The Fourth Turning

An American Prophecy
Narrated by: William Strauss, Neil Howe
Length: 6 hrs and 1 min
Categories: History, Americas
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,502 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

National best seller  

“A startling vision of what the cycles of history predict for the future.” (USA Weekend)

William Strauss and Neil Howe will change the way you see the world - and your place in it. With blazing originality, The Fourth Turning illuminates the past, explains the present, and reimagines the future. Most remarkably, it offers an utterly persuasive prophecy about how America’s past will predict its future. Strauss and Howe base this vision on a provocative theory of American history. The authors look back 500 years and uncover a distinct pattern: Modern 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 that always arrive in the same order. In The Fourth Turning, the authors illustrate these cycles using a brilliant analysis of the post-World War II period. 

First comes a High, a period of confident expansion as a new order takes root after the old has been swept away. Next comes an Awakening, a time of spiritual exploration and rebellion against the now-established order. Then comes an Unraveling, an increasingly troubled era in which individualism triumphs over crumbling institutions. Last comes a Crisis - the Fourth Turning - when society passes through a great and perilous gate in history. Together, the four turnings comprise history's seasonal rhythm of growth, maturation, entropy, and rebirth. 

The Fourth Turning offers bold predictions about how all of us can prepare, individually and collectively, for America’s next rendezvous with destiny. 

©1997 William Strauss and Neil Howe

Critic Reviews

"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)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

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.

17 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Authors take a "short" view of history

We are a new country and I'm not sanguine with the authors using the last 400+ years of America's existence as the basis for their speculative theory. If they wish to show that their theory "holds water", then they need to visit European culture from the 1600's to the present. Even go back another 500 years in European history to show these 4 "turnings" at work. Their ideas are provocative and worth exploring but I have a sense that they've manipulated history to fit their theories.

13 people found this helpful

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  • 11-04-18

Inaccurate predictions on generations

This book isn’t new, and so it does give us the ability to determine the accuracy of the predictions over the last two decades. There is evidence to suggest there are cycles and seasons within human history, and that we are likely entering into winter or within one. My issue with this book is the completely wrong predictions about Baby Boomers and beyond. The authors predictions on the millennials generation is just laughable. As a tail end GenXer, I can also say that the majority of observations and predictions about our generation are wrong. The authors offered additional opinion based suggestions and commentary at the end, which they offered as empirical truths. This wasn’t a bad book, but their predictions doesn’t stand the test of time. For that reason, I’m not satisfied with it. I do wish they would make a new version of this book and revisit and improve upon their predictions and timeline.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

As the World Turns...

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.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The grand unified theory of sociology

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.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Abridged

I really dislike that this was abridged. I don't think that I had sufficient access to understanding some of the points being made because of it. Sweeping statements would be made without enough support or discussion as to why I should think that they are so

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding

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.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Explanation of generational interaction

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).

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

An Amazing Map of What is to Come

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.

3 people found this helpful

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Nothin like the book

This is an abridged version of the book. Wish they would have said this. Weak, comparative speaking.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Peter Lawless
  • 01-01-18

phenomenal prescience from a book written in 1997

the authors accurately predict much of what came to pass in the 00's.. and give us deep insights in how to proceed, today 20 years after it was written and 10 years after the GFC

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-18-20

Fascinating

A complex and huge subject made simple, amazingly accurate prediction of 2020 made in 1997!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Paul Murphy
  • 06-13-20

An interesting perspective.... But!

A little dark...but who said life was always going to be sweetness and light.

An industrious use of.... the concept of cycles in the life story of a society...

But! Metaphors wow.... it must be my autism I just couldn’t keep up...

My bad I’m sure...

Ok, you’ll get the concept.... but keeping track of all the metaphors well let's just say you really do need to be logistically minded.

Anyone interested in sociology... I’m sure will be gripped by the insight...

Some books I reread for finer detail...this one though...to try and understand all the metaphors.











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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-23-19

Stunningly Prescient

As with all books that predict the future, artistic license is needed. Food for thought.

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  • Lenny
  • 01-02-19

Just Awesome! No more words need said.<br />Good read.

Everyone should read this. Simply stunning look at cyclical history. I wish I had read this at 16 as a last cohort Thirteener it would have served me well. We are now in the crisis times and to see Trump that dangerous Boomer mentioned, just creepy the prediction level. This can't be all life is... Amazing!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-24-20

Scary but fascinating!

These guys have Nostradamus covered by a country mile...riveting and incredible listening. Everything rings true.

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  • James Dixon
  • 12-03-19

Old book - barely relevant

This book was written in 1997, barely relevant for 2019. That said it does discuss interesting information about generations and cycles. Their forecasts though are largely incorrect unless interpreted in the loosest way possible.

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  • sonja
  • 01-03-19

A Favourite

A bit droning on to listen to at times but conceptually intriguing. Definitely worth a read if you enjoy abstract ideas that shape the way you view the world.