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Book Review: Thank You for Being Late

Spirituality & Health Magazine
reviewed by Kathryn Drury Wagner

Thank You for Being Late
The Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations
By Thomas L. Friedman
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Humans started writing around 3200 BCE. The printing press was invented around 1440 CE. But it took me just .68 seconds to yank both these facts out of the ether, and if I had a lot more time, I could have sorted through 53.1 million results about them. That kind of access, information, and speed is a huge boon to humanity, but it’s also one of the reasons we’re chronically feeling boggled. Thank heavens for Thomas L. Friedman’s excellent new book, Thank You for Being Late.

Friedman is a big-picture guy, known for his best-sellers such as The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. In his newest book, the New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize–winning author brings us first to an important “aha!” moment: everything started speeding up in 2007. That was the year the world first saw the iPhone, Google’s Android platform, the Kindle, the Watson computer, Airbnb, inexpensive DNA sequencing, and Intel nonsilicon microchips. It was, Friedman writes, “One of the greatest leaps forward in history.” Since then, we’ve been on a rocket ship ride where the rate of technology is changing far faster than human adaptation.

Can we cope? Friedman is glad you asked, and for the rest of the book, he seeks answers. Culture, nature, sustainability, spirituality, immigration, globalization—he tackles these subjects, and more, robustly and earnestly. This book winds up as a road map, providing insights and encouragement. In turbulent times, there’s no one you’d want along for the ride more than a sure-handed observer like Thomas L. Friedman.


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