The world in a toothbrush

Spiegel takes apart some dental equipment, and shines a light on the new world order.

By Andrew Leonard
Published February 3, 2006 1:06AM (EST)

Before I plug a recent superb look at globalization in Spiegel Magazine through the narrative vehicle of an electric toothbrush, I have to make a disclaimer. I'm not pushing the story just because one of the "related links" at the end is my own "The World in the iPod."

The two stories try to do similar things: I explored globalization by taking an iPod apart, and Der Spiegel does the same thing with a Philips Sonicare Elite 7000 toothbrush. The difference is that Spiegel does it a lot better. Outside of a couple of trips to Silicon Valley, I never left my desk. Spiegel's reporter travels all over the world, interviewing people who are part of the production process in the Philippines, China, the United States, Austria -- poignant, compelling and really well written.

Spiegel's been doing some amazing work on globalization in general. I have a hard copy of a special issue the magazine published on the topic last year, and while there is more than a touch of schadenfreude displayed at the spectacle of the U.S. being challenged by the rest of the world, there's also a ton of great stories, not least a riveting interview with former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Note to readers: I'm taking the day off on Friday. How the World Works will be back in action on Monday.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Globalization How The World Works