Longitudes & Attitudes by Thomas L. Friedman

I had the distinct pleasure of being able to hear Friedman, the foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times, speak at the World Affairs Council in Dallas last Fall. An eloquent speaker, Friedman was there to promote his new(est) book, Hot, Flat & Crowded, and discuss how America needs to undergo a green revolution.

My mom had read The World is Flat when it first came out, but Longitudes & Attitudes was the only book available on PaperBackSwap and I figured I should read something of his since five chapters of The World is Flat doesn’t really count. Unfortunately, it didn’t get here in time for me to get it signed by Friedman himself (I’m still bitter about that), and I sort of forgot about it until it was time for me to leave for college.

Longitudes & Attitudes is a reprint of Friedman’s Pulitzer Prize winning opinion pieces before Sept. 11, his article on Sept. 11, and then his articles in the wake of 9/11. There is also a reprint of his journal in the back, which is fun to read because you see how he takes a journal entry and turns it into a story. But that’s not even the real gem of this book; what makes this book so spectacular is Friedman’s ability to convey what he means to his readers. I now understand why the Middle East is so hostile to the U.S. and why the U.S. is so hostile to the Middle East. I understand how we got to 9/11, what we did and should have learned from it, and what the world learned from it as well. I understand things I thought were unexplainable from Friedman as he penned columns in Beirut, Jerusalem, Tehran, and New York City.

And Longitudes & Attitudes is a book that made me think. So many nonfiction books on the Middle East are explanatory, but don’t ask their readers to question themselves and America’s motives. I finished this book with answers to my questions and questions to my answers, and now I can’t wait to get my hands on From Beirut to Jerusalem and The Lexus and the Olive Tree when they arrive from PBS next week.

Book Mentioned:

  • Friedman, Thomas L. Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002. Print. 224 pgs. ISBN: 9780374190668. Source: PaperBackSwap.
Book Cover © Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. Retrieved: September 13, 2009.


  1. I read one of Friedman’s books and then I started this one but I got bored. I liked it to and felt convinced — until someone started talking to me about a completely opposite political theory and I realized this is just one interpretation of the situation. There are other ways of looking at it. I’ve always been wary of political theory, economic theory, etc. because I know I’m only getting one side of the matter. Still not sure where to go to get the entire picture.


  2. @Rebecca: I totally understand. My professor for Global Society basically thinks Friedman is a quack, and I’m certainly getting his perspective on things. However, I did find Friedman’s book extremely easy to understand and a much more enjoyable read than that of my professor.


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