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When you dive into the latest work of a three time Pulitzer Prize winner, you begin with the question of whether or not the author really has something substantive to contribute, or if they have reached the stage in their literary career where they are simply fulfilling the quota of books they signed up for in their last contract. Yes, I have been burned by the works of big name authors who can garner $27.95 per book.
Hot, Flat and Crowded – Why We Need A Green Revolution – and How It Can Renew America is a work that indicates Friedman remains one of the best thinkers, strategists and authors of our time regarding social policy and geo-political strategy development. Frankly, some authors are gifted in observing and conveying what most people cannot see, hear or comprehend. Friedman does exactly that in this book.
“The future does not have to be a Malthusian nightmare — if we think strategically about how to mitigate what we can, adapt to what we can’t, and innovate our ways to new possibilities that right now seem unimaginable. The longer we wait to set out on such a strategic path though, the deeper the pail out of which we will have to climb.”
The essence of the entire book, embracing the challenge in moving to what he refers to as a Clean Energy System is truly captured in a quote Friedman shares (p.265) from Machiavelli’s The Prince:
“It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in introducing a new order of things, because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents — who have the laws on their side — and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. “
Hot, Flat and Crowded is clearly a work that was years in the making. It is a clarion call to action.Honestly, it, in my opinion, is Friedman’s best book. It is in my top 5 for 2008. Finally, I am reminded of a quote from another author that is poignant as it relates to the impact of this work:
“We need voices of dissent that point to another way, creative models that take exception to the givens of society. Obviously, prophetic simplicity runs the risk of excess; but the danger is no greater than the excess of the status quo.“(ii)