Friedman, Thomas L(oren) 1953-

views updated

FRIEDMAN, Thomas L(oren) 1953-

PERSONAL: Born July 20, 1953, in Minneapolis, MN; son of Harold Abraham and Margaret (a retired real estate broker; maiden name, Philips) Friedman; married Ann Louise Bucksbaum (a copyeditor), November 23, 1978. Education: Brandeis University, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1975; St. Antony's College, Oxford, M.Phil., 1978. Religion: Jewish.

ADDRESSES: Office—New York Times, 1627 I Street NW, Washington, DC 20006.

CAREER: United Press International, correspondent in London, England, 1978-79, and Beirut, Lebanon, 1979-81; New York Times, New York, business reporter, 1981-82, Beirut bureau chief, 1982-84, Jerusalem bureau chief, 1984-89, Washington, DC, bureau, chief diplomatic correspondent, 1989-95, foreign affairs columnist, 1995—.

MEMBER: Phi Beta Kappa.

AWARDS, HONORS: Overseas Press Club award, 1980, for best business reporting from abroad; George Polk Award, 1982, and Pulitzer Prize and Livingston Award for Young Journalists, both 1983, all for coverage of war in Lebanon; Page One Award, New York Newspaper Guild, 1984; Colonel Robert D. Heinl, Jr., Memorial Award in Marine Corps History, Marine Corps Historical Foundation, 1985; Pulitzer Prize, 1988, for coverage of Israel; National Book Award, National Book Foundation, 1989, for From Beirut to Jerusalem; Pulitzer Prize, 2002, for commentary; New Israel Fund Award for Outstanding Reporting from Israel.


(Author of text) War Torn (photo collection), Pantheon, 1984.

From Beirut to Jerusalem, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1989.

(With Richard Rhodes) Writing in an Era of Conflict, Library of Congress (Washington, DC), 1990.

Israel, a Photobiography: The First Fifty Years, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.

The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization, Thorndike Press (Thorndike, ME), 1999.

Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World after September 11, Farrar, Strauss (New York, NY), 2002.

Contributor to New York Times Magazine.

SIDELIGHTS: Having survived five years of reporting from one of the most war-torn areas of the Middle East, Thomas L. Friedman decided he had had enough when he awoke one night in 1984 to find his Beirut neighborhood under mortar attack. Chicago Tribune reporter Kenneth R. Clark related Friedman's reaction: "I said to myself, 'This is really crazy. I'm the New York Times bureau chief in Beirut and my neighborhood is being shelled and it's not news. It's time to go home.'" From his assignment in Beirut, Friedman moved on to a posting in Jerusalem, where he remained until 1989. Two Pulitzer Prizes and innumerable war stories later, Friedman returned to the United States as chief diplomatic correspondent for the Washington, D.C., bureau of the New York Times.

From Beirut to Jerusalem represents the culmination of Friedman's experiences covering the Middle East, with glimpses of his youth and background. As a Jewish American, Friedman brings an enlightening perspective to discussions of Middle Eastern affairs. Barbara Newman said in the Los Angeles Times Book Review that Friedman "has written an intimate portrait of his ten years of reporting in the Middle East, chronicling his change from awe-struck lover of Israel to outspoken critic." Friedman's infatuation with Israel began at the age of fifteen, when he visited the country with his parents. In the introductory chapter of From Beirut to Jerusalem, Friedman relates an anecdote from his high school days: "I was insufferable. When the Syrians arrested thirteen Jews in Damascus, I wore a button that said, 'Free the Damascus 13,' which most of my classmates thought referred to an underground offshoot of the Chicago 7."

From Beirut to Jerusalem is divided into two sections consisting of discussions of Beirut and of Jerusalem, corresponding to Friedman's assignments first as Beirut bureau chief and later as Jerusalem bureau chief for the New York Times. "Mr. Friedman is different when writing of Beirut than he is when writing of Jerusalem," said Roger Rosenblatt in the New York Times Book Review. "When he arrives in Jerusalem for the second stage of his assignment, and for the second half of the book, he becomes the political and historical analyst. Reporting from Beirut, he is, for the most part, Pandemonium's correspondent, detailing scenes of pathos and hysteria."

Rosenblatt praised Friedman's treatment of his subject. "For a writer to appear evenhanded discussing the Jews and Arabs in this situation takes little more than giving each equal space in print and ascribing as many errors and atrocities to one as to the other. Mr. Friedman, who leaves no question as to the ardor of his Jewishness, is more interestingly evenhanded in that he rarely makes judgments on specific actions. When he delivers opinions, the judgments are so cosmic and melancholy that the question of fairness does not arise. First and last he is a reporter."

Conor Cruise O'Brien said in the New York Times, "I warmly recommend From Beirut to Jerusalem. But I do have some reservations. Mr. Friedman is splendid when he is interpreting events of which he has first-hand experience. His grasp on the previous history of the Arab-Israeli conflict is not so sure." O'Brien cited a section of the book that documents Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat's efforts to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel only after waging war in 1973. O'Brien contended that Sadat made an unreciprocated attempt for peace in 1971. "Most Israelis have forgotten that episode," O'Brien said. "It is odd that so staunch a critic of Israel as Mr. Friedman should share in that Israeli amnesia."

Friedman concluded in From Beirut to Jerusalem that the situation in the Middle East is not hopeless, but will require the intervention of the United States for its resolution. "Only a real friend tells you the truth about yourself," he wrote. "An American friend has to help jar these people out of their fantasies by constantly holding up before their eyes the mirror of reality."

Over the years, Friedman began to expand his focus and concentrate his attention on issues encompassing not only the Middle East, but the entire world. The hotly debated subject of globalization formed the thesis for his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization. In it, he writes that, because it is driven by technology, globalization is inevitable; and he discusses the changes, some of them painful, that technology brings as the world becomes smaller and more interconnected. "We all increasingly know how each other lives. And when we all increasingly know how each other lives, we all start to demand the same things. And when we don't get them, we get mad....Oh, in globalization you get mad!" He further sees globalization and access to technology as empowering the individual.

The Lexus and the Olive Tree, partly because of its timeliness and partly because of its controversial topic, received massive critical attention from the business, political, and technology communities, as well as the literary community. New York Times critic Richard Eder called The Lexus and the Olive Tree "a spirited and imaginative exploration of our new order of economic globalization." Christopher Farrell commented in Business Week that "the global economy is still evolving, and Friedman's work in progress is a timely read."



American Spectator, December, 1995, p. 38.

Book, July 1999, p. 83.

Booklist, March 1, 1999, Vernon Ford, review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization, p. 1100; January 1, 2000, review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, p. 816.

Business and Society, June, 2001, Denis Collins, review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, p. 226.

Business Economics, July, 2000, Robert D. Shriner, review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, p. 78.

Chicago Tribune, December 1, 1989.

Christian Century, November 3, 1999, John B. Cobb, Jr., "Globalization with a Human Face," p. 1054.

Christian Science Monitor, November 18, 1999, p. 14.

Commentary, October, 1999, Christopher Caldwell, review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, p. 68.

Computerworld, January 15, 2001, Kevin Fogarty, "Moving with the Herd," p. 42.

Detroit News, April 19, 1983.

Economist, June 19, 1999, "Globalization," p. 8

Europe, November, 1999, Robert J. Guttman, review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, p. 47.

Foreign Affairs, May, 1999, Barry Eichengreen, review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, p. 118.

Foreign Policy, fall, 1999, "Dueling Globalization," p. 110.

Globe and Mail, June 26, 1999, p. D12.

Harper's, October, 1999, Thomas Frank, review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, p. 72.

Harvard Business Review, July, 1999, p. 173.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 1999, p. 427.

Library Journal, April 15, 1999, Patrick J. Brunet, review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, p. 112; March 15, 2000, Susan C. Awe, "Web Vision Comes of Age," p. 44.

London Review of Books, September 2, 1999, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, July 16, 1989, p. 2; May 23, 1999, p. 3.

Multicultural Review, December, 1993, p. 18.

National Journal, May 22, 1999, Clive Crook, "The Golden Arches Theory of Metaphor Inflation," p. 1383.

New Leader, June 14, 1999, Peter B. Kenen, review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, p. 8.

New Republic, June 14, 1999, David S. Landes, "Show Me the Money," p. 39.

New Statesman, July 5, 1999, p. 53.

Newsweek, July 24, 1989, p. 57.

New Yorker, May 10, 1999, p. 86.

New York Review of Books, July 15, 1999, Benjamin M. Friedman, review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, p. 404.

New York Times, February 27, 1983; April 19, 1983; July 6, 1989; April 26, 1999, Richard Eder, "The Global Village Is Here. Resist at Your Peril," p. E8; December 5, 1999, p. 92.

New York Times Book Review, July 9, 1989, pp. 1, 26; April 25, 1999, Josef Joffe, review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, p. 14; June 6, 1999, p. 39.

Observer, (London, England) June 27, 1999, p. 13.

Progressive, July, 1999, Amitabh Pal, review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, p. 41.

Publishers Weekly, April 15, 1988; June 2, 1989, pp. 73-74; July 14, 1989; July 10, 1995, p. 55; March 1, 1999, review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, p. 48.

Tikkin, July-August, 1999, David C. Korten, review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, p. 71.

Time, July 10, 1989, p. 62.

Times (London, England), February 22, 1990.

Times Literary Supplement, June 29, 1990.

Wall Street Journal, May 3, 1999, p. A20.

Washington Post, April 18, 1999, Lester C. Thurow, "Players and Spectators," p. X05.

Washington Post Book World, July 16, 1989, pp. 1, 11.

Wilson Quarterly, summer, 1999, Robert Wright, review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, p. 127.

World Policy Journal, winter, 1999, Sanjib Baruah, "Globalization—Facing the Inevitable?," p. 105.*