less is more:

The opening of the book about the dancing contest in South America is especially ridiculous.

…and:

For someone who is promoting the “four hour week” he sure could have cut out the filler from his book and reduced it to four pages or so.

…and:

For God’s Sake people…he has achieved his success selling (what else!) SUPPLEMENTS!

…and:

Mix a handful of shopworn business truisms “20% of customers provide 80% of profits”, “Work always fills the time alloted” with a jaw-slackening disregard for basic ethics and you get Tim Ferriss’s “lifestyle design” plan.

…and:

Interestingly enough, the 80/20 principle also applies to this book. Twenty percent of the book contains 80% of the good ideas. The other 80% is basically tripe about the author hyping himself up and giving unethical advice on how to do business.

…and:

…how seriously can we take a 29 year old author who lives the quintessential peter pan lifestyle.

…and:

I’m sure this guy is making money — selling get-rich-quick books to suckers!

…and:

This book isn’t for people with roots, family or even close friends.