Chapter 1

The World Right Side Up

One thought always strikes me in my travels. I'll be sitting in a comfortable bistro in Medellín with its doors open to the warm night air wafting in gently from a quiet street, in a restaurant on a man-made island gazing up at the tallest tower in the world twinkling on a starless night in Dubai, at a bar in Cape Town, in a noodle shop in Beijing, or countless other places around this ever-fascinating planet of ours. And the thought will hit me.

If I close my eyes, I could easily imagine myself in New York, Washington, D.C., or any number of American cities. Of course, each of these places is different from each other in many ways, and yet they are much the same.

People are people around the world. They like many of the same things. They want to have a better life. They want to have a safe home, wear clothes they like, and have friends. They want to have leisure time and eat well. They all want something.

They share all the same traits that make us human. People everywhere are humble and vain, generous and greedy, wise and foolish, and many other qualities besides. They've made mistakes. They have hopes and dreams.

Yet great disparities and differences exist, too. Since the Industrial Revolution, the Western world—mainly the United States and Western Europe—has vaulted well ahead of everyone else. Traditionally wealthy economies, such as China and India and parts of the Middle East, were left far behind. The Western world dominated—in manufacturing ...

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