William Strauss and Neil Howe base this vision on a provocative new theory of American history. With intellectual audacity, the authors look back 500 years and uncover a distinct pattern: History moves in cycles, each one lasting about the length of a long human life, each composed of four eras - or "turnings" - that last about 20 years and always arrive in the same order. First comes a High, a period of confident growth as a new order takes root. Next comes an Awakening, a time of spiritual exploration and rebellion against the now-established order. Then comes an Unraveling, an increasingly troubled era as individualism triumphs over crumbling institutions. Last comes a Crisis - the Fourth Turning - when society passes through a great and perilous gate in history.
Strauss and Howe locate today's America as midway through an Unraveling, roughly a decade away from the next era of Crisis. They show how generational dynamics are the key to understanding the cycles of American history and draw vivid portraits of all the modern generations: the can-do G.I.s, the mediating Silent, the self-absorbed Boomers, the pragmatic 13ers, and the child Millennials. Placed in the context of history's long rhythms, the persona and role of each generation becomes clear - as does the inevitability of the coming Crisis.
By applying the lessons of history, The Fourth Turning makes some bold and hopeful predictions about America's next rendezvous with destiny, and shows us how we can prepare for what's ahead.
©1997 William Strauss and Neil Howe; (P) Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, a Division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
"One of the best efforts to give us an integrated vision of where we are going." (Wall Street Journal)
"A startling vision of what the cycles of history predict for the future." (USA Weekend)
Max Fisher of Rushmore Academy
People who really get what this book is saying find it changes their entire world views. I am one of them and cannot recommend it highly enough. Having said that, I also cannot do enough to recommend that you get paper and audio versions and consume them in parallel. Some of these concepts really need to be seen in tabular format to be understood. At the same time, I found that listening to this abridged version greatly enhanced by comprehension of the full print version, and helped me to be more patient with it when it grew occasionally circular.
This book gave me a new perspective on our history and our possible future. This book was written in 1997 and I read it in 2010. It's not a book predicting the future, but it does make some forecasts that are pretty spot-on. I find this book quite valuable and would recommend this book to my children when they grow up. The knowledge in it is valuable in that it gives you foresight of cycles to come in our culture. I agree with the authors' premise that time is cyclical and not linear.
This book presents a fresh and fascinating viewpoint of how the order and relationship of generations to one another bring about great and unexpected changes in our society. The thesis builds upon a previous study done by the authors in an earlier book entitled "Generations" and works to apply the theories advanced in that book to the conditions as we have them today. Far more than a book of shallow prognosication, it equips each of us with a new lens that can be used to see relationships and trends heretofore invisible. I recommend it for anyone with an interest in history who wishes to challenge their staid views of the past.
Future generations will judge this book and the theories it presents as a foundation to understanding how the generations interact. Anyone who takes the time to understand this book will be uniquely prepared for the events that are about to unfold in the not too distant future (2009).
The most amazing book I have read. It explains so much about American Generations and how each one effects the other and the times we lived in and the times we will live in.
It predicted the Stock market crash of 2008 and the turmoil we are going through as a nation.
All our national politicians should read this.
Nomad 4 life!
This is a great book. Though it was written in 1996 because of the accuracy of their predictions you would have thought it was written today (2010) in retrospect of the happenings of this past decade. It'll change the way you think about and see the things happening in America today.
If it comes; let it. If it goes; let it.
Fascinating theory, especially interesting as it was written in the mid 90's and much of what the authors predicted based on their model has come to pass. We are in a very strange time right now in the U.S. People believe that nothing will ever change forgetting that even Rome fell eventually. The world economy nearly imploded less than a decade ago. Anything can happen in the oligarchy that has become America. As Monty Python tells us, "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!" This book has informed how I will live my life going forward and has given me some peace around the non-linear course of history.
I listened to this book four times to date. This book lays out history in a completely new and insightful way and provides razor sharp insight into what is going on in society now and what is to come. It is at once hopeful and terrifying.
We seem to have lost all conventional wisdom regarding the natural cycle of all things to include life, economies, cultures, governments, etc... This book really puts generation gaps in a natural perspective. This book gave me a clearer understanding of why my parents' generation often seems more foreign and irrelevant to me than that of of my grandparents. Amazing book.
Make it a work of theoretical fiction.
If they labeled it as fiction.
The book is entirely filled with broad generalizations supported with cherry picked individual examples. It reminds me of the horoscopes in the newspapers. I could not relate anyone I know at the appropriate age to any of the author's profiling of the generational archetype to which they were born. Not to mention people are not born only once every 20 years. It is like they bought into this theory and then sought ways to reinforce their ideas. They should have done the reverse before believing the theory. It is easy to find many counter-examples to their conclusions. This is not science, everything was stated as if it was fact but only supported by anecdotes. Not one sociological study was mentioned.
The bottom line is that you could easily rearrange the order of the generational archetypes and find an abundant supply of historical figures and events to support the new cyclical theory.
I made up the following paragraph as evidence that anyone can write a book like this: "Sometime in the next 20 to 50 years there will be great prosperity for many, while others will feel left out. There will also be times of great hardships, both on the individual and society in general. Though, there will be some that find their way to prosperity even during those bleak times. Conflicts will emerge both within the United States and abroad leading to government intervention. A strong sense of civic duty will be helpful during those periods of conflict."
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