Tom Friedman, You’re a Lightweight!

Looking at the New York Times columnist's new book compared with other intellectual heavyweights.

By: Garrett M. Graff

Three top Washington thinkers have new books, all much more readable than their physical weight and subject matter suggest. Daniel Yergin engagingly weaves together the economy and the war on terror in a way few historians have done. Thomas L. Friedman, with Michael Mandelbaum, argues that the US is failing to confront the challenges of globalization. Christopher Hitchens returns with about 100 of his best recent essays. Here’s a comparison of these intellectual heavyweights.

Daniel Yergin, The Quest Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum, That Used to Be Us Christopher Hitchens, Arguably Advantage
Book’s Subtitle Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back Essays Yergin
Number of Pulitzer Prizes One Three (all Friedman’s) None Friedman and Mandelbaum
Academic Credentials Yale and Cambridge University Friedman: Brandeis and Oxford; Mandelbaum: Yale, Harvard, and Cambridge Oxford Friedman and Mandelbaum
Number of Pages 816 400 816 Yergin and Hitchens (tie)
Weight 2.9 pounds 1.3 pounds 2.5 pounds Yergin
Number of Cover Blurbs Seven None Six Yergin
Sample Review “This masterful and illuminating book on one of the most vital issues of our time...should be essential reading for policymakers everywhere.” —Henry Kissinger “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.” —David Frum “If Hitchens didn’t exist, we wouldn’t be able to invent him.” —Ian McEwan “Hitchens is the greatest living essayist in the English language.” —Christopher Buckley Hitchens
Book's Epigraph None “It makes no sense for China to have better rail systems than us, and Singapore having better airports than us. And we just learned that China now has the fastest supercomputer on Earth—that used to be us.” —Barack Obama “Live all you can: It’s a mistake not to.” —Lambert Strether in Henry James’s The Ambassadors Friedman and Mandelbaum
Target Audience Davos attendees Meet the Press viewers Slate readers Yergin