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Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069

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Hailed by national leaders as politically diverse as former Vice President Al Gore and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Generations has been heralded by reviewers as a brilliant, if somewhat unsettling, reassessment of where America is heading. William Strauss and Neil Howe posit the history of America as a succession of generational biographies, beginning in 1584 and en Hailed by national leaders as politically diverse as former Vice President Al Gore and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Generations has been heralded by reviewers as a brilliant, if somewhat unsettling, reassessment of where America is heading. William Strauss and Neil Howe posit the history of America as a succession of generational biographies, beginning in 1584 and encompassing everyone through the children of today. Their bold theory is that each generation belongs to one of four types, and that these types repeat sequentially in a fixed pattern. The vision of Generations allows us to plot a recurring cycle in American history—a cycle of spiritual awakenings and secular crises—from the founding colonists through the present day and well into this millenium. Generations is at once a refreshing historical narrative and a thrilling intuitive leap that reorders not only our history books but also our expectations for the twenty-first century.


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Hailed by national leaders as politically diverse as former Vice President Al Gore and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Generations has been heralded by reviewers as a brilliant, if somewhat unsettling, reassessment of where America is heading. William Strauss and Neil Howe posit the history of America as a succession of generational biographies, beginning in 1584 and en Hailed by national leaders as politically diverse as former Vice President Al Gore and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Generations has been heralded by reviewers as a brilliant, if somewhat unsettling, reassessment of where America is heading. William Strauss and Neil Howe posit the history of America as a succession of generational biographies, beginning in 1584 and encompassing everyone through the children of today. Their bold theory is that each generation belongs to one of four types, and that these types repeat sequentially in a fixed pattern. The vision of Generations allows us to plot a recurring cycle in American history—a cycle of spiritual awakenings and secular crises—from the founding colonists through the present day and well into this millenium. Generations is at once a refreshing historical narrative and a thrilling intuitive leap that reorders not only our history books but also our expectations for the twenty-first century.

30 review for Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Kuznicki

    I liked this book and found its basic idea intriguing. However, as the book progressed, in particular as it addressed elements of history I am knowledgeable about, I saw that the authors' scholarship was sometimes shoddy; they misused elements of history they knew superficially or not at all in ways that made me doubt them generally. Essentially, I encountered this often enough to begin suspecting they were simply assuming their overall theory was correct and had not done the rigorous work of tr I liked this book and found its basic idea intriguing. However, as the book progressed, in particular as it addressed elements of history I am knowledgeable about, I saw that the authors' scholarship was sometimes shoddy; they misused elements of history they knew superficially or not at all in ways that made me doubt them generally. Essentially, I encountered this often enough to begin suspecting they were simply assuming their overall theory was correct and had not done the rigorous work of truly penetrating those moments in our history to see if their hypothesis stood up to such analysis. Nonetheless, I also had the sense that they were on to something. I'm not sure exactly what that something is, and I'm also quite doubtful that their own sense of what they've "discovered" is almost surely mostly wrong, but even so, they've opened up a manner of understanding American History that might be profitably explored, and at this point, this book is worth considering because of the window it may open on that manner of seeing this history. I don't think a reader needs to read the whole book; not surprisingly, it's when they begin speculating about the future that they are treading on the most dangerous ground, which they can hardly be blamed for-- even if their scholarship was more rigorous and reliable, making predictions about a near future that their readers would be living within the moment would be nearly impossible. Additionally, one can get the jist of their thinking by reading perhaps 150-200 pp. Still, though I give the book only three stars, I still rather heartily recommend that readers give it that 150-200 pp chance.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin

    In the tradition of Arthur Schlesinger Jr. idea of cycles of American history Strauss has a cycle of US history grounded in generational cycles. According to Strauss and By my calendar there are four Generations on the stage at present older Silent Generation (adaptive) that was conformist company men who followed orders and kept their heads down, Boomers (idealists) spiritual souls, inner directed dreamers (yet so full of themselves), 13th generation or Gen Xers as we are called these days prag In the tradition of Arthur Schlesinger Jr. idea of cycles of American history Strauss has a cycle of US history grounded in generational cycles. According to Strauss and By my calendar there are four Generations on the stage at present older Silent Generation (adaptive) that was conformist company men who followed orders and kept their heads down, Boomers (idealists) spiritual souls, inner directed dreamers (yet so full of themselves), 13th generation or Gen Xers as we are called these days pragmatic, anomic risk takers, who don't seem to give a damn about anything (reactives) yet somewhat pragmatic, and the rising Millenials (which are probably going to be a Civic Generation like their WWII grandparents). According to this wooly yet intriguing idea America cycles through four types of Generations Civic, Adaptive, Idealist, Reactive. The Civics are WWII Generation (JFK and Reagan) and supposedly the millenials(TBA), the Adaptive are The Silent Generation (MLK and Gloria Steinem), Boomer Generation is Idealist (Bill Gates and Steve Jobs), and Gen X is Reactive (Jodie Foster and Sergei Brin). These generation These generations cycle through american history like a sine wave of over and under cared for children grow up to risk averse or risk seeking , inner directed or outer directed loop the loops of generational swings. Gen Xers are like lost generations of Hemingway's time adventurers and lost souls, Boomers are Idealists like the revolutionary and great awakening generations of Jefferson, Silent Generation Are like Progressive Generation of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Whether this four part pinwheel is a genuine pattern of history or a shoehorned narrative around a neat and tidy idea is hard to tell. It seems to make intuitive sense but it could also be another "just so" story. Fun to read nonetheless.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    There are several aspects of this book to review. Writing style: a bit dry. This is forgivable: the authors are laying out a hypothesis that covers almost 500 years of American history, and they want to make sure you've got all their evidence. I figure the book could've been tightened up, but I guess it's better they erred on the side of too much explanation rather than not enough. The generational theory: plausible and fascinating. The authors summarize the history of 14 generations of Americans There are several aspects of this book to review. Writing style: a bit dry. This is forgivable: the authors are laying out a hypothesis that covers almost 500 years of American history, and they want to make sure you've got all their evidence. I figure the book could've been tightened up, but I guess it's better they erred on the side of too much explanation rather than not enough. The generational theory: plausible and fascinating. The authors summarize the history of 14 generations of Americans, showing how each generation fits into a cycle of four types and how these types interact. At the same time, they detail how American history alternates between spiritual awakenings and crises that usually hit at predictable intervals. It takes a while to get through this part of the book, but it's interesting to see the patterns develop. The predictions: some hits, some misses. By now, 17 years after first publication, there's been time to see if the authors' theories would hold up. They've been doing better at cultural trends rather than events. I don't place the "alienating event" they thought would hit in the 1990s, but they did a fine job of describing the culture of helicopter parents years before that became a catchphrase. Still, it's hard to watch the economy crash, hear about environmental problems settling in, catch the news on the latest terrorist attack, and not think of their predicted Crisis of 2020, more or less on schedule. The book will take time to get through (and you could skim parts of it), but there are worse ways to spend your free time.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Simone Collins

    There are only so many books in the world capable of revolutionizing the way one views people and trends. Generations is one of these rare treasures. This 538-page tome co-authored by William Strauss and Neil Howe, lays the foundation of a fascinating theory about generational, social, and political patterns and trends in the United States. Howe and Strauss argue that since its inception, the United States has seen four repeating generational cohorts which are labeled as Idealists, Reactives, Civ There are only so many books in the world capable of revolutionizing the way one views people and trends. Generations is one of these rare treasures. This 538-page tome co-authored by William Strauss and Neil Howe, lays the foundation of a fascinating theory about generational, social, and political patterns and trends in the United States. Howe and Strauss argue that since its inception, the United States has seen four repeating generational cohorts which are labeled as Idealists, Reactives, Civics, and Adaptives. These generations have exhibited predictable cycles (with one exception during the Civil War) and have made unique impacts on the country's politics, society, culture, laws, and diplomatic relations. So far as I am concerned, Generations is mandatory reading for anyone interested in trend research. I have often been of the opinion that we can learn a great deal about future developments by looking at patterns in history. With Generations, Strauss and Howe have done the pattern recognition for us, and present a beautiful framework which can be utilized to make significant and useful predictions about future trends in advertising, product design, investing, politics, and a litany of other fields.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Howe & Strauss present a very interesting and useful theory about how generations are different and what makes them so. It is called the generational archetype of four different generational types which follow one another in a repeating order: Idealist, Reactive, Civic, and Adaptive. There are two divisions in the generations: Dominant (idealist & civic) Recessive (reactive and adaptive). The dominant generations follow from a spiritual awakening (idealists) or from a secular crisis (civics). The Howe & Strauss present a very interesting and useful theory about how generations are different and what makes them so. It is called the generational archetype of four different generational types which follow one another in a repeating order: Idealist, Reactive, Civic, and Adaptive. There are two divisions in the generations: Dominant (idealist & civic) Recessive (reactive and adaptive). The dominant generations follow from a spiritual awakening (idealists) or from a secular crisis (civics). The recessive generations follow from an inner driven era (reactives) or an outer driven era (adaptives) which relate to how the awakening or crises resolve themselves. Awakenings result in inner driven eras pushing back against social change, and outer driven eras follow from crises to protect social changes. In response to the conditions of the previous dominant generation come a reaction to crisis or awakening. The reaction following a crisis period by the recessive adaptive generation is of maintenance of the social order, an outer driven era. The response to a spiritual awakening is cynicism and social fragmentation and polarization, which for the resulting Reactive generation means an inner driven era to separate from the social order. Dominant Civic- secular crisis Idealist- spiritual awakening Recessive Adaptive- outer driven era Reactive- inner driven era This book is written to apply to the United States, beginning in 1584. The authors claim this is because generations matter more in the US than they have in the old world, given that the US was the first modern small-l liberal and small-r republican government, rather than being ruled by kings and nobles in which a child, Louis XIV of France, could ascend the throne and not reflect the current adult generation. As more countries become democratic and capitalist, the archetype should become apparent in the culture. Something to consider is that being a dominant generation as opposed to recessive doesn't make the generation inherently better, and not necessarily a cause of their own conditions. They are dominant because of a crisis or awakening and what they do strongly influences the future social order. Leaders of the social revolutions of the sixties were mostly older than boomers, often of the silent generation, and the boomers normalized their goals into public life with both good and bad results. The progressive generation saw women gain the right to vote, but also the failure of the treaty of Versailles. They were followed by the reactive Lost Generation of the interwar era, before the civic Greatest Generation dealt with the crises from this era. It seems to be the case that dominant generations give birth or at least influence the next dominant generation, and recessive generations give birth and/or influence the next recessive generation. An idealist generation comes from a civic generation, and the next civic generation comes from an idealist generation. Idealist-Civic-Idealist-Civic... Adaptive-Reactive-Adaptive-Reactive... The generation which influences you the most, your parents, seems to skip a cycle to maintain the dominant/recessive chain. These four types complete a cycle of roughly 90 years the authors call a saeculum, almost a century. Over the twentieth century the cycle went: Civic: the greatest generation (1910-1924) Adaptive: the silent generation (1925-1942) Idealist: the baby boom generation (1943-1960) Reactive: generation x (1961-1981) The start and end points are somewhat vague for generations as they are defined as a cohort over a period of time shaped by major social events relating to secular crises and spiritual awakenings and their aftermath. The greatest generation, the authors call them the GI generation, was defined by coming of age in the Great Depression and service in World War II, which were secular crises, so their cohort would be those old enough to have lived in the depression but young enough to be young adults during the war. The silent generation was mostly too young to serve in World War II and were young adults by the Korean War of the early 1950s and the Eisenhower administration. This cohort came of age in the aftermath secular crises of war and economic depression and and abided by the postwar consensus. Their recessive attitude was oriented outward to defend the consensus. The baby boomer generation came of age in the 1960s and agitated against the social consensus put into place by the GI's. Their spiritual awakening took place as young adults during the Vietnam war and the civil rights era. Generation x, the authors call them 13ers, grew up after the idealism of the 60s turned into the excess and disillusionment of the 1970s. Rising crime and stagflation instilled a cynical attitudes towards institutions and the idealism of the previous generation. This generation withdrew to inner life as the 80s and 90s saw a return to economic growth and social stability. And the cycle begins again with the millennial generation (1982-1998) which is predicted by Howe and Strauss in 1991 to be a civic generation. Though it's not agreed what exact years make the millennial generation, I define the cohort as becoming an adult sometime before the end of the Obama presidency, 2016, but not before the year 2000, the millennium. The early millennials are born from the baby boomer idealist generation. Millennials grow up during the economic prosperity of the 80's and 90's, the end of the Cold War, and into the culture wars fought by the boomers. Millennials come of age after 9/11 and with economic challenges following the end of the 90s tech boom and the worldwide 2008 Great Recession. This is similar to the upbringing of the GI Generation in the 1920s prosperity and culture wars which was followed by the Great Depression and World War II. Millennials are for Howe and Strauss the turning of the saeculum who will like the GI's define their century, the twenty first. As for the next generation after the millennials, whatever they will be called, Howe & Strauss' theory predicts an adaptive generation to come next: born in the 21st century and fully immersed in the Internet, social media, and the post-9/11 order. Whatever order millennials come up with, the next generation will probably work within and maintain it. I think the generational archetype is a useful way for understanding history and even making predictions. It seems Jungian to me, not just in the use of archetypes but how dominant and recessive relate to Jung's anima and animus: the extrovert-introvert, masculine-feminine, and active-passive side of all our our natures. People will deride the generational archetype as unfalsifiable just as they would Jung's psychology, but its popularity and influence is as wide as Jung is in his field.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    This is one of the most fascinating theories I have ever read and considered. Can the cycles of history be predicted (in broad brush strokes, of course) by the general character traits displayed by the elderly, the middle aged, the young adults and the children of each generational cycle. The authors suggest that, yes, somewhat accurate predictions can be made. The rest is a very intriguing look at American history and the people who have played a role in this history at various points in their l This is one of the most fascinating theories I have ever read and considered. Can the cycles of history be predicted (in broad brush strokes, of course) by the general character traits displayed by the elderly, the middle aged, the young adults and the children of each generational cycle. The authors suggest that, yes, somewhat accurate predictions can be made. The rest is a very intriguing look at American history and the people who have played a role in this history at various points in their lives...the crusading Wobblies and Vietnam War protestors, the GIs during WWII, the Jazz Babies and Doughboys that came before them...and even the disaffected "Clerks" of today all employ different methods for dealing with the events of their life spans and develop various generational emotional responses and styles. Critics will always point to the people they know (or themselves) as atypical of the stereotypes of their cohort group. Certainly all people are individuals and it is unsettling to think one can be locked into a set of circumstances merely by the accident of when you were born. However, there are some arguments put forth in Generations that compel the reader to at least consider the circle of cause and effect outlined within the pages. As a hypothetical illustration, I'll go with the image of the "clerk" figure...Imagine 4 young men or women working a low status and low pay clerk job in a shop. The youth of the Depression/WWII years would merely look at it as a job...lucky to have anything during hard times. The money would probably go toward helping their family with essentials like food and heat. They would make the most of it, be unconcerned with status or career path and probably still find ways to save a portion of their paltry income. The youth of the immediate post-war years would take the job out of a sense of responsibility. They would take solace in the fact that they would probably not be clerking in 5 years as other and better opportunities arose. They might use some of their income toward college tuition and be the first in their families to take this leap. They would even look back fondly on their first jobs as a last period of relative freedom before assuming the mantle of adult worries. The boomer youth may not really "have to" work. However, their GI (and older) parents want them to learn the value of earning their own money. The boomers might spend a larger chunk of their income on themselves for entertainment. The boomers would not see this period of low status work as permanent. They might use periods like this to consider what they really want to do with their lives and plan ahead. They might also drop back in to lower status work from time to time if they get disillusioned with school or some other occupational training. The Gen X youth may have grown up with the sense that they would not "have to" work at this kind of job at all. However, their rising adulthood presents a period of shifting back down the economic scale. They may initially take the low pay/low status job as a temporary fix and be surprised and disappointed to find themselves staying in the job longer than expected, with fewer outside opportunities than expected. They may not be conditioned to save as much money as they should and go into debt as they fail to come to terms with the fact that they will have less leisure time and discretionary income than the generations immediately before them. However, they will also have the wherewithall to piece together part time jobs if needed. It is amusing to think about this book after the fact and plug in your own life experiences and observations. It is also unnerving, as these dismal times we are living now were predicted in the early 90s within the pages of Generations.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stacey

    I read the 1991 edition of this book meaning it came out when I was one of those little Millennials, not really in the scenes of society. We were just children raised in a protected and loving homes. I have to say some of the predictions were a bit kooky but there were a few were spot on. I do see my generation more team-oriented, community-based folks while many of us do get along with our Boomer aged parents. It's fun to read about our American history in a different lens through generations a I read the 1991 edition of this book meaning it came out when I was one of those little Millennials, not really in the scenes of society. We were just children raised in a protected and loving homes. I have to say some of the predictions were a bit kooky but there were a few were spot on. I do see my generation more team-oriented, community-based folks while many of us do get along with our Boomer aged parents. It's fun to read about our American history in a different lens through generations and their cycles. I learned things that I didn't learn in history and Social studies classes in my youth. For example, the southern (Adaptive) Compromisers (b. 1767-91) wanted to abolished slavery and they had antislavery societies to plan a way to wean the South of slaves but they lost power when their next juniors, Transcendental Idealists came into power. For years I have been taught that the Southerns before and during the Civil War years loved having slaves to stay with their bourgeois lifestyles. Then there were things I didn't understand since I didn't have background knowledge. This book took me days to read through but I will have to reread to understand it more. Through the first read, I enjoy seeing the patterns of each generational cycles. As a Millenial, I have been influenced by my elders (GI, Silent, Boomers and Gen-Xers). I feel I got the social justice bug, first by the Silent generation elders (one of them was my former 4th grade teacher) and was encouraged by the Boomer and Gen-Xer teachers and older adults. Did you know that there hasn't any US presidents from the Silent Generation (b. 1925-43) meaning it's the first time we skipped a generation as a president since we first became a nation over 300 years ago? I think a couple of them were VPs with a GI or Boomer aged US presidents. Personally I would love to vote in a US president from the Silent Generation (youngest is age 70 this year) since their strengths are pluralism, expertise, social justice and tolerance. Of course this president should have a mix of Silent, Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millenianls (the oldest of us at age 31 this year) as part of the president cabinet and White House staff to get a good balance approach in creating an amazing system of the 21st century and hopefully beyond. Hmm, after reading this book it makes me want to befriend the surviving GIs and elderly Silents so I can learn as much as I can before they disappear from our living history and into just history. How many Millenials out there enjoy reflecting about generations and ours specifically? Sometimes I feel like I can relate with my elders better than my own generation. Plus I do get along with the younger generation, the new Adaptives (no cool nickname yet) since right now I am in the educational field. Wow, it'll be weird to see the first wave Millennials as middle age in the next decade. But already I have some peers who became parents at an early age so they are raising the new Adaptive kids. (Though I knew a couple same-age peers who became first time parents at age 18 so they are raising the youngest of us Millenials.) I'm probably be one of those Millenial who would get married and have children at an older age (following the Gen-Xers) so my kids will be the new Idealists. They will remind me of my own parents and my friends' parents. Crazy, huh?

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    The book explicitly states a desire to risk "predicting" future trends, so that readers of the future could easily judge his theories for their pragmatic worth. Fifteen years after publication, confirmation of this book's concepts can be found in both the macro environment of world events and the microcosm of the thoughtful reader's own web of social interactions: with parents, coworkers, peers and children. The book's thesis is that American history follows a near-century long cycle of four ge The book explicitly states a desire to risk "predicting" future trends, so that readers of the future could easily judge his theories for their pragmatic worth. Fifteen years after publication, confirmation of this book's concepts can be found in both the macro environment of world events and the microcosm of the thoughtful reader's own web of social interactions: with parents, coworkers, peers and children. The book's thesis is that American history follows a near-century long cycle of four generational archetypes: secular builders, spiritual seekers, pragmatic rebels and refined curators. The living examples of these types are the G.I. generation who fought in WWII, the Boomers, Generation "X", and the "silent generation"-- born too late to fight with the GIs and too early to uh... frolic... with the Boomers. The book takes us on an tour of American history, highlighting the interplay between the historical forces shaping each generation in their youth, and how each generation makes their stamp on history as adults. It's a compelling argument, in that he illustrates how that generation's impact sets the stage for the generations following, perpetuating the cycle. The story is well-told and insightful; I am no scholar of history, but there is an intensely believable intellectual honesty. A significant deviation in the pattern appears at the time of the Civil War, but rather than shoehorn the facts to fit their pattern, the authors concede the disruption, analyze the situation, and present an explanation that rings true; indeed, that echoes into the present day. Here are just two simple predictions from the book (written in 1990-91, published in '92): American presidential leadership "skipping over" the Silent generation, from the "greatest generation" GIs to the Boomer generation (Bush I to Clinton). A "secular crisis" in the first decade of the millennium -- and the potentially disastrous results if that happened too early in the decade, when crusading Boomers were in charge, but pragmatic (yes, I said pragmatic) Xers were not yet influential enough to effect the implementation of policy. Written before the Internet, before the Clinton presidency, before "Generation X" was even named (Douglas Coupland's book came out contemporaneously, so the authors call Xers "13ers", acknowledging that their culturally accepted name will likely be different) "Generations: A History of America's Future, 1584-2069" should be read by anyone looking for an insightful, well researched sociological study with a futurist slant. Deep without resorting to cryptic conspiracy theory, Strauss & Howe's work is a page-turning read which could improve both our political decisions and our family relations.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chrisl

    Would like to re-read - wish it was still available in regional library. *** NYTimes has a recent article putting book in perspective: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/28/us... "In the preface to “Generations” nearly 30 years ago, they nodded to the despair that boomers sometimes felt about the character of their peers. “You may feel some disappointment,” they said, “in the Dan Quayles and Donald Trumps who have been among the first of your agemates to climb life’s pyramid.” Mr. Howe will admit to som Would like to re-read - wish it was still available in regional library. *** NYTimes has a recent article putting book in perspective: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/28/us... "In the preface to “Generations” nearly 30 years ago, they nodded to the despair that boomers sometimes felt about the character of their peers. “You may feel some disappointment,” they said, “in the Dan Quayles and Donald Trumps who have been among the first of your agemates to climb life’s pyramid.” Mr. Howe will admit to some disappointment himself on where Mr. Trump is on life’s pyramid: “I think thus far,” he said, “it’s fair to say that Trump has not grown into the role.” *** (In context of the book's theory, I appreciate being a member of the 'Silent Generation.' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_... *** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss... quote from wiki - "According to the theory, historical events are associated with recurring generational personas (Archetypes). These generational personas unleash a new era (called a turning) in which a new social, political, and economic climate exists. These successive eras (turnings) tend to last around 20–22 years." ***

  10. 4 out of 5

    Aimeslee

    Ok, about this book, I'm cultish. Inside its pages are all the truths one needs to understand history, time and how it changes. Seriously. I am an ardent believer in this generational history theory. I see it every single day. Take the current presidential race. Obama's camp figured out at the beginning how to fuel change: grab the Millenials' loyalty by branding Obama as cool and *one of them*. (Millenials generation is 1982-2000 approximately). GenX (1961-1981) soon followed suit, as they do te Ok, about this book, I'm cultish. Inside its pages are all the truths one needs to understand history, time and how it changes. Seriously. I am an ardent believer in this generational history theory. I see it every single day. Take the current presidential race. Obama's camp figured out at the beginning how to fuel change: grab the Millenials' loyalty by branding Obama as cool and *one of them*. (Millenials generation is 1982-2000 approximately). GenX (1961-1981) soon followed suit, as they do tend to do, especially if Oprah says to do it. Con job? Oh, yes, but hey, nothing's off limits in politics. Together, these two generations, without knowing much at all about what Obama really stands for, are fixing to decide the Presidency, unless the old farts (Boomers 1943-1960, and Silents 1925-1942) can stop them. Personally, either way the election goes, I think we are about to elect the next Hoover. (And incidentally, Hoover got a huge youth vote in 1928, on account of his humanitarian food work after WWI). Sometimes, the young just have to learn the hard way and if they elect Obama, they will learn a hard lesson. And that's why I looooove this book. It's a long, complicated and very much history-like read, which is why a lot of younger people will not read it, but it's so worth it, once the theory finally settles in your brain intact.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rob Salkowitz

    One of the most important and influential books of the last 20 years. Offers a completely novel way to look at American history with breathtaking explanatory and predictive power. A huge inspiration for my own work.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jen Watkins

    This is a fascinating way to learn history. It makes the history of the US very tangible. I am still deciding the extent to which history is shaped by the characteristics of the generation in charge. There are some revolutionary implications here.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John Beeler

    This book is a joke. Ha!

  14. 5 out of 5

    anguinea

    I really was intrigued by this book and find myself referring back to it a lot.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    Reading this with hopes to gain insight into why Trump is an actual candidate for presidency.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Martin Lowery

    Generations presented an unique and very interesting theory that could be applied to all of history as we know it. The book itself was tedious at times, and also very repetitive. While the first 100 pages, where the authors first formulate their theory, was fabulous, the proceeding chapters where they try and apply the theory to historical generations began to become dry. Towards the end, the book picks up, when it applies the generational theory to the modern day and makes predictions about the Generations presented an unique and very interesting theory that could be applied to all of history as we know it. The book itself was tedious at times, and also very repetitive. While the first 100 pages, where the authors first formulate their theory, was fabulous, the proceeding chapters where they try and apply the theory to historical generations began to become dry. Towards the end, the book picks up, when it applies the generational theory to the modern day and makes predictions about the millenials generation. As a civic generation, Strauss and Howe do make some general predictions, such as the a President running for hope and change in 2004 or 2008, only to be defeated by a reactionary President afterwords. Even though it was written in the 90s, one can't help but apply the predictions to today's political landscape.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Richards

    Approaching American history from the perspective of age location cohort groups moving through history, showing how different generations experience crises based on their upbringing, and how they interact with other generations was a really unique and invigorating. I have to credit Strauss and Howe for coming up with it. Unfortunately, they also came up with this really wacky hypothesis about how there are four basic "personalities" of generations (idealistic, reactive, civic, and adaptive) that Approaching American history from the perspective of age location cohort groups moving through history, showing how different generations experience crises based on their upbringing, and how they interact with other generations was a really unique and invigorating. I have to credit Strauss and Howe for coming up with it. Unfortunately, they also came up with this really wacky hypothesis about how there are four basic "personalities" of generations (idealistic, reactive, civic, and adaptive) that repeat in predetermined cycles, which I found to be unsupported by the historical record. Most of the time, especially from the chapters from 1584 to the early 1900s, it felt like they were cherry-picking quotes mostly from wealthy statesmen and prominent religious figures and used it to generalize the attitude of an entire generation to fit the "attitude" that generation was supposed to have according to their hypothesis. I would have been more persuaded by evidence that was much more representative of the country as a whole. There were also many other historical trends they ignored to justify their cycle theory. The first one I noticed was the lack of a global perspective and the impact of immigration on American society: it was mentioned early on that the "Puritan" and "Cavalier" generations were mostly from completely different parts of Britain and had different upbringings, but didn't discuss how this would lead to the next two generations (Glorious and Enlightenment) being raised by different sets of parents with different values. They also laregly ignored how industrialization impacted America and the divides between rural/urban, poor/rich, and racial minorities within generations. Why was the history of African Americans and how it interacted with the rest of American history largely considered during the Transcendental generation, then a few chapters later in the G.I. generations treated like they didn't exist at all outside Sidney Portier? I was also very frustrated in them not showing how history changes over time and how an "Idealist" generation in the 1700s is very different from one in the 1900s. The Great Awakening is treated in pretty much the same manner as the Consciousness revolution of the 1960s without showing how the influence of religion on American society actually has decreased over time. Many of their ideas about how "Reactive" generations always coddle their kids and "Adaptive" generations demonize their kids are starkly contradicted by material evidence I read in the history of American childhood by Karin Calvert that shows how ideas about what childhood even is greatly morphed from the Lockean principle of the Enlightenment age where they were seen as mini-humans to the Victorian age where they were innocent and untainted by the wickedness of adults. Probably worst of all is all the confirmation bias and the fact their cycles theory is completely unfalsifiable. They actually say that a civic generation was "skipped over" during the Civil War cycle because the Civil War didn't turn out as positively as other civil crises. Talk about fitting a square peg into a round hole! If anything would have disproved their theory of cycles, it should have been the evidence that there was a whole cycle that defied it. As their theory was able to explain away anything, this felt more like a book of prophecy or astrology than a book of history. Which it did become in the final section, where they used generational "costellations" to make some predictions for how the future of United States would shape up from 1991 when this book was published to 2069. By the way, as of 2015 most of their predictions have proved to be hilariously wrong. There are still a few reasons to read this book, mainly the fact that it's the only history of America of it's kind, it's entertaining, and it has a lot of interesting factoids about the different generations that put things into perspective (love the names they coined for all the generations, including the next two of "Millennial" and "Homeland" by the way.) There might also be a few insights to gain here and there. It's just a shame such a great concept had to be bogged down by a really terrible hypothesis and even worse evidence. I hope someone other than Howe takes a stab at writing a history of the American generations. Maybe the second time around will be the charm.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ben Newton

    I've been wanting to read this book for years because I had started wondering on my own if generations were substantively different from each other and moved in cycles, although I had only gotten as far as positing 2 generational archetypes and not the four this book suggests. I hadn't read the book before now because I was concerned I was a little bit TOO ready to embrace the ideas in this book and wouldn't be reading it with a critical enough eye. I think I was right, because it is the nature I've been wanting to read this book for years because I had started wondering on my own if generations were substantively different from each other and moved in cycles, although I had only gotten as far as positing 2 generational archetypes and not the four this book suggests. I hadn't read the book before now because I was concerned I was a little bit TOO ready to embrace the ideas in this book and wouldn't be reading it with a critical enough eye. I think I was right, because it is the nature of a book like this, making pronouncements about every American ever, that you must accept its ideas or not based on your own personal experience and inductive reasoning. The authors support their theory with examples, but even if they had tripled the size of the book and filled the entirety of that extra space with supporting evidence, they could easily have cherry-picked their data. That being said, I do think this book got a lot right, or at least made enough interesting points to be worthy of consideration. I wish that other authors had gotten interested in the idea and written some articles debating the details of the book's theory; I think that would have been a very interesting conversation. But, twenty years after this book was published, it doesn't look like anyone is going to be taking the bait. As far as I know, only the authors themselves have written any follow-on works to this one. There are three parts to this book. The first part lays out their idea of a four-part generation cycle and explains each generation's role in the cycle. The second part is brief, couple-page biographies of each of the eighteen generations (as defined by the authors) there have been in America since Europe began sending over colonists. The final part tries to extrapolate from the second and makes predictions about the general arc American history will take in the coming decades. My advice would be to skim the first part of the book and only really dig in once you get to the biographies. The first part is very dry and lays out a lot of vocabulary exactly one time and then the rest of the book assumes you are an expert in the vocabulary. You won't be able to (or at least I couldn't!) 100% follow the thread until you've gotten a little ways into the meat of the book and seen the authors' ideas in action. Reviewing this twenty years after publication, I can already comment on the accuracy of some of the predictions made in the book. The authors predict that if a secular crisis doesn't strike America by the year 2020 (terrorist attack or financial crisis were two possibilities they mentioned), the Baby Boom generation will manufacture one out of whatever minor issues they can lay to hand. Up until the crisis, Boomers will ratchet up a culture war, trying to purify all Americans to a set of morals (although they won't be able to agree amongst themselves which morals until the crisis hits), just as other idealist generations did before the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and WWII. Once the crisis hits, the Boom will finally unify around one set of ideals, and once they do the other generations will unify around them too. Generation X, hardbitten and pragmatic by dint of their relatively neglected youth, will become excellent managers of the crisis. And strictly-raised Millennial youth will cheerfully do what they're told and work together to achieve almost any goal that's put in front of them. So far, according to this theory, we should be in the middle of a passionate culture war... I think they're doing well. All this has also had the side effect of getting me pretty frustrated with the Boom, which is ironic considering the book was written by two boomers, and they seem to think highly of their generation!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Heather Denigan

    Even if one shouldn't swallow the authors' conclusions without careful chewing, there's plenty of good stuff here. Two main takeaways: the argument and the methodology. The first four chapters and Appendix A all contain great material. 1) Methodology: Strauss and Howe raise the question: What do we mean when we talk about "generations?" They point out that "generation" has no set definition and has been arbitrarily applied. It can mean 18 years or 40, depending on who you ask. It can mean everyon Even if one shouldn't swallow the authors' conclusions without careful chewing, there's plenty of good stuff here. Two main takeaways: the argument and the methodology. The first four chapters and Appendix A all contain great material. 1) Methodology: Strauss and Howe raise the question: What do we mean when we talk about "generations?" They point out that "generation" has no set definition and has been arbitrarily applied. It can mean 18 years or 40, depending on who you ask. It can mean everyone alive at given point in time or everyone born around a given point in time. Strauss and Howe argue against using straight horizontal or vertical definitions of generations. (It's not X or Y, it's graphed X,Y.) This means that they take into account both the national and the personal -- absent, deceased, or emotionally distant parents have a huge impact on their children and the effects last long past rising adulthood. The definitions of cohort and peer personality are also helpful. Strauss and Howe put history on a wave and argue that each generation will have different priorities. They offer hope in that the way things are now aren't the way they will always be. And if you're worried about a deficit of teachers or doctors or insert-pet-career-field-here, just wait a little bit and renewed interest will bubble up again. 2) Argument: That people move diagonally through time. People at different stages of life will react differently to events and to the generations before and after them. (Consider the 9/11 attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: I'm old enough to remember the event, but was not old enough at the time to understand their significance. Now my peers have reached the age where they are deploying to the war zones and returning with hurts that we may not yet fully understand. I *think* that this new crop of veterans is having to compete with veterans of past wars. The new crop is throwing itself into nonprofits and civic endeavors. The old guard is still holding marches and seeking recognition. I *think* -- that's the way it seems to me. 9/11 did not solidify Americans in the way that Pearl Harbor did.) While I'm not sure of the premise: that we can predict how future generations will act. We don't know how the next secular crisis or spiritual awakening will affect the nation's zeitgeist or shape its values and priorities. And we can divvy up generations by varying metrics. At any rate, the copyright on my edition is 1991. Over 20 years have passed since then. Pretty much everything that the authors have said about the Boomers still seems relevant. The authors sound hopeful for the millenials (even if their delineation of a millennial may differ from others). It's nice to see people rooting for the young folks.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Scot

    Well, that sucked. The overarching theory, that generations affect the society they live in, and the society affects the generations growing up in them, I can buy. Their specific 4-stroke generational theory, though? Not convincing at all. Early in the book, they make their case that what matters for a generation is birth year, not the parents of the generation. (they accompany this argument with a scientifically illiterate chart showing the spread of birth years from one generation to the next, i Well, that sucked. The overarching theory, that generations affect the society they live in, and the society affects the generations growing up in them, I can buy. Their specific 4-stroke generational theory, though? Not convincing at all. Early in the book, they make their case that what matters for a generation is birth year, not the parents of the generation. (they accompany this argument with a scientifically illiterate chart showing the spread of birth years from one generation to the next, in which the curves get smaller and smaller, implying a reduced population with each passing generation. Which is wrong, and bullshit, and the first big sign that this whole exercise is pointless. But I digress). So that's their main thesis, and then repeatedly through the rest of the book they state that the "first wave" of a generation is often very different from the "last wave" of that generation. If they're so different, why are they grouped together? And the "first wave" of one generation is often very similar to the "last wave" of the proceeding generation, and both groups usually have arenas from the same generation, completely undercutting the argument that the generation of the parents doesnt matter. The bulk of the book is an exercise in bible-code-esque finding patterns that don't actually exist, combined with astrology-esque vague predictions that can be declared correct no matter what happens, with a massive dose of making caricatures of the tone of a generation, and a huge amount of ignoring inconvenient facts. The generation born from 1960-1980 shows a lot of what is wrong with this book. they name this generation the "13ers". First off, that's an absolutely terrible name. And second, this generation is actually the 17th generation they talk about, not the 13th. So what happened is they came up with this grand theory of a 4-stroke generational cycle, then realized that even with all the hand-waving they could manage, the cycle only fit for for 2 of the 3 groups of generations they identified. Even stacking the deck, their theory didn't fit the data. So they went back and added on an earlier cycle (so far back in time that they could make any theory fit by judicious selection of the "facts" to present, so they could have a slightly-more-convincing (but not really convincing at all) 3 out of 4 success rate, instead of 2 out of 3. But then they were too lazy to go back and get rid of the stupid "13er" generation name, so they kept it as a big flashing sign of just how lame their argument is.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kristy

    This book is probably best read alongside The Fourth Turning by the same authors. Using historical data and adding their own work to the modern theory of generations, they show a pattern that repeats throughout American history. There are recurring cycles of spiritual awakenings and secular crises that impact and are impacted by the repeating types of generations they describe. For any scientists out there who are fans of the book Panarchy, this description of repeating cycles may sound very fami This book is probably best read alongside The Fourth Turning by the same authors. Using historical data and adding their own work to the modern theory of generations, they show a pattern that repeats throughout American history. There are recurring cycles of spiritual awakenings and secular crises that impact and are impacted by the repeating types of generations they describe. For any scientists out there who are fans of the book Panarchy, this description of repeating cycles may sound very familiar. (My husband, the scientist, pointed this out.) Generations was published in 1991, so some of its predictions can now be tested. According to the theory, we are now in a period of secular crisis, with a predicted major crisis point at around 2020. Sound about right?

  22. 5 out of 5

    Erik Rostad

    Exceptional book. The authors look back through American history to identify 4 generation types, 5 cycles of these 4 generations, and then take that information to extrapolate into the future. Written in 1991, their future predictions are frighteningly prescient. I loved this book. It provided a framework to consider American history. I wish I had read this earlier in life, for it would have helped me place historical events, people, and turning points within a setting of generations. It was amaz Exceptional book. The authors look back through American history to identify 4 generation types, 5 cycles of these 4 generations, and then take that information to extrapolate into the future. Written in 1991, their future predictions are frighteningly prescient. I loved this book. It provided a framework to consider American history. I wish I had read this earlier in life, for it would have helped me place historical events, people, and turning points within a setting of generations. It was amazing to see how the generation types repeat themselves on a fairly regular schedule. This is a favorite book of Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Al Gore, and Steve Bannon. I can now see why.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bobby J. Hill Jr.

    This book offers great insight into the generations of America and how they were shaped. Why they did the things they did. It also puts forth a radical theory of a cyclical pattern that American generations generally follow. Overall a very good, informative read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Johnny

    Everything in cycles.....poorly supported and generalistic examples pad a pretty fundamentally interesting read. Unfortunate that they cherry picked examples to fit their model rather take a truly objective look at generations. This book could've been GREAT, but as it stands it's merely GOOD.

  25. 5 out of 5

    CTEP

    This month I read the book Generations: The History of America’s Future from 1584-2069 by William Strauss and Neil Howe. The book addresses years of research by both authors in the expansive fields of sociology and history into patterns of generational movement. Early on they describe that people often have skewed views of history. For instance, when we think of our past Presidents they seem to be frozen in time. Miraculously they all are in their 40s-50s. However, we know this is not the case, This month I read the book Generations: The History of America’s Future from 1584-2069 by William Strauss and Neil Howe. The book addresses years of research by both authors in the expansive fields of sociology and history into patterns of generational movement. Early on they describe that people often have skewed views of history. For instance, when we think of our past Presidents they seem to be frozen in time. Miraculously they all are in their 40s-50s. However, we know this is not the case, that when some were reaching their 20s others were reaching their 80s etc and so Americans tend to lump our histories and our actions into groups inaccurately. For example we may think all people in their twenties act a particular way, when in reality we function in what Strauss and Howe call the Generation Diagonal. To explain this diagonal they offer the analogy of a trains. At any given time there are roughly four trains moving along the same pathway however these trains are at different points and cannot be expected to respond to the same conditions in the same manners though the experiences from their past trek will influence those behind them and the path ahead of them. It is their firm belief that the study of generations and cohort groups in such a way is a way to show the methods that people use to be affected by and to affect history. Throughout the book they establish that generations and historical events follow a cycle of four parts. The cycle follows that roughly every 20 or 22 years we experience four differing periods. These include: A Spiritual Awakening, Inner-Driven Reaction, A Secular Crisis, and Outer-Driven Adaptation. They follow the ways in which American history and the behaviors of generations that are either youth, rising in age, midlife, or elders are shaped by and shape these happenings. It is hard to explain the detail and extent of this study (the book is massive) but I would definitely encourage you to read it. The reason this book spoke so specifically to our work, and the reason I chose to read it, is due to its focus on how our generation is set to interact with the world. According to their theory we are the next Civic Minded Generation (the last being GIs around WWII- think Civilian Conservation Corps, this generation was skipped during the Civil War, the only anomaly for their theory, and therefore goes back to Revolutionary leaders.) The implications of our place in their historical cycle state that our generation will be less focused on spiritual ideals , not as entrenched in reacting to the systems in place from our elders (by either fighting against or adapting to), but rather will be focused on practical and active shifts to our secular world. I could go on for days about the predictive and accurate nature of how they projected in the early 90s when this was written that immigration tends to become of concern in a Civic coming of age era, that wars are often fought, sexual roles defined more broadly, the arts turn to protest, public means become questionable, and increasingly public institutions become aggressive. (It’s scarily dead on as they explain.) Their descriptions not only seemed to address a trend I’ve recognized among my peers both in and out of AmeriCorps (a rising need and desire to serve, seeking productive solutions to political problems, building on idealist dreams of the past with realist steps towards action etc), but also describe some difficulties I have experienced in working with primarily older generations. Many of the people I work with fit scarily into their generational profile according to the authors. Often times when collaborating with state employees I find myself in a very different position than those of an older age who are more familiar with the system in place. Often they speak in a manner that reacts in a resigned and discontent way to the manner of how things are done. Ideas will be spun around regarding individual opinions on how to change or better procedures but little is done. I find myself often thinking, what strategy can we take to do something about this? How do we take this advice and make something happen? What roles can we all play to make a difference? Though of course this is not true across the board, I have found particularly in working with CTEP members that my peers tend to be more capable of easily organizing and creating team plans for success. If Strauss and Howe are correct in their research, these differences could be explained by the generational diagonal. It is a struggle for me to put exactly into words the bulk of their 460 page, tiny little print, dense text but I would recommend exploring what sorts of similarities you may perceive to generations past and the ways they handled and created movements as well as looking at the differences between working with peers and youth and working with those in generations above us (generations are categorized as cohort groups ranging in about 22 year spans.)It certainly served as a motivational tool for my service for AmeriCorps, my approach to inter-generational collaboration, and my perspective on our current political situation.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Generations is a four and three quarters book. Its flawed in thinking too much of a schema. However, the schema is highly accurate. I read the book in 1999 and found it compelling, compelling enough to read the Fourth Turning, wherein, the authors toned down the...almost Hegelian or Platonic abstraction, into which one fits the empirical. I keep thinking of this book though, over years. A couple of things I wish to note: first is the survey of Generation X, as compared to a similar survey of what Generations is a four and three quarters book. Its flawed in thinking too much of a schema. However, the schema is highly accurate. I read the book in 1999 and found it compelling, compelling enough to read the Fourth Turning, wherein, the authors toned down the...almost Hegelian or Platonic abstraction, into which one fits the empirical. I keep thinking of this book though, over years. A couple of things I wish to note: first is the survey of Generation X, as compared to a similar survey of what then they did not have a specific term for, but I believe this book championed eventually our "Millennial" term. The survey asked GenX "in what way could you most contribute to History, society, your peers?" (I paraphrase), and GenX responded with "Art, Acting, Writing, Being a Celebrity" in preference over "Politics, Economics, Scholarship". The Millennials responded that it would be through Politics and Economics. Well, that has proven to be the case for of course, after three Generations of very busy Media, from Rock Start in the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's, Movie Stars and Art Star...all from the older, print industry, the competition field was getting a bit crowded. Then, the digital revolution happened, the whole means of production and what it meant to be an artist collapsed. Interactivity is a far better form, especially for Individualists, and perhaps what my GenX was seeking to achieve insofar as we had been so influenced by the older generations of artists, writers and personalities. The other schema, which is more dubious, is an axial: communal vs. individual and the ideal vs. pragmatic. Here is how it supposed to play out: the GI generation was communal and pragmatic, the proceeding Silent Generation was idealistic and individualistic (...well, that seems to play into creating a Generation that consumes writers, artists and musicians. The great artists celebrated by the Baby Boomer were actually of the Silent Generation.) The Baby Boomer were communal and idealistic, which plays out in the Hippie/Commune (I dont mean that as a put down) or Christian/Conservative, and of course, GenX plays out as individualistic and pragmatic. Hence, each generation is formulated by early reactionaries, or a reactionary mindset...which is quite true because the Generational identity is formed in High School and early adulthood, one Identity, and the easiest way to do this is by Reactionarism...which of course, I saw viscerally in the Baby Boomers. The also formulated an axis of sexual identity, wherein, the definitions harden, there are roles and rules to play for each sex, then the rules loosen, the definitions are seen to limiting, and then of course, the pendulum swings again, away from a amorphous polysexuality, back to hard and fast roles models to aspire to. They dropped this schema's in "The Fourth Turning", a publication from 1997. In the Fourth Turning, they instead introduce again a cyclical idea of a High (the 50's), Awakening (60's and 70's), Unraveling (80's and 90's), and Crisis (these days...)which is based upon Historical events and intergenerational relationships. There are websites established for Strauss and Howe's thinking, as they have formed a more generalized ideology into which events of the day are framed. Its a refreshing contrast to the typical polarities of the Left and Right, which I think are a dying legacy of a Industrial Print culture. It is four generations per period, a generation being roughly 20 years. So, there is sometimes, more briefly, two generations really fighting it out in the polis: acting, voting, speaking in a sense of the world being the totality of their thinking (and things will be this way for ALL TIME), for maybe a decade, but then the three generation dynamic emerges, as the other generations are phased out in extreme old age (wherein really most of the generational identity is discarded due to enough experience) and childhood, who dont really factor in as voters. Which, we have now emerged into a three Generation fight between Idealists, pragmatist, Communalist (National or Local?) and individualists. The Nationists, the Baby Boomers and their Millennial kids, are now in the majority. Yet, Strauss and Howe did not see the divide (or maybe they did I don't remember...its been over 15 years since reading the tome) between the old paper and print world and processes in which the Baby Boom and a good part of my generation are bound in world view vs. the transition into a digital age which the Millennials now own. I mean, the Baby Boomers, now mostly in their sixties, may have adapted to digital civilization, but its another layer which they think is subservient to what they current own of the old era: Television Studios, Newspapers and Magazine. Which are all losing money right now. Furthermore, I can see in comments sections of the varying ideological publications: there are commentators who precisely state, in a perfectly ambiguous tone, the flaw and ideology at the same time. Its done on right or left, wherein, the New Context (digital media) now puts the older, seeming "master context of mass media", into a bound box, in which the new media can observe and of course just instantly feel, the same old tired rhetoric, the same old tired techniques. Digital Natives was also used to anticipate how the Millennials are going to act, but the digital media has created a larger context into which its natives can easily spot the lying and bullshit of an old media which depended on Authority. We depended on the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Time Magazine, to check its own facts. But they dont really do it, for, its easy to do it online. The New Transparency is an end to wasteful paper and print, which is vulnerability to "drive by media", and could suffer double faced politicians. For, in digital media we can go back...we dont have to video tape the story, or, go to the library to fact check. The old media, wasteful, inhibits an informed bloc of voters, and clearly indicates a divide in thinking, wherein, the paper and print Industrial consumption mode is fast dying, and the digital instant reference, instant comment, interactive mode, far superior...even more superior than the old Oral vs. Writing methods! In fact the digital mode bring back the Oral a bit. So, being 60 years old now is living on the brink of changes in the world far more drastic and comprehensive than Industrialism... Anyway, Strauss and Howe grope around with this, perhaps one ear tuned to the then nascent "Wired" magazine rhetoric, but they probably underestimate it. The Individualists are going to lose out, that is, my Genx cohorts are going to be marginalized on the new stage of digital media, as the digital revolution, which includes the curtailing of "consumerist engineering", in order to reduce carbonification of the globe. There is of course going to be a generational will, on the part of the Millennials, to push the digital era out of a myopia of social fragmentation of Individualism, into a most effective tool for National Will and human progress. In fact, they are already doing it, and the faster and better we enable it, and this will costs, the sooner and more powerful American will emerge, still in advance (we sold the world computers). GenX will suffer too, from a real division in History, in irrelevance, almost as much as the Baby Boomers. But one could imagine shooting all those standing in the way of this progress for the sake of the future. The "Mills" should have made for them a royal road to this Global, digital world. So, I see this happening, and Strauss and Howe did not so much see it happening back in the 90's do to the plastering of this schema onto the empirical. Next, Francis Fukuyama's "End of History". Or, Foucault's general critique of Enlightenment values. Clear out the old, bring in the new, I say.

  27. 4 out of 5

    John Henry

    Eccl. 1:4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. Strauss and Howe write, “Just as history produces generations, so too generations produce history.” This interaction requires critical events, “social moments,” or spiritual awakenings, which define a generation. A generation can trigger a social moment, and therefore “define history.” (35) Strauss and Howe have shown that every generational cycle has four types of generations, which typically alternate dominant and rece Eccl. 1:4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. Strauss and Howe write, “Just as history produces generations, so too generations produce history.” This interaction requires critical events, “social moments,” or spiritual awakenings, which define a generation. A generation can trigger a social moment, and therefore “define history.” (35) Strauss and Howe have shown that every generational cycle has four types of generations, which typically alternate dominant and recessive generations. The current generational cycle includes the elder Civics, the G.I. generation, who are reaching the end of their lives. The Adaptives, the Silent generation, follows as the retired elders of today’s society. The Idealist generation, the Boomers, follow as the leading elders who are supposed to be providing principles and vision for the following generation of Reactive midlifers, the 13th generation. The 13th generation includes those who are currently taking roles of leadership in today’s society; they understand how the real world functions and lead accordingly. The next generation of Civics, the Millenials, are the rising adults and today’s student generation who are smart and organized preparing to do their duty; and finally the Adaptives, the next generation of children who emulate adults and make relatively few demands. Today’s Millenial generation are the Civics, the generation that “re-builds the outer world of technology and institutions.” (35) Strauss and Howe explain that Europe has not been as influenced by the generational changes, because it is a “tradition-shaped culture”, however in recent decades, as other societies have grown more open and mobile through the forces of globalization, this distinction between America and other societies may be disappearing. (37) Questions: What generations produced the haystack prayer meeting and the student volunteer movements? Both the Haystack Prayer Meeting and the Mount Hermon Bible Camp, where the SVM was birthed, took place at the onset, just before, the time of an Idealist Generation. The oldest members of the Idealists would have been just fourteen years old in 1806. (84) Samuel Mills was actually a member of the Compromise/Adaptive generation, a regressive generation coddled in childhood, which suffered little in war and came to age with a quiet obedience to the previous generation. (181) The Compromise generation was the first to coin the term “non-committal.” (185) How do Strauss and Howe define a spiritual awakening? A spiritual awakening, according to Strauss and Howe, can “alter the worldview of a whole people or culture.” (93) The focus of a spiritual awakening is on the private, inner life of the spirit, not on the public institutions, which a secular crisis produces. A spiritual awakening is a type of social event, which shapes a generation and which a generation can shape. Social events, such as spiritual awakenings, are not merely a single event, but a period of as much as ten years. During a spiritual awakening, the Idealists are rising into adulthood. Strauss and Howe explain how it was mostly young people, two hundred thousand or more, who were swept into the Christian faith at the time of the Great Awakening in the mid-1700’s. Over 250 new churches were planted in that spiritual awakening. (159) What is the effect of the intercourse between generations? Patterns of generational transition show the tendency toward conflict and criticism of previous generations and an accompanying confusion about the future. When a generational dialogue arises between two generations, particularly the “coming-of-age Civics and aging Idealists,” there is amazing potential to harness the worldly energy of the younger generation, the Millenials, while the older generation retains the Idealistic values. Millenials are entering the age when their central role is to act, serving, working and testing values. The older generation, the Boomers, have a new central role, which is to provide leadership, organization and management. The Civic generation, typically responds to a secular crisis through a heroic lifestyle of secular achievement and reward. Today Millenials are poised to respond, however some may still be following the patterns set by the recessive Thirteenth generation, with their diminished public role and tendency to give attention to the private world. The necessary interaction between the dominant Idealist Boomers and the dominant Civic Millenials is becoming urgent. Because the Boomer Idealist generation seems fractured and confined by the tyranny of a myriad of new ideas flourishing in separate camps, the Millenials are still waiting for their time to respond to what may yet be an even more urgent global problem. The endowment from one generation to another, according to Strauss and Howe, is outlined on a chart. The Idealist values of “truth” and leadership offering of “vision” should be endowed to the Adaptive generation, while encouraging “empowerment” and “community.” (365) The callings of the Idealists include preachers, teachers, radicals, and writers. Certainly the Boomers have their share of those callings. The callings of the Civics generation include statesmen, scientists, economists, diplomats, and builders. The important generational transition urgently requires a dialogue between these two generations today. (367) Is this generation entering a crisis era? Strauss and Howe relate that a crisis is the result of a “growing collective unity in the face of perceived social peril.” Typically, the secular crisis is a “danger to be overcome” and, after the society responds together, a “set of new ideals triumphs.” (76) The mood of a crisis era is when society’s transition into a secular crisis, much like the War on Terror today, produces a “grim preoccupation with outer world peril” until it grows into maximum intensity. Spiritual curiosity, the afterglow of the previous spiritual awakening social event, declines during a secular crisis. Worldly problems, though deferred or ignored during the spiritual awakening, are allowed to “congeal into a struggle requiring total consensus.” (356) If our generation has entered the crisis era, it is only the beginning. Some are responding to global warming and environmental crises, others are responding to HIV/AIDS, others may soon respond to water as a global crisis, however there still seems to be the convenience of too many choices, the carry-over of the narcissistic tendencies of the Idealist Boomers, who are now in leadership. A full crisis will produce aggressive public institutions and extreme personal sacrifice, which is not yet evident in the wider society in response to any of the global problems above, including the War on Terror. (Strauss 1991) Summary: We are in a period of history, a social moment, when historical events are radically altering our social environment. History is moving swiftly. The familiar world is disappearing and a new world is emerging. I have been particularly impressed how previous generations, such as the generation of Samuel Mills and the Haystack, appear to suddenly converge at the time of the Second Great Awakening producing a deepened responsibility and concern for people of other cultures with no Christian witness.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Baird

    Read this book in 91 when it was first published. It presented me with a wonderful perspective on looking at our past generation , and how they were affected in their youth, active age, and old influences. A wonderful application to everyday life and how we build our influences on the world. Now finished A Generation of Sociopaths and find it disturbing that my generation of the "Boomers" has provided a sad commentary on our current state as a country. Sadly our parents of the Civic Generation ( Read this book in 91 when it was first published. It presented me with a wonderful perspective on looking at our past generation , and how they were affected in their youth, active age, and old influences. A wonderful application to everyday life and how we build our influences on the world. Now finished A Generation of Sociopaths and find it disturbing that my generation of the "Boomers" has provided a sad commentary on our current state as a country. Sadly our parents of the Civic Generation (The greatest Generation to some) put a silver spoon in our mouths when we were young and we have never given it up. Our Sociopathic control of our countries assets and spoils now have a major impact on all future generations to come.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    I read this book fairly soon after it came out, and I found it to be an amazing exploration of how people and history interact by generation. It's all American (pre-United States and forward), and it explains why we talk about the Greatest Generation and Generation X and Millennials the way we do (even if we didn't really know why). It also explains why each generation is different and yet how they have followed a four-generation-type pattern (with one exception) over the years. While it is reall I read this book fairly soon after it came out, and I found it to be an amazing exploration of how people and history interact by generation. It's all American (pre-United States and forward), and it explains why we talk about the Greatest Generation and Generation X and Millennials the way we do (even if we didn't really know why). It also explains why each generation is different and yet how they have followed a four-generation-type pattern (with one exception) over the years. While it is really only applied to one geographical area, it has also been fun for me to look at other country's histories and see if I can figure out which generational type was in play at which time in their histories.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Woodruff

    Watch my video at organize365.com/youtube for a full review. Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069 helped me get clarity and articulate thoughts I had when I was doing in home professional organizing. The authors look at how generations repeat in archetypes and in dominant/recessive patterns. This book allowed me to understand how each generation and their influences have shaped the people around us. It crystallized my thinking about who we are in the world and how we intera Watch my video at organize365.com/youtube for a full review. Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069 helped me get clarity and articulate thoughts I had when I was doing in home professional organizing. The authors look at how generations repeat in archetypes and in dominant/recessive patterns. This book allowed me to understand how each generation and their influences have shaped the people around us. It crystallized my thinking about who we are in the world and how we interact with each other.

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