That Used to Be Us
That Used to Be Us
How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374288907, 400pp.
Publication Date: September 5, 2011
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.
Michael Mandelbaum is the Christian A. Herter Professor of American Foreign Policy at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., where he is also the chairman of the Department of American Foreign Policy. Before joining Johns Hopkins in 1990, Professor Mandelbaum taught at Harvard University, Columbia University and at the United States Naval Academy. He also has taught business executives at the Wharton Advanced Management Program in the Aresty Institute of Executive Education at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
Mandelbaum is the author of 10 books and the editor of 12 more. "Foreign Policy" magazine named him one of the "Top 100 Global Thinkers" of 2010.
His first book, "The Nuclear Question: The United States and Nuclear Weapons", was published in 1979. "The Economist" called it an excellent history of American nuclear policy...a clear, readable book.
Mandelbaum spent a year in the State Department in Washington from 1982-1983 on a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship in the office of Under Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger, working on security issues.
After publishing three books on nuclear weapons issues, "The Nuclear Question" (1979), "The Nuclear Revolution" (1981) and "The Nuclear Future" (1983), Mandelbaum shifted his focus to the relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States, co-writing two books on the subject, "Reagan and Gorbachev" (1987) and "The Global Rivals" (1988), which was made into a Public Broadcasting series with Bernard Kalb as the host. In 1986 he became a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, where he also was the director of the Council s Project on East-West Relations. In this role, which continued for 17 years until 2003, Mandelbaum became a frequent guest on television and radio, discussing such major issues as the arms race, the fall of the Soviet Union, the war in Iraq and the implications of globalization. He has appeared on "The CBS Evening News", "The News Hour", " Face the Nation", "Larry King Live" and "The Charlie Rose Show", among many other programs.
From 1985-2005 Mandelbaum wrote a regular foreign affairs analysis column for "Newsday". His Op-Ed pieces on foreign affairs have also appeared in "The New York Times", "The Wall Street Journal", "The Washington Post", "The Los Angeles Times", and have been republished in newspapers around the world.
In addition to his newspaper columns, Mandelbaum has written many longer articles for "TIME" Magazine, as well as the journal, "Foreign Affairs", including his provocative 1996 essay entitled Foreign Policy as Social Work (about the foreign policy of the Clinton administration), followed two years later by A Perfect Failure about the war in Kosovo.
In 1988 Mandelbaum published one of his major books, "The Fate of Nations: The Search for National Security in the 19th and 20th Centuries", which the "American Historical Review" called "a tour de force." It is a survey of how a select number of countries have dealt with their security concerns in the modern era. "Publishers Weekly" called it "brilliant and enjoyable.... [Mandelbaum's] knowledge of philosophy, politics, history and economics results in a stunning delineation of centuries of military actions, political maneuverings and cultural uprisings." The World Affairs Councils of America named him one of the most influential people in American foreign policy.
Mandelbaum s 1996 book, "The Dawn of Peace in Europe", received a rave review in "The New York Times Book Review", which called it a brilliant book...the most lucid exposition yet of the post-Cold War order in Europe. It was in this book that he introduced readers to the idea that Europe has become a zone of warlessness a region in which armies are kept small and defense budgets modest because the people and their governments have been able to resolve their differences peacefully through such organizations as the European Union rather than, as in the past, on the field of battle.
In 2002 Mandelbaum published "The Ideas That Conquered the World: Peace, Democracy and Free Markets in the Twenty-first Century", which became an instant classic on the major international themes of the new millennium and has been translated into seven languages, including Chinese and Arabic.
In 2004 he took time out from his usual focus on international relations to write "The Meaning of Sports: Why Americans Watch Baseball, Football and Basketball and What They See When They Do", which analyzes the appeal of team sports in the United States and compares the workings of sports teams to the cooperation necessary in business enterprise. Pete Hamill in "The New York Times" described the book as "a subtle extension of Mandelbaum's own expertise in foreign policy. It can help explain the United States to the rest of the often-baffled world.
In 2006 Mandelbaum retu
“[In That Used to Be Us there] are big truths, and the authors see them clearly and whole. As is usual in Mr. Friedman’s work the power of the core argument is buttressed by detailed reportage and blizzards of specific fact and detail, but the accumulation of anecdote and evidence never detracts from the book’s central thrust. That Used to Be Us is an important contribution to an intensifying debate, and it deserves the widest possible attention.” —Walter Russell Mead, The New York Times
“Friedman and Mandelbaum are men of the American elite, and they write to salute those members of the American elite who behave public-spiritedly and to scourge those who do not. They are winners, writing to urge other winners to have more of a care for their fellow citizens who are not winners. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that! . . . American society has had a big serving of that ugly anti-elitist spirit in the recent past. It could use more of the generous responsible spirit Friedman and Mandelbaum recommend.” —David Frum, The New York Times Book Review
“[An] important and eminently readable book…” —Stanley Hoffmann, The New York Review of Books
“This is a book of exceptional importance, written on a sweeping scale with remarkable clarity by two of our most gifted thinkers. A soon-to-be best seller, it should be read by policymakers and every American concerned about our country's future.” —Elizabeth L. Winter, Library Journal
In his new book, the New York Times columnist explores how the U.S. fell from industrial, political and academic glory after the Cold War. "Just when we needed to be lacing up our shoes and running faster, we put our feet up," he says. More at NPR.org
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