Friedman has won three Pulitzer Prizes: the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting (from Lebanon), the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting (from Israel), and the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary. In 2004, he was also awarded the Overseas Press Club Award for lifetime achievement and the honorary title Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II. In 2009, he was given the National Press Club’s lifetime achievement award.
Friedman’s most recent book, published in September 2011, is That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back, co-authored with Johns Hopkins University foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum. The book is meant to be both a wake-up call and a pep talk for America. It analyzes the four great challenges America faces—globalization, the revolution in information technology, the nation’s chronic deficits, and our pattern of excessive energy consumption—and spells out what we need to do now to sustain the American dream and preserve American power in the world. Friedman and Mandelbaum argue that the end of the Cold War and the catastrophe of 9/11 blinded the nation to the need to address these challenges seriously. They are confident that America can come back—if it studies, not China, but its own history and the formula for success that made it the richest and most powerful country in the world over the last two centuries. “That used to be us,” they insist—and can be us again. That Used to Be Us was Friedman’s sixth New York Times bestseller.
In 2008, Friedman published Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—and How It Can Renew America. It became his fifth consecutive New York Times bestseller, and was cited by the White House as a book that President Barack Obama was reading on his 2009 summer vacation. It has been published in more than a dozen foreign languages. A 2.0 version of Hot, Flat, and Crowded was published in paperback in 2009, with three new chapters exploring the parallels between the climate crisis and the global economic crisis. “While on the surface this sounds like a book about energy and environment, it really isn’t. It is really a book about America,” Friedman explains. “It has become painfully obvious that for a variety of reasons our country has lost its groove in recent years—Washington doesn’t work, our public schools and infrastructure badly need rebuilding. This book was my own contribution for how we can get our groove back as a country. It is by taking on the earth’s biggest challenges—many of which flow from a planet getting hot, flat, and crowded—and leading the world with the solutions and technologies that will meet those challenges head-on. As we enter the second decade of the twenty-first century, I find this set of issues—how we take the lead in the clean-tech revolution and use that to refresh, renew, and revive America—is what animates me most. If there is one overarching theme that drives my column today, it is the need for nation-building in America.”
Friedman and his wife, Ann, reside in Bethesda, Maryland. Ann, who teaches first-grade reading in the public school system in Montgomery County, Maryland, is also chairman of the board of directors of the SEED Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., that developed a college-prep public boarding school model for underserved urban students. Ann is also on the boards of Conservation International, the Aspen Institute, the National Symphony Orchestra, and WETA, the public broadcasting station. Their elder daughter, Orly, a graduate of Teach for America, is also a public school teacher. Their younger daughter, Natalie, is finishing college.