Coming of Age in a Globalized World by Michael Adams and Angelo Carfagna, Kumarian Press, 256 pp.

Publishers seem to have lost their appetite for broad-brush books on globalization.  After the splash made by Thomas Friedman with his bestseller The World is Flat in 1999, more measured accounts from writers like Joseph Stiglitz, John Gray, John Ralston Saul, and most notably Naomi Klein’s No Logo, relatively few books have appeared on the bookshelves.   Still, globalization motors along, affecting everyone’s lives—and thoughtful analysis of where it is going (or perhaps where it should go) should demand everyone’s attention.

Kumarian Press is a medium-sized publisher that has shown willingness to release ground-breaking books, most notably David Korten’s provocative When Corporations Rule the World, which became an instant classic.  While Korten’s attitude towards globalization was largely negative, Michael Adams and Angelo Carfagna’s Coming of Age in a Globalized World takes a positive stance, although the authors are by no means totally satisfied with its current direction.

The book is aimed at a younger readership “eager to embrace global citizenship as the pathway to peace, justice, and equity,” and provides a useful primer to the next generation of globalists keen to secure their passport to the brave new interconnected world.  But how well are the authors preparing them for the challenges ahead?

Covering a large territory, the book deals with critical areas, such as the impact of globalization on sovereignty, whether its benefits have been fairly distributed, and how it is affecting commercial and cultural landscapes. The authors have read widely, and the book is well researched and footnoted.  While not shying away from expressing their own opinions, the author pay their readers the courtesy of providing differing points of view, allowing them to reach their own judgments on whether or not they wish to embrace world citizenship.

One limitation of the book is that it is written chiefly for Americans.  For example, the book devotes a whole chapter to 9/11, showing that international cooperation is the best way to tackle global terrorism.  On the other hand, the authors are silent on corruption, which is of greater concern to developing countries and which poses a threat no less important than terrorism.  International trade and how its rules shortchange developing countries are also not adequately covered.  Another chapter is dedicated to the problems of how world citizenship affects loyalty to one’s own country.  Here the authors stand on firmer ground and provide a useful discussion of how the two can be reconciled.

Elsewhere in the book, the authors welcome the increasing number of international summits and forums that have convened to tackle difficult problems, like climate change, population and racism.  The authors conclude that these summits herald “a new era in international cooperation” without remarking whether resolutions and the like emanating from these summits really improve the world.

Nevertheless, as a primer, this book provides the next generation of globalists with a strong “sense of global citizenship,” empowering them to “deliver the promise of the future.”

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