That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back

Unabridged / Go to Abridged Audiobook

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Date: September 2011

Duration: 16 hours 54 minutes


America has a huge problem. It faces four major challenges, on which its future depends, and it is failing to meet them. 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, analyze those challenges—globalization, the revolution in information technology, the nation's chronic deficits, and its pattern of energy consumption—and spell out what we need to do now to rediscover America and rise to this moment.

They explain how the end of the cold war blinded the nation to the need to address these issues. They show how our history, when properly understood, provides the key to addressing them, and 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 needs. They offer a way out of the trap into which the country has fallen, which includes the rediscovery of some of our most valuable traditions and the creation of a new, third-party movement. That Used to Be Us is both a searching exploration of the American condition today and a rousing manifesto for American renewal.

As we were writing this book,” Friedman and Mandelbaum explain, we found that when we shared the title with people, they would often nod ruefully and ask: ‘But does it have a happy ending?' Our answer is that we can write a happy ending, but it is up to the country—to all of us—to determine whether it is fiction or nonfiction. We need to study harder, save more, spend less, invest wisely, and get back to the formula that made us successful as a country in every previous historical turn. What we need is not novel or foreign, but values, priorities, and practices embedded in our history and culture, applied time and again to propel us forward as a country. That is all part of our past. That used to be us and can be again—if we will it.”


  • Anonymous

    For people confused about the state of the United States today and how did we get to where we are so quickly, this is a great book to show the wrong turns america took. But it also illustrates the path to our salvation from doom. We have it within US to save America. We just need to do it.

  • Bill Kerans

    Possibly the most important book of the 21st century thus far. A rational prescription for America's future. Every member of Congress and the White House should be locked in a room and required to listen to it until it sinks in.

  • Trules

    I had a hard time returning this audio book; it was SO GOOD. but i see it's not for sale and ok, i want to listen to other books. But this should be REQUIRED listening/reading for every American who needs to hear our real state of the union, a country painfully in decline which must re-invent itself to thrive in the 21st century. As the authors say: education, immigration, infrastructure, energy research & development in the modern world of IT and the internet. Mr. Friedman told us years ago, "the world is flat", which meant everyone could now compete more universally, which resulted in many nations surpassing America in all of the above. We have to educate our children better, demand more of ourselves, sacrifice more, compromise politically (between our 2 dysfunctional parties), raise taxes, cut some entitlements, and raise the bar of our competitive skills again if we want to be the country that "used to be us".

  • PSH

    This book was fascinating and frustrating. It points out among other things, how detrimental the polarization of the Republican and Democratic parties over the past several years has been for our country. There is so much food for thought in this book not only about why we as a country are not what we used to be but what kind of political, environmental and educational chanes we need to make if we are to succeed again.