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NATIONAL BESTSELLER - "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 NATIONAL BESTSELLER - "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 five hundred 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 twenty 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.


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NATIONAL BESTSELLER - "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 NATIONAL BESTSELLER - "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 five hundred 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 twenty 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.

30 review for The Fourth Turning: What the Cycles of History Tell Us about America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny

  1. 4 out of 5

    Maru Kun

    If you want to give your self a fright then read this article on the pseudo-history of Strauss-Howe Generational Theory, then read this book and finally reflect on the fact that, as reported in Time Magazine, it is one of the favorite works of Steve Bannon as it forms the basis of these beliefs: Bannon noted repeatedly on his radio show that "we're at war" with radical jihadis in places around the world. This is "a global existential war" that likely will become "a major shooting war in the M If you want to give your self a fright then read this article on the pseudo-history of Strauss-Howe Generational Theory, then read this book and finally reflect on the fact that, as reported in Time Magazine, it is one of the favorite works of Steve Bannon as it forms the basis of these beliefs: Bannon noted repeatedly on his radio show that "we're at war" with radical jihadis in places around the world. This is "a global existential war" that likely will become "a major shooting war in the Middle East again." War with China may also be looming, he has said. The fright comes when you consider that this loony is currently the Senior Counselor to the most ignorant man in mainstream US politics today, the 45th President, as well as sitting on the United States National Security Council. And for all of the people that liked this book and are cheering on the coming collapse, before you award it the Goodreads five stars I think you should seriously consider whether you want your children conscripted into a war started as a result of Trump's ignorance and Bannon's loony theories.

  2. 4 out of 5

    J.

    The Fourth Turning explains a theoretical approach to history - a cyclical system of societal high, awakening, unraveling and crisis. Each period has a corresponding stereotype: prophet, nomad, hero and artist. The time period for a cycle is the course of a generation, deemed a saeculum. Each of the four periods in a saeculum lasts between 17 to 29 years. The authors piece together historical events to fit their theory. The only abnormality (that they acknowledge) is the U.S. civil war. I did no The Fourth Turning explains a theoretical approach to history - a cyclical system of societal high, awakening, unraveling and crisis. Each period has a corresponding stereotype: prophet, nomad, hero and artist. The time period for a cycle is the course of a generation, deemed a saeculum. Each of the four periods in a saeculum lasts between 17 to 29 years. The authors piece together historical events to fit their theory. The only abnormality (that they acknowledge) is the U.S. civil war. I did not agree with their classification of generations or stereotypes, their decisions about 'crisis' periods, or their proposed preparations to prevent total and lasting destruction. This book is poorly written. It is a potpourri of random facts, scholarly borrowings and unsubstantiated claims. The authors cite numerous types of cycles, most of which are not relevant to their thesis. They also cite dozens of parallel claims by historical scholars; yet they only use "money quotes" without any substantive analysis. While the authors present a novel idea, and there are clearly repetitions in historical periods, this pre-packaged form of history troubles me on several levels. First, their cited events rely on a mythological understand of history, with many important facts and events conveniently forgotten. Second, this form of simplified history rejects a careful and nuanced understanding of complicated world events. Third, it pretends that we can actually understand and predict history by reading charts - a claim mostly made by cult leaders and hedge fund managers. Finally, their approach is set forth as universal, yet the book is devoid of international examples. If China has retained civil society for thousands of years, why isn't this cycle more obvious there? The authors have an obvious right-wing agenda. The preparations urged onto their readers for the coming crisis are typical of John Birch evangelism. I couldn't help but picture the authors sitting next to John Forbes Nash, Jr. ("A Beautiful Mind") in a garage pinning random Life Magazine articles to the wall and drawing lines through seemingly random events to construct an alternate universe.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    Wow! I could totally see why Obama won the election after reading this--and why McCain did not. This is an amazing book on the patterns of history--and, as it was written 10 years ago, a dead-on prediction of the last 10 years. After reading it, I'm preparing for another crisis in the next 5 years. (I personally think the next American Crisis is going to be a cultural civil war--we'll see!) Wow! I could totally see why Obama won the election after reading this--and why McCain did not. This is an amazing book on the patterns of history--and, as it was written 10 years ago, a dead-on prediction of the last 10 years. After reading it, I'm preparing for another crisis in the next 5 years. (I personally think the next American Crisis is going to be a cultural civil war--we'll see!)

  4. 5 out of 5

    John

    The first quarter of this book is junk. It's a review of moldy pseudoscience about theories of four - four humours, four elements, four seasons, four temperaments, four phases of life. It has little or nothing to do with the central premise that there is a four generation cycle of behavior in Angle-American society - all you have to do to justify the length of this cycle to me is to point out that the normal death from old age occurs about four generations after birth. After the authors finish w The first quarter of this book is junk. It's a review of moldy pseudoscience about theories of four - four humours, four elements, four seasons, four temperaments, four phases of life. It has little or nothing to do with the central premise that there is a four generation cycle of behavior in Angle-American society - all you have to do to justify the length of this cycle to me is to point out that the normal death from old age occurs about four generations after birth. After the authors finish with the above nonsense, they get into actually detailing the different cycles, and the subsections of each. There have been seven cycles since the 1400s, and each cycle has four subsections called Turnings, each corresponding to a particular constellation of generations. There are four kinds of generations and they always appear in the same order (except for once!): Hero, Artist, Prophet, and Nomad. There are therefore four Turnings: High, Awakening, Unraveling, and Crisis. The social environment (constellation of generations) determines the values and behavior of each new generation, which influences the future generations, so the cycles keep rolling. The theory is not deterministic - it does not predict what events will happen - it only tries to predict how Americans will respond to events that inevitably occur. This makes a lot of intuitive sense to me and the authors present a lot of evidence to back up their assertions. However, I have not looked for criticisms of their work or know enough about the history of social movements to say whether there is substantial counter evidence. The book was written in 1997, and it is interesting to read how the authors feel the Silent (b. 1925-1942, Artist), Boom (b. 1943-1960, Prophet), Thirteenth (b. 1961-1981, Nomad), and Millennial (b. 1982-200?, Hero) generations would develop over the next decade (that is, the last decade from where we sit), before the Crisis catalyst arrived somewhere around 2005. To me, it seems like they miss the mark. Maybe I don't have a good grasp of what's really going on outside my own experience, maybe they were wrong, or maybe the Crisis started earlier than they expected (say, September 2001). Missed predictions aside, they seem to get a lot of the general feeling of American society right. All in all, interesting to think about.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Trike

    Prescient. These guys, who were the ones to name “Millennials”, published this book in 1997 and were right about America entering a crisis sometime around 2005, either a few years before (9/11) or a few years after (2008 financial crash), predicting a new wave of feminism (#MeToo), cultural upheaval (Black Lives Matter) and a turn toward conservative and religious beliefs with a strong streak of authoritarianism. They were able to do this because it has all happened before. Six times over the pas Prescient. These guys, who were the ones to name “Millennials”, published this book in 1997 and were right about America entering a crisis sometime around 2005, either a few years before (9/11) or a few years after (2008 financial crash), predicting a new wave of feminism (#MeToo), cultural upheaval (Black Lives Matter) and a turn toward conservative and religious beliefs with a strong streak of authoritarianism. They were able to do this because it has all happened before. Six times over the past 500 years of Anglo-American history, in fact. As the saying goes, “History doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes.” Like the four seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, our society experiences cycles: Awakening, High, Unraveling and Crisis. The 80s and 90s were the Unraveling, and we are now in the Crisis... the winter of our discontent. Chillingly, each Crisis tends to resolve in total war. The American Revolution, the US Civil War, the Great Depression leading into World War II. We are on-track for the next violent paroxysm to begin any day now, resolving around 2025-2026. One can only hope that Einstein’s (probably apocryphal) comment doesn’t come true: “I don’t know what weapons we’ll use for WWIII, but WWIV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Short video summing up the ideas of the book: https://youtu.be/8Yfb2zQjKWE Also: https://youtu.be/Wr9IdY_zA-M

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christy Peterson

    There is so much corruption that I am looking forward to this next crisis. This attitude is predicted on page 257. Do I realize what I am actually saying? Maybe. I give it 5 stars for introducing a new paradigm that understands history as cyclic, not linear. I loved the hero cycle described in the archetype and am going to read Hero With a Thousand Faces soon. I was fascinated at how wars turn out and are remembered in history when they aren’t 4th Turning wars. The Civil War and was a fascinatin There is so much corruption that I am looking forward to this next crisis. This attitude is predicted on page 257. Do I realize what I am actually saying? Maybe. I give it 5 stars for introducing a new paradigm that understands history as cyclic, not linear. I loved the hero cycle described in the archetype and am going to read Hero With a Thousand Faces soon. I was fascinated at how wars turn out and are remembered in history when they aren’t 4th Turning wars. The Civil War and was a fascinating anomaly and leaves you wondering even more, what could have been if things were handled differently. I give it 3-4 stars for the horoscopic generalizations of generations. You can’t help but think of the people you know that are from a mentioned generation and none that I know personally fit neatly into their summary. I realize that we are from a different mold, and don’t fit neatly into pop culture. Yay for that. Strauss and Howe seem to be right about half the time with their prophecies and generations I first heard about this book from talks given by Oliver DeMille and Shannon Brooks on a number of CDs, MP3s and seminars. Then it was presented that the catalyst into the 4th turning was almost certainly 9-11. As we look back, we can see that it was not. This website explains it well. Incidentally, Howe’s website link to 9-11 perspective doesn’t work. I did find this YouTube video of Howe speaking about his work. (Strauss died in Dec 2007) At 28 min he states that we are in the beginning stages of the 4th turning. They seemed to speak of FDR’s work favorably. I almost hurled. The interview with Howe ends just after 29 min. So the catalyst for this upcoming crisis is now thought to be the economic crash 2007-2008. This book is a must read by everyone, even hearing about it several times in the above mentioned sources didn’t completely get me out of my old paradigm of linear history. Yes, I understood the patterns and principles and knew that civilizations rise and fall but I must not have completely understood that there are patterns and principles and that civilizations rise and fall. I got it now. The beginning discussed at length the relationship between Prophets and Heroes. I wasn’t sure I liked being a Nomad. By the end, I was satisfied with my generational role. Washington, Patton, Wythe, Adams, Patrick Henry, and John Locke were all Nomads. Good company. I don’t think this is a fast read for many readers, definitely wasn’t for me. I was constantly referring back to the generation names and turnings. Perhaps it would have been easier if the archetype was always included with the name of the generation being discussed. By the end, it had been repeated so much that I finally had the recent generations/archetypes down. As this was written in 1997, I was curious about people in politics today, specifically 2012 political candidates and where past and present leaders from my church fit in. I also wanted to put family members on the generational chart. That’s where the horoscopic generalizations were a little irritating. So the next president needs to be from the prophet generation, to lead us through the next crisis. This fits most of the candidates, except for Obama who is a Nomad by 1 year (if only that could be a requirement ;) ) Obama definitely DOES NOT fit in with the tightening-down conservative Nomad description. Here is what I found: Prophet/Transcendental: Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Willford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow Nomad/ Glided: Joseph F Smith Artist/Progressive: Heber J Grant Prophet/Missionary: George A Smith, David O McKay, Joseph F Smith Nomad/Lost: Harold B Lee, Spencer W. Kimball, Ezra T Benson, Marion G Romney Hero/GI: Gordon B Hinckley, Howard W Hunter, Boyd K Packer, Russell M Nelson, L Tom Perry and my sweet Grandma Artist/Silent: Thomas S Monson, Dieter Uchtdorf, Dalin Oaks, M Russell Ballard, Richard G Scott, Robert Hales, Jeffery Holland, Quentin Cook, Ron Paul, John McCain Prophet/Boom: David Bednar, Todd Christofferson, Neil L Anderson, Strauss and Howe, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman Jr., Herman Cain (wouldn’t Cain vs. Obama be INTERESTING!) Nomad/13th Generation (or Gen. X): Obama, Glenn Beck, Me, my husband, most of my friends Hero/Millennial: 5 of my children Artist/New Silent: 1 of my children I am a little worried about the upcoming hero generation. Are they boy-scoutish enough or too busy playing computer games, watching movies and wired to iThings? I think the valiant ones are a small number. I pray that the analogy that small rudders turn big ships holds true. Lord knows I am doing my best to raise such Heroes. Strauss and Howe’s 4th Turning isn’t the only cyclical perspective of history; The Tytler cycle and the Book of Mormon Pride Cycle are examples. So much history is mentioned (duh) that it is a good springboard for years of study, already grouped into turnings. I truly am anxiously waiting for the buckling down and rebuilding of America that is supposed to happen. It is vital that it be done by educated citizens to make sure it goes right, or we could be transformed into a total aristocracy or dictatorship.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Alexander

    It’s important for futurists to examine flawed futuring work and learn from it. I’ve said this before, reflecting on my own forecasting misfires. I haven’t offered many criticisms of others’ work, largely for reasons of time. I’d like to start doing some more of this. Why? There are all kinds of benefits to this kind of analysis. One involves testing the limits of a given method (Delphi, trends extrapolation, etc.) by seeing what it misses… which then suggests how one can either modify the method It’s important for futurists to examine flawed futuring work and learn from it. I’ve said this before, reflecting on my own forecasting misfires. I haven’t offered many criticisms of others’ work, largely for reasons of time. I’d like to start doing some more of this. Why? There are all kinds of benefits to this kind of analysis. One involves testing the limits of a given method (Delphi, trends extrapolation, etc.) by seeing what it misses… which then suggests how one can either modify the method or choose to use it in addition to another approach. A second benefit concerns blind spots. For example, in his criminally underrated work on global inequality (cf my notes) Branko Milanovic notes that 1970s futures work focused so heavily on the Cold War’s primary antagonists – the USA and USSR – that they utterly failed to not only predict, but even pay much attention to nations that sidestepped the conflict’s core: Yugoslavia, for example, and most especially China. This is an understandable mistake, given the huge dimensions of the US-Soviet struggle, not to mention the stakes (possible human extinction), but it was a mistake. Seeing it now drives us to look for our own blind spots. A third reason to prod older futures work is to understand how the broader public perceives futuring. Which projects win followings tells us something about present attitudes. Today’s example is a popular and influential book, The Fourth Turning (1997; official site), by the gurus of generational thinking, William Strauss and Neil Howe. It claims to have discovered a deep and sustained structure to American history, one which will continue to function in the future. Understanding this code will therefore help prepare us for upcoming changes. The code involves a multi-step sequence, each of which lasts about eighty to one hundred years, a period the authors refer to as a “saeculum”. Within each saeculum are four phases, or “turnings“: High: “an upbeat era of strengthening institutions and weakening individualism, when a new civic order implants and the old values regime decays.” Awakening: “a passionate are of spiritual upheaval, when the civic order comes under attack from a new values regime.” Unraveling: “a downcast era of strengthening individualism and weakening institutions, when the old civic order decays and the new values regime implants.” Crisis: “a decisive era of secular upheaval, when the values regime propels the replacement of the old civic order with a new one.” (3; 101-104) Within each turning comes a “generational archetype“. The High spawns a “Prophet generation”, the Awakening a “Nomad generation”, the Unraveling a “Hero”, and the Crisis an “Artist.” (19) . Each generation cycles through these types, although I think what this means is that a generation produces a small group of people embodying these patterns, rather than an entire generation becoming artists, nomads, etc. Mount Rushmore, photo by the Chris Collins family “Looking from left to right… Nomad, Hero, Artist, and Prophet.” (91) Most of the book involves working this code out across American history and the then-present, with raids on other histories, historiography, and a final lunge at the future. For example, Strauss and Howe explain that a recent “High” was 1945-1963, followed by an “Awakening” through the 1980s, an “Unraveling” into the 1990s, and an upcoming “Crisis” around 2005-2007. To sum up: “we are presently in the Third Turning of the Millennial Saeculum, the seventh cycle of the modern era… giving birth to the twenty-fourth generation of the post-Medieval era” (19, 123). The authors insist on the power of their system. They think the timing can wriggle around a bit, but the turnings must happen in order and within that 80-100 year frame. They allow “accidents” (events which don’t fit the system), but insist that what really matters about such events is “society’s response to them” (116; emphasis in original). They don’t have much interest in humility; the book’s subtitle is “an American prophecy.” One of the biggest problems with the book is classic problem of trying to cram all of history into a narrow frame. Its judgements are so impressionistic that they are sometimes simply wrong. Describing the Kennedy administration, the authors refer to its imagining of the future as having “specificity and certainty but lack[ing] urgency and moral direction.” (101) I’m still not sure what that means, but I’m not sure it works on its face. The Apollo program, the US intervention in Vietnam, the civil rights struggle certainly possessed urgency. Moral direction suffused the New Frontier and its expansion of the Cold War, not to mention black organizing against white racism. Soylent Green posterEarly on the text looks back 25 years to early 1970s forecasting, which is a fine thing to do. One passage cites Soylent Green (good) and EPCOT (ok) as attempts to predict futures which didn’t happen. I’m not sure what EPCOT got wrong in this sense (surely world is more technologically immersed?), but yes, we didn’t head into a world of massive overpopulation and industrialized cannibalism. (Personally, I see the latter, especially voiced by the Club of Rome, as a fine example of futures work not as prophecy but as warning, and therefore as a success.) Strauss and Howe then build on their thought in a peculiar way: late-seventies forecasters made a more fundamental error… they all assumed America was heading somewhere in a hurry. No one would have imagined what actually happened: that through the 1980s and 1990s, while different societal pieces have drifted in different directions, America as a whole has gone nowhere in particular. (18) This sounds appealing for about one tenth of one second, until you start thinking about the massive developments of those two decades. The internet, for example; AIDS and progress in gay rights; the birth of the modern right wing, starting with the Moral Majority; the Democratic party’s hard turn to the center and right; the end of the ozone hole crisis; massive rearmament; the drastic resurgence of income inequality. Not to mention the whole nearly destroying the world thing in 1983, the end of the Cold War, and the first of a new world order. You know, “nowhere in particular.” Elsewhere, one passage offers a handy one-sentence summary of the “turning” idea: “In a High, people want to belong; in an Awakening, to defy; in an Unraveling, to separate; in a Crisis, to gather.” (112; emphases in original) This sounds roughly right, if we read back our history in a friendly way. Sure, people gather together in a crisis, and so on. But if we read critically, we find people acting in all four of those lines throughout history, breaking out of the four-phase template. People, especially Americans, are delighted to defy and separate every decade and probably every year since Plymouth Rock. Again, these formulae become bromides, or simply fall apart when taken seriously. This impressionism also leads to some serious blind spots. A quick tour through British history, applying the code back as far as the fifteenth century, identifies the War of the Roses and the Glorious Revolution as epochal events, while utterly missing the English Civil War, that revolution, Cromwell’s regime, and the Restoration, each at least as important as the foregoing, and probably more so. But the timing’s off, so 1640-1660 doesn’t get its bullet points and position on helpful tables (45). Speaking of British history, Strauss and Howe are quite open about seeing American history in that light. They admit that Americans came from other nations and continents (Asia, Africa, the rest of Europe) and that some didn’t arrive at all (Native Americans), but set those aside because the great cycle started with the British (94). Another blind spot swims into our view when the authors address demographic issues other than their generational dynamic. They see anxieties about overpopulation only in terms of their saeculum, and can’t account for a multi-generational project to redo millennia of human population practices when it’s right before their eyes, except to cram it back into their framework (194-5). That this development could warp their model – do only children react differently to their forebears than kids among broods of a dozen? – remains unaddressed. We can see this in the authors calling on GenX to become “America’s largest potential generational voting bloc.” (327) Setting aside questions of mobilization, this fails for two reasons: GenX is much smaller than Boomers or Millennials, a fact clearly known in the 1990s; mass media love ignoring GenX, a fact which we in that generation could have told you, had you asked us. The generational archetypes strike me as the weakest part of The Fourth Turning. They offer glancing glimpses into historical figures encountered for the first time, but offer little insight beyond that, and ultimately fail to characterize people usefully. Prophets, for example, include religious leaders, as one might expect. They also number atheists, managers, and war leaders. “Their principle endowments are in the domain of vision, values, and religion… These have been principled moralists, summoners of human sacrifice, wagers of righteous wars.” (96) In short, a “Prophet” is just about any political, religious, or cultural leader. Similarly, “Nomads” include “Stonewall Jackson, George Patton… George Washington and John Adams, Ulysses Grant and Grover Cleveland, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower… Their principle endowments are in the domain of liberty, survival, and honor.” (96) Elsewhere we learn that Huey Long and Boss Tweed were also nomads (269). At this point I’m not sure why the authors even use the term “nomad” (John Adams?!). They certainly aren’t addressing nomadic patterns within native American nations. Perhaps they are referring to physical mobility, hence Patton and Grant? We can easily swap personages between these two categories with at least as much logic as the authors show for including them. The other two archetypes offer the same superficial sense and deeper uselessness. It reaches the point where Andrew Jackson and Walter Mondale are lumped together (!) as “Artists”. A similar problem attends the idea of “gray champions.” (139ff) Strauss and Howe pick up Hawthorne’s story of the same name (1837) to identify a figure who prophecies the advent of a fourth turning. But the generic, impressionistic nature of this figure means it can arrive at any time, and embody basically any message, from reactionary to radical. Ultimately the strong claims of the book are either too flimsy or unfalsiable to be of use. These problems vitiate what must have been the book’s most vital section when it appeared, its description of and advice about an upcoming fourth turning (270ff). It begins in a promising way, offering a series of potential crises, from state secession to disease outbreaks. One of them actually comes pretty close to 9-11, imagining a terrorist strike, but with different nuclear and financial consequences. Then things become too light to be useful. One sober page reminds us that crises can trigger all kinds of distress (277). Older people will warn young people about stuff (279, 285). Xers will not be happy all the time. A currency devaluation will cripple Boomer finances – ah, well, that didn’t happen. A “great leader” will lead us into “a new High” – well, give it time, I suppose; again, this narrative arc could occur at any time, saecularly fitted or otherwise (300). We might see popular desires for more free market economics, or less (310). The advice we get is similarly weak tea. We’re told to remember this is a different era than certain prior times. A “Lincoln-like leader” might spark secession or greater unity, depending on timing. We should “forge [a] consensus and uplift the culture” but “don’t attempt reforms that can’t now be accomplished.” “Treat children as the nation’s highest priority, but don’t do their work for them.” “Expect the worst [on defense] and prepare to mobilize, but don’t precommit to any one response.” These are all generic, middle of the road nostrums that don’t really guide us one way or the other. One bit of advice is actually quite specific. Strauss and Howe recommend that we trim government spending. “We should shed and simplify the federal government in advance of the Crisis by cutting back sharply on its size and scope…” Related to this is a hedged call to “Tell future elders they will need to be more self-sufficient, but don’t attempt deep cuts in benefits to current elders.” It seems like an economically conservative message is buried therein. Now,. there are some useful insights in The Fourth Turning. Opponents of the Obama and Trump administrations would each be glad to see that the book anticipated a return to “authoritarian government… rested and refreshed.” (108) Strauss and Howe based their code on a basic observation about intergenerational struggle, a development humans have thought about since Procopius complained in the sixth century about Byzantine kids wearing Hun-style haircuts to irk their elders, and probably earlier than that. But Strauss and Howe go a little farther, offering the idea that generations sometimes share commonality via leapfrog: “Your generation isn’t like the generation that shaped you, but it has much in common with the generation that shaped the generation that shaped you.” (79; emphases in original) . Call it the Harold and Maude hypothesis, but it’s a neat concept. I was also impressed at how the book admitted one giant flaw in its system: the American Civil War. For two pages (121-2) the text explores what it deems to be “the only conspicuous anomaly” to its scheme. I admire how the discussion tries to apply the turnings and generational archetypes and ultimately finds them falling apart. The book’s fierce determinism exits for just a moment, and the authors return agency to human individuals. It’s a rough spot, one which the rest of the book sidesteps, but one I appreciate. I’m reminded of how Steven Pinker tries to fit WWI and WWII into his narrative of declining rates of human violence. Strauss and Howe do a better job in this brief passage. There are other problems with the book. A text so keenly focused on the future barely touches on science fiction at all, and then ignores the great creative works about the future (think of Heinlein’s future history, or Asimov’s Foundation sequence!). It tries to coin some new terms, which the best that can be said of is they didn’t take. Generation Xers remain Xers, not “the Thirteenth” (although I enjoyed being evoked by Rosemary’s Baby (194)). While there isn’t a widely accepted nickname for the years 2000-2009, I don’t think any human beings other than Strauss and Howe have thought of them as “the Oh Ohs.” My final nit to pick: the index is terrible, only a list of names, and not a useful one at that. So to return to my framing device: what can we learn from this kind of flawed futuring? Method: this kind of “key to all mythologies” scheme is not very useful for serious analysis or futuring. Paying attention to generational differences has some advantages, but we should hesitate before building systems on top of them. Blind spots: in 2018 I probably don’t have to remind readers of the importance of paying attention to populations other than straight white males, but that’s one group of blind spots this book struggles with. A less obvious point is taking demographics seriously, as this book fails to do. I am intrigued at the pre-2001 approach to religion. Religion here appears mostly as a historical artifact, faintly echoed in the New Age movement. Radical Islam does not appear, serving instead as a black swan. Big, big blind spot. Popular understanding of futures work: first, American really love their generational tribes. We adore self-identifying by Boomer, Xer, Greatest. The authors helped stoke this affection, and it rewarded them well. Futures work that speaks to strong identity markers has a good shot of winning and audience. Second, busy people like handy sketches. Fourth Turning is a longish book, but the schema is clear, repeated throughout, and represented through many charts and tables. Third, more deeply: this is a very 1990s book. It is suffused with neoliberalism’s cultural win, such as its call to cut back on elder services. I’m not sure how far this goes, since so much of the futuring is cloudy or think. One of the authors apparently worked with Steve Bannon on a film, but I don’t see Breitbart in The Fourth Turning. Instead this is closer to second term Bill Clinton. These three present challenges to me as a futurist. Methodologically I try to use several tools, but research and time demands place trend identification and extrapolation at the top of my agenda, so I need to correct that imbalance. I don’t share the authors’ blind spots about demographics or religion, but then again, that’s how blind spots work. I need to know what I miss. As a creator and business leader, I’m not sure I’ve connected as well with my audience as Strauss and Howe did. I address people by their professional identities, in terms of job and institutional situation, but not much more than that. I really fail to provide accessible sketches. So this is a good prompt for me to improve outreach skills. (cross-posted on my blog)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Celeste Batchelor

    UPDATE: Re-reading this one as part of a study group. I'm excited to STUDY this one deeper. This was a necessary, but a tough read. I recommend it even though I only gave it three stars. I learned a great deal from this book, I just wish it was explained in more layman's terms. At times I felt angry and even stopped reading the book for a few days to clear my head of hurt feelings when reading of my Boomer generation parents and how they parented. I did find these generalizations to be true for UPDATE: Re-reading this one as part of a study group. I'm excited to STUDY this one deeper. This was a necessary, but a tough read. I recommend it even though I only gave it three stars. I learned a great deal from this book, I just wish it was explained in more layman's terms. At times I felt angry and even stopped reading the book for a few days to clear my head of hurt feelings when reading of my Boomer generation parents and how they parented. I did find these generalizations to be true for the most part. What I Liked: - It explains the reasons for our current situation economically, politically, and culturally. - Teaches about cyclic history and how it can be explained and even predicted. - It explains why generations behave as they do, including the Generation X or 13ers of which I belong. What I Didn't Like: - The logic is explained, but is overly deep and detailed to the point of confusion. - I think the same things could have been explained in a clearer language. - The generations are very generalized, which as an "13er" who was raised to think individually and not collectively is hard to digest.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Reads & Reviews

    I'll give 2 or 3 reasons why this book should be read and trashed by everyone. First, it is only a hypothesis, not a theory because the premise has not been generally accepted. Despite that, consultants and speakers are perpetuating the ideas and sparking groups of true believers who adhere to it like a new religion, on faith instead of sound research or discourse. Steve Bannon, self proclaimed Leninist and adviser to SCPOTUS Trump is a prominent proponent of the Strauss–Howe generational hypoth I'll give 2 or 3 reasons why this book should be read and trashed by everyone. First, it is only a hypothesis, not a theory because the premise has not been generally accepted. Despite that, consultants and speakers are perpetuating the ideas and sparking groups of true believers who adhere to it like a new religion, on faith instead of sound research or discourse. Steve Bannon, self proclaimed Leninist and adviser to SCPOTUS Trump is a prominent proponent of the Strauss–Howe generational hypothesis. Like all fanatics, these folks will bend and select data that supports their desired outcome and ignore the rest. Their claims lack rigorous empirical evidence. They gloss over arguments that point real differences. This happens a lot and normally, I wouldn't care because time usually sorts out the bad hypotheses from those that become actual theories. Look at all the times the world was supposed to end and didn't. People were so sure. They had biblical and blah blah proof. But it didn't end, at least not in this parallel universe. Now, I'll tell you why I'm peeved. Because the people (Bannon) who have FAITH in this hypothesis are trying to make it come about. Bannon is an outcast who wants to be relevant. He's directing Trump, writing those executive orders that Trump doesn't read, and ushering in a dark age for my country. Normally, such craziness wouldn't survive, but add the Putin angle, and the fact the GOP has been priming the country for years to disregard truth and morality...and what do you get? An apocalypse--which is the expected and desired end by a whole other set of religious crazies who have usurped their own God and in favor of taking the destruction of the Earth into their own hands. Welcome to the man-made Armageddon.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Natasha

    Strauss and Howe make a strong argument for studying time cyclically. Not only does a definite pattern of seasons of growth and decay emerge over the centuries, but generations are formed determined by their relation in time to historical events. For example, generations who come of age during a crisis take on a hero role as they march in step to the orders of their elders and save the day. The authors claim, "When history is viewed as seasonal . . . each generation can discover its own path acr Strauss and Howe make a strong argument for studying time cyclically. Not only does a definite pattern of seasons of growth and decay emerge over the centuries, but generations are formed determined by their relation in time to historical events. For example, generations who come of age during a crisis take on a hero role as they march in step to the orders of their elders and save the day. The authors claim, "When history is viewed as seasonal . . . each generation can discover its own path across time, its own meaningful linkage to ancestors and heirs" (page 332). Consider viewing two perspectives of a race track. The athlete pounding the pavement experiences the race one step at a time, seeing only a few steps ahead on the curves, but a greater distance on the straightaways. Now pull back your perspective and observe the track from the bleachers. The spectator can see the whole track at once, and observes the cyclical pattern of each heat of racers. Similarly, time can be observed from these two perspectives: living in the moment and noting the patterns of history. Those of us currently running the race of time can learn from viewing time as a cycle, with each curve in the track a season. William Strauss and Neil Howe have delineated what can be learned by taking such a perspective of America's past in their book, The Fourth Turning. As each cycle of history draws to its final season, or Fourth Turning, it approaches a pivotal point, or crisis, analogous to the tight curve on the track. Although the specific crisis cannot be easily foreseen, the cycles teach us when to anticipate its arrival and how to prepare for it. We can learn as much from studying what can go wrong, as what can go right. For this reason, as we approach the next Fourth Turning, it is advantageous to look at events surrounding the Civil War. Strauss and Howe state, For any other Fourth Turning in American history, a historian would be hard-pressed to imagine a more uplifting finale than that which actually occurred. For the Civil War, a better outcome can easily be imagined. Yes, the Union was preserved, the slaves emancipated, and the Industrial Revolution fully unleashed¨Cbut at enormous cost. . . If learning from their example enables us to avert a catastrophe in the next Fourth Turning, our debt to the generations of Clay, Lincoln, and Grant will be very great indeed. (pages 121-2) What went wrong with the Civil War? The North and South were polarized over the slavery debate despite the efforts of some, such as Henry Clay, to work out a compromise. The push to expand the U.S. borders westward did not allow the issue to rest. While the generation being groomed to be the hero-soldiers was still in its childhood, the matter came to a head. When Abraham Lincoln was elected president by a narrow margin, both sides knew that the days of compromise were over. The crisis came early, too soon for the would-be heros who were so traumatized by the brutal war in their youth that they never filled the hero's shoes. No hero generation emerged from the Civil War, the only cycle in America's history when this aberration occurred. The generation just senior to the would-be heros (called the Gilded) had not been groomed to be either civic minded or order-takers. They were adventurous and plowed headlong into the war, but were decimated by its end. The above mentioned generations were, of course, not the only casualties of the Civil War. The south was devastated and racial relations horrific. Strauss and Howe speculate, What would have happened if tempers had cooled for a few years, postponing the Crisis for another presidential election and slowing it down thereafter? . . . [T]he generational dynamics . . . would have been somewhat different. . . . The apocalyptic passions of the Transcendentals [Lincoln's generation] would have cooled a bit as they aged. And the Gilded [Grant's generation] would have been quicker to see war as danger rather than adventure. (page 262) We learn from the Civil War that the crisis leading into the Fourth Turning can come too early with devastating results. Strauss and Howe suggest ways we can avoid repeating this mistake. We should prepare for the coming crisis both individually as citizens and collectively as a nation. First, individuals should be prepared to make personal sacrifices: Strengthen virtues such as honor and integrity; become a team player; build relationships, especially within the family; prepare for limited resources in the future by establishing financial security and good health habits; and diversify everything from languages, to savings accounts, to career paths. Similar measures need to be taken on a national level. (See pp. 313-321.) Arguably, the first sparks of the coming crisis began to fly on Sept. 11, 2001. Care must be taken that these sparks do not ignite into flame too soon. Time will allow the civic-minded "Hero" generation to mature. The generation just senior to them showed its grit on 9/11 as firefighters sacrificed themselves and travelers responded to Jeffrey Beamer's rallying cry, "Let's roll!" However, we learn from the Civil War that it takes more than grit to achieve an optimal outcome to a major crisis. Perhaps even more important than the hero "order-takers" coming of age is the need for leaders, or "order givers" to gain greater wisdom. Here again, time is our ally. Life experiences teach wisdom as individuals learn from past mistakes and successes. How do we bide time when the stage is set for conflict? Strauss and Howe answer: "A society is best served by a quaternity of temperaments, kept in proper balance" (page 328). Each generation must play to its strengths while tempering the weaknesses of its neighboring generations. Checking and balancing each other will help minimize anger and apathy, thus preventing undue harm. Time and perspective will ripen each generation to maturity. Much of that needed perspective can be gained by learning from the cycles of history.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Beth A.

    A slow read, but interesting and thought provoking. It’s an attempt to predict the future in a fairly general way based on patterns in history and repeating generational traits. It’s an intriguing idea that as a generation our personalities may be formed- by the parenting and actions of our elders- in such a way that our traits can be traced back and predicted forward in rotating patterns that cause historical and current events to adhere to similar patterns. This theory seemed to make sense to A slow read, but interesting and thought provoking. It’s an attempt to predict the future in a fairly general way based on patterns in history and repeating generational traits. It’s an intriguing idea that as a generation our personalities may be formed- by the parenting and actions of our elders- in such a way that our traits can be traced back and predicted forward in rotating patterns that cause historical and current events to adhere to similar patterns. This theory seemed to make sense to me and made me think about the times we live in and what to expect next. If you’re still interested after reading the above paragraph, go ahead and click (view spoiler)[ The personality traits Strauss and Howe describe include Nomad, Hero, Artist, and Prophet. Each generation type reacts to similar events differently and acts differently at different stages of life. These different reactions change events and attitudes creating “Turnings” or seasons that last about as long as a generation, until there is another major shift in attitudes and events. Published in 1997, Strauss and Howe believed that we would soon enter the season of winter, “The Fourth Turning.” This is a time of crisis, where the organizational structure that worked for us for the last 80-100 years (saeculum) no longer works and we need to restructure, to make major “ institutional” changes to re-establish order. Then if we successfully navigate the crisis to some sort of resolution we will enter a season of economic growth and recovery, the spring or “First Turning.” I really didn’t know what to think as I finished this book. My two big concerns about Strauss and Howe’s theory were that I didn’t see a rising generation of Heroes, (They should be entering the workforce at this point.) and that I haven’t seen the major changes and “restructuring” I would expect. I did some googling- actually looking for support that Gen Y is significantly different than the GI generation. I found that it is perceived to have some of the traits I imagine for a hero generation. These include being ambitious; team oriented; confident; seeking feedback, guidance, and affirmation; being egalitarian and socially conscious (Green Movement). I realized that they don’t have to be exactly like the GI generation to qualify as Heroes, and if Strauss and Howe are correct, they have some major event coming soon that will help define them as a generation. I’ve decided that it’s important to remember that although generational traits may follow patterns, other influences (like the internet) may vary their characteristics, and the pattern may be followed loosely rather than exactly. I also found this webpage/article http://www.theburningplatform.com/?p=... and it influenced my thinking. This article pointed out that we seem to be stuck in the beginning phase of “Winter,” experiencing a ”lull,” drawn out difficulties without things coming completely to a head yet. And I do see people increasingly frustrated with current policies. The idea that we are in for continued struggles economically rings true to me, and that it probably will come to a head at some point, although I am dreading the possibility that we could have a war, as every previous American generation has had at this point in the saeculum. It would be interesting to read this book again in ten or fifteen years to see if there is any validity to these theories. I also read this interesting interview done May 11, 2011 with Neal Howe. http://mcalvanyweeklycommentary.com/m... (hide spoiler)] for even more of my confused ramblings.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jayne

    Back in 2008, I read The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe. I just came across a review (more like a synopsis) that I had put on LiveJournal at the time, so I figured I might as well post it here: First, let the record show that "Everybody Knows" was originally written and recorded by Leonard Cohen, and to attribute the lyrics to Concrete Blonde demonstrates some willful fucking ignorance. Second, did you know that Generation X was "the most-aborted generation in U.S. history"? I don' Back in 2008, I read The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe. I just came across a review (more like a synopsis) that I had put on LiveJournal at the time, so I figured I might as well post it here: First, let the record show that "Everybody Knows" was originally written and recorded by Leonard Cohen, and to attribute the lyrics to Concrete Blonde demonstrates some willful fucking ignorance. Second, did you know that Generation X was "the most-aborted generation in U.S. history"? I don't know about you, but I kind of thought that was hilarious. This book is pretty amazing. It explains history in generational cycles; e.g., Gen X is an alienated, amoral "Nomad" generation. The other generations are the Heroes (the Millennials), the Artists (the Silent Generation of the Jazz Age), and the Prophets (presumptuous Baby Boomers). The cycle runs uninterrupted through Anglo-American history (with the exception of the American Civil War which fucked things up good). The turnings of history that accompany the rise and fall of generations are the High (when Prophets are born; think post-war prosperity), the Awakening (when Nomads are born; reformation and revolution), the Unraveling (when Heroes are born; things fall apart), and the Crisis (when Artists are born; times of great war). The bad news is that we're transitioning from an Unraveling to a Crisis. The good news is that after that, Things Are Looking Up. (Oh, look, it's the Ten of Swords again.) In short, this is an interesting book that you should read in order to prepare your ass for the rest of your life.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Charles Haywood

    I am almost ashamed to review this book. It is like reviewing "Fifty Shades of Grey"—the mere fact the someone publicly admits he has read it degrades both him and his listeners. My only defense is that Steve Bannon has repeatedly stated this book is a major influence on his thought. He’s a clever man. So I sought wisdom by following his lead, but instead, I got a rotten egg. While I still have a great deal of respect for Bannon, having read this book, the Respect-O-Meter has dropped by roughly I am almost ashamed to review this book. It is like reviewing "Fifty Shades of Grey"—the mere fact the someone publicly admits he has read it degrades both him and his listeners. My only defense is that Steve Bannon has repeatedly stated this book is a major influence on his thought. He’s a clever man. So I sought wisdom by following his lead, but instead, I got a rotten egg. While I still have a great deal of respect for Bannon, having read this book, the Respect-O-Meter has dropped by roughly 60%. He may gain the respect back, for example by correctly predicting the results of, and the impact of, this coming May’s elections to the European Parliament. But it will be a task, after subjecting me to "The Fourth Turning." This will not be a long review; that merely prolongs the agony. I write only to sketch out the major areas of failure, to make clear your need to avoid losing time you will never see again. At its core this book requires a total detachment of the reader from reality. The American singer Cat Stevens (bear with me) is known nowadays for having adopted Salafi Islam and being a rabid Jew-hater. But before he converted, he was big into numerology, as I remember from watching, some years ago, a VH1 “Behind the Music” special on his life. In that phase of his life, at least, Stevens would have been very comfortable with "The Fourth Turning," because the entire book is prophecy based on numerology. All that’s missing is a good dose of astrology. In a nutshell, what William Strauss and Neil Howe claim is that all human affairs are, always have been, and always will be, governed by a time period, the saeculum, which approximates the length of a “long human life,” or roughly eighty years. Each saeculum has four generations, each of which has universal and certain characteristics, which succeed each other like the tick-tock of a clock. I am not going to tell you anything about them, their names or anything else, though, because they are stupid. Each saeculum also has a succession of events, from Awakening to Crisis, in a repeating pattern. After the climax of a Crisis, the society reboots itself and is reborn; this is the “Fourth Turning.” Strauss and Howe predicted, in 1997, such a Crisis beginning around 2005, with the rebirth to be complete by around 2025. Before we get to the predictions, let’s cover the core structure. The reader quickly realizes that all this is a charlatan’s game, when he reads how narrowly the authors constrain their historical examination. Despite muttering about the Romans and the ancient Hindus, they identify only six saecula, beginning at the end of the Wars of the Roses, through 1997. This is the “Anglo-American Saeculum.” No attempt whatsoever is made to extend their analysis beyond England, until the Glorious Revolution, after which no mention at all is made of England, and the focus shifts solely to America. No Europe. No Asia. No Africa. Nothing at all. You’d think at least some attempt would be made to extend this supposedly universal framework beyond a very stripped-down history of America, but you would be wrong. Even worse, the stated reason for beginning the examination of cycles around 1500 A.D. is not, as one might expect, lack of data. As becomes clear later, only the most trivial and superficial data is necessary for the authors to claim support for their theory. No, it’s because until the Reformation, don’t you know, Europeans could not comprehend linear time, except for maybe a few priests. Everyone lived in the eternal, cyclical now. The ignorance of this is astounding, and moreover it’s not clear why supposedly immutable and invariable generational cycles would be obviated by the common people’s perception of time, but nonetheless, it is the authors’ excuse for narrowing their time window to a convenient one—namely, one where throwing out a few names from the relevant time period makes it seem like the authors know what they are talking about, because of the vague familiarity most people have with at least some of the names. Much ink is spilled in pseudo-academic and pseudo-scientific jargon. Many tables and charts are offered, complete with arrows to guide the confused reader through pop history along the desired garden path. The writing is terrible—rambling, repetitive, and reeking of selective fact choice. Even ignoring the tightly constrained focus, the exposition of the supposed saecula is risible. It consists of shouting out references to well-known figures, such as Abraham Lincoln, or cultural happenings, such as the Great Depression or rock-and-roll; giving a short and utterly flat (and often false) description of the figure or happening; and then making an enormous leap to conclude that figure or happening proves something, by itself, about a twenty- or forty-year period in history, which just so happens to coincide exactly with the authors’ thesis. It is a total waste of time; you would be better informed about world history by reading "Goodnight Moon." Every substantive prediction in this book has been falsified. No, there has not been another religious “Great Awakening” in America. The 1990s are not remembered as a time of misery. Old people today are not inspired to refuse government handouts and young people have not stood up to deny them handouts. The Baby Boomers in their retirement have not created new forms of civic life. Nor have they created an “elder ethos that will hinge on self-denial.” I laughed out loud when I read that, before I read that “On the job, Millennials will be seekers of order and harmony. They will delight employers with their skills, work habits, and institutional loyalties.” I nearly ruptured myself laughing after that one. Even a blind squirrel is supposed to find a few nuts, but surveying the predictions in this book, that adage has been disproven. The Crisis, ending a saeculum, that the authors predict isn’t some minor tumult, but, by the examples they give, something along the lines of complete political breakdown, major war, or a widespread pandemic leading to social near-collapse. Society will stabilize; then, after a few years, society will change dramatically, creating a new Awakening, and beginning the cycle again. Some people, doubtless Bannon among them, seem to think that because Strauss and Howe predicted a Crisis beginning around 2005, that they are therefore great prognosticators. No doubt Bannon would like a Crisis to help move his program forward; I have a lot of sympathy for that view. But it takes no skill to claim that any advanced society will, at least every few decades, pass through something that can justly be cast as a crisis, yet is still modest, and the 2007 financial crisis fits into that mold. It was not an existential Crisis in the sense the authors predicted. Nor does it take much skill to predict that America, which has been in decay for decades, will someday face an existential Crisis. It hasn’t arrived yet, though, and time is up on Strauss’s and Howe’s predictions. Oh, it’ll come, because history will return. But this book does not tell us anything about it. Certainly, if there is a such an extreme Crisis, the path of initial stabilization followed by a reworking of society is more or less the typical one. Where the authors go wrong is in thinking there is any more pattern to history than that. That in retrospect some groups of people born roughly at the same time may evince, when viewed from certain angles, a set of common characteristics, does not create some kind of magic predictability machine. There is no wisdom here.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jon Stout

    Two factors drew me to this book. First was much discussion among my friends, including at my church, of how to work with and appeal to Millennials. Second was the news item that Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s theoretician, was much influenced by Strauss and Howe’s work. Taken together, these two incentives were too much to pass up. I was happy to launch into an interesting discussion of American generations, as they have defined themselves over my lifetime. Strauss and Howe’s thesis is that Americ Two factors drew me to this book. First was much discussion among my friends, including at my church, of how to work with and appeal to Millennials. Second was the news item that Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s theoretician, was much influenced by Strauss and Howe’s work. Taken together, these two incentives were too much to pass up. I was happy to launch into an interesting discussion of American generations, as they have defined themselves over my lifetime. Strauss and Howe’s thesis is that American history has taken place repeating a cycle, or saeculum, of approximately eighty years. Each saeculum consists of four generational segments representing a High, an Awakenng, an Unraveling, and a Crisis. The concluding Crises in American history have been the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Depression/World War II. We are about due for another Crisis. The generations of the current saeculum (after the G.I.’s of the last Crisis) are the Silent who came of age in the post-war years, the Boomers who grew up in the counterculture sixties, the Gen-Xers of the Reagan years, and the Millennials of the new millennium. This structure presents a complicated matrix in three dimensions. There is a progression in historical time. There is a progression in life stages (childhood, young adulthood, midlife, and elderhood). As each generation transits historical time and its own life stages, there are four generations active, so we follow a drama of interacting generations, in which the actors come onstage, play different roles, and then exit. This can be confusing, but comes into focus when we consider a generation about which we care, such our own (in my case the Boomer) or that of our children. I visualize it as four superimposed sine waves, each out of synch with the previous by a quarter cycle, so that at any point in time there is a rising, a high, a declining, and a low. One could also visualize this as the seasons of the year, with summer, fall, winter, spring all overlapping each other, as expressed in different generations. So much for the set-up; now for the conclusions. I can see how Steve Bannon thinks that the current divisions in our country are building to a Crisis similar to our major wars. I also get that he thinks that economic or ethnic nationalism might be the way to resolve the Crisis. But most reviewers, myself included, hold that Strauss and Howe cannot be held responsible for Steve Bannon’s ideas. As for working with Millennials, the younger generation in my family fall on the cusp between Gen-Xers and Millennials. Gen-Xers are described as being disregarded, unappreciated, and self-reliant. Apart from being “latch-key” children with two working parents, my offspring doesn’t seem disregarded or unappreciated. Millennials are anti-institutional, public-spirited and like to work in teams. My offspring has some of that, and will, I think, end up leading and managing Millennials. No pressure, but they are the future. As for myself, Strauss and Howe call on the Boomers to be the “Gray Champions,” offering moral support and wisdom in the coming Crisis, while giving up some of our perquisites (government benefits) for the greater good. We are called not to be so self-centered as we are accustomed to be. I can live with that, and am looking forward to being a Gray Champion, in the style of Bernie Sanders.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Vagabond of Letters, DLitt

    This and 'Generations' predicted the meteoric rise of SJW culture (a spiritual awakening, and SJWism is nothing but secular Neopuritanism [Mitchell 2020, Yarvin 2007*]) as the direct result of a catastrophe - likely financial. The dates given were 2005-20 for the catastrophe and 2015-30 for the awakening. Pretty fucking spot on for books written 10-30 years before the events predicted when most 10 year predictions fail (Silver 2012). The Strauss-Howe cycle is 80 years which comprises two Kondrati This and 'Generations' predicted the meteoric rise of SJW culture (a spiritual awakening, and SJWism is nothing but secular Neopuritanism [Mitchell 2020, Yarvin 2007*]) as the direct result of a catastrophe - likely financial. The dates given were 2005-20 for the catastrophe and 2015-30 for the awakening. Pretty fucking spot on for books written 10-30 years before the events predicted when most 10 year predictions fail (Silver 2012). The Strauss-Howe cycle is 80 years which comprises two Kondratieff waves (Kondratieff 1935) and 4 Kuznets swings. Four K-waves or two 4-generation cycles comprise a 'Great Wave' (Hackett Fischer 1999).** The Strauss-Howe thesis is falsifiable given a prediction failure rate of over, I'd say, 25%. Strauss-Howe theory and K-waves are some of those spooky sociological action at a distance things like statistical analysis of the stock market. Like how in 2007 a civilizational crisis was almost laughable, but not as laughable as the idea of a spiritual awakening in the near-term when 'indifferentism' and 'relativism' and 'lack of values' - not religiously-held radical values and witch hunts redivivus - were the bogeyman of the day. Not that I really believe it - but I've obviously thought enough about it to entertain the idea. Only in the past year or two has the concept of radical postmaterial leftism as religion entered the fringes of mainstream discourse (Mitchell 2020; Murray 2019; cf Campbell and Manning 2018). As to K-waves, Nefiodov predicted a societal shift towards obsession with physical and 'psychosocial' health (i.e., the pathologization of deviant opinions and 'Triumph of the Therapeutic' all in one) with a peak in 2020 back in 2003. I think Strauss and Howe are really on to something and link it to a sort of 'r/K seesaw' (Rushton 1994) with epicycles mediated by epigenetics (Penman 2015) during cycles of much larger life history adaptations (Woodley, Peñaherrera-Aguirre, et al. 2018), as well as elucidating the effects of the residuum of behavior environmentally determined instead of narrowly heritable (Sarraf, Feltham, et al. 2020). Other works lend credence to this hypothesis though it's never been tested and not sure it's testable. Like classical Marxian theorists, we're still in search of the 'iron laws of history', and Marxists were the first to attempt it in nontheological terms. I'm not sure how K-waves, Great Waves, or Kuznets swings fit in, but several different theories - including Elliott's original grand supercycle (Elliott 1938) now most famous for badly predicting stock prices - operated on either 40, 80, or 160/ year cycles. Strauss and Howe give a possible reason why. *Pseudonym 'Mencius Moldbug', essays 'How Dawkins Got Pwned' and 'M.41 and M.42'. See also Land in Laliberte (ed.) 2014, 'Dark Enlightenment'. **At the end of each of the four previous Great Waves, 'Each revolution is marked by continuing inflation, a widening gap between rich and poor, increasing instability, and finally a crisis at the crest of the wave that is characterized by demographic contraction, social and political upheaval, and economic collapse. The most violent of these climaxes was the catastrophic fourteenth century, in which war, famine, and the Black Death devastated the continent--the only time in Europe's history that the population actually declined.' (Hackett Fischer 1999, introduction).

  16. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    This is the best book I have read all year, in terms of how much it has changed my worldview. My wife has noticed that I am now seeing just about everything through the lens of generational cohorts, and in terms of the "fourth turning" we are now in as a society. The book was written by some liberal baby-boomers, but the basic premise (that we are heading toward a crisis) seems to fit with similar predictions from folks on the political right as well (such as Glenn Beck, who predicts global econ This is the best book I have read all year, in terms of how much it has changed my worldview. My wife has noticed that I am now seeing just about everything through the lens of generational cohorts, and in terms of the "fourth turning" we are now in as a society. The book was written by some liberal baby-boomers, but the basic premise (that we are heading toward a crisis) seems to fit with similar predictions from folks on the political right as well (such as Glenn Beck, who predicts global economic collapse and skyrocketing food prices in the near future). The authors' predictions are based on the past 500 years of Anglo-American history; they outline a recurring 80-100 year cycle of High, Awakening, Unraveling, Crisis that they chart in detail. I'm especially impressed with the predictions that they've gleaned from the last 6 Crises our society has been through, including: when the crisis will peak, what the mood of the nation will be at the time, and what the reaction will be to it by our children, ourselves, and our parents' generations. Anyone interested in writing a book about the near future (i.e., what the nation will be like 20 years from now) would do well to take a look at the authors' research (unless you like getting things terribly wrong). One observation they make that is, I think, especially keen, is that as we approach a new turning in this cycle (such as from an Unraveling phase to a Crisis phase as we are now), most pundits and analysts who try to predict the mood and issues of our society get it wrong: they expect more of the same, and are usually surprised when the next phase of the cycle is drastically different from the current one. Since we are now at the boundary between an Unraveling and a Crisis, many wrongly predict that we'll have more societal splintering, more culture wars, more alienation between disparate groups with seemingly irreconcilable goals, more latch-key kids, more crime, higher divorce rates, more class division, more risky behaviors among the youth, etc. If you don't know what the last major Crisis period (1929-1945) was like, you'll be very surprised when the nation pulls together to face its next major challenge. Also look to the American Civil War, the Revolutionary War, the Glorious Revolution, the Spanish Armada Crisis, and the War of the Roses (the other Crisis periods they track) to understand how society will become more civic-focused and less apt to tolerate individualism, risk-taking, and dissent. A fascinating read for anyone who is interested in our next 80 years--at least what the past would predict they'll be like. They admit that they could be wrong, but also point out that the cycle hasn't failed to produce a Crisis at this point for the last 6 cycles, and that they come with surprising regularity. This book will help you prepare for the future, understand the present, and give you a framework for putting the past together, as no history book ever could.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kylie Crawford

    The theory explored in this book is interesting and seems obvious when you think about it. History is made up of generations, and kids grow up in reaction to their parents and society’s leaders. Wouldn’t that lend itself to a cycle? Why is there a catastrophic event every hundred years or so that seems to remake society from its core? Could it have something to do with the generation, the pattern of who is in charge, who is a young adult, and the willingness of that generation to take action? In The theory explored in this book is interesting and seems obvious when you think about it. History is made up of generations, and kids grow up in reaction to their parents and society’s leaders. Wouldn’t that lend itself to a cycle? Why is there a catastrophic event every hundred years or so that seems to remake society from its core? Could it have something to do with the generation, the pattern of who is in charge, who is a young adult, and the willingness of that generation to take action? In WW1, America waited two years after being bombed to join. In WW2, they declared war the next day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Go back 100-80 years and you get the civil war, again and you find the revolutionary war. The authors of this book sensed the patterns of the people, generations who were dealing with catastrophe throughout history, and explored them when they noticed underlying similarities. We have a cycle of Prophet, Nomad, Hero, Artist. And guess what? Society is at its fourth turning. That simply means that this book said some explosion (starting in 2005-25) would occur, spurred on by a lot of small pockets of discontent and unrest (I swear, some of their examples made me frown and re-examine the publication date). Some issues that other generations would have brushed off, or lived through stoically will spark a wildfire that will cause America’s citizens to tear our society at its seams. The generation will be aching for a change. We’ve come out of all our fourth turnings better so far, WW2, the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, let’s hope we can pull together for this one. With civic and personal responsibility, trust, and luck, hopefully we will. What was disappointing was how “eh” this book was as an actually read. I laughed through some chapters but found myself zoning out and really needing to push through the beginning. And while the authors got the dates right it’s not hard to see how generalizing actions of groups of millions of people is hard to pin down. Has our world been receptive to Millennials? When they hit job markets during the Great Recession, did people bend over trying to make sure they didn’t fail? Hard to say. But the pinning down of the years of our struggle (2020, resolving in 2026) was uncanny. Forewarned is forearmed, but who believed that we would experience the cocktail of issues we have now? I bet people thought the Great Recession was “it” and were surprised that society didn’t really shake and change like they expected. Throw in a virus and civil unrest, and maybe some big shift will take place. We can only hope it’s for the better, and we can try our best to ensure a good outcome by remaining informed and responsible citizens, adapting to swinging changes that might emerge.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nick Martin

    If the joy that a book brings (see also: life itself) is less about the what that happens and more about the experience of passing time in a particular way — guided by authors, invited to align our thinking as tourist-readers for a while with theirs as guides . . . There is much that is speculative here. And conveniently grouped. And over-generalized. A skeptical reader will find opportunities abundant to jump off this train. I, however, treated it as meditation, and enjoyed the hell out of the r If the joy that a book brings (see also: life itself) is less about the what that happens and more about the experience of passing time in a particular way — guided by authors, invited to align our thinking as tourist-readers for a while with theirs as guides . . . There is much that is speculative here. And conveniently grouped. And over-generalized. A skeptical reader will find opportunities abundant to jump off this train. I, however, treated it as meditation, and enjoyed the hell out of the ride. The notion that the human lifespan (+\- 80 years) has not greatly changed over time, that it can be divided into seasons, that the generations embody archetypes (prophet, nomad, hero, artist) based on their age and relationship to major events, that the interplay between the archetypes creates the atmosphere which in fact matters more than the great events themselves — I found this thing just so damn interesting to ruminate on! That it was published in ‘97 adds a poignancy to the prophecy element here, as the eponymous “4th turning” of history was very obviously ushered in on a Tuesday morning four years later, about four years before Strauss and Howe had predicted. They predicted that the ensuing era of crisis would involve bitter generational disputes, the repeated failures and subsequent rethinking of institutions, and, if survived, would lead to a reimagined social order. Maybe it’s time we let the old ways die. They predicted this era to last till about 2026. Read during this era of political tumult, I found The Fourth Turning to be weirdly reassuring. Like, we’ve been here before, there’s a hidden kind-of-almost-uncanny logic to our worldwide sense of unrest. The times they are a-changing. Enjoy the ride.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shad

    I know you really liked this one, which is why I was a little concerned about posting my rating. First, I think I'm a stingier rater overall. Basically, I think of the Book of Mormon as my 5, so it is pretty hard for other books to stack up. Second, while there were several things I appreciated about the book, I disagreed with much of the "methodology" and reasoning. I did appreciate the effort to take a broader view of history, and I do think that cycles play roles in history and in our lives t I know you really liked this one, which is why I was a little concerned about posting my rating. First, I think I'm a stingier rater overall. Basically, I think of the Book of Mormon as my 5, so it is pretty hard for other books to stack up. Second, while there were several things I appreciated about the book, I disagreed with much of the "methodology" and reasoning. I did appreciate the effort to take a broader view of history, and I do think that cycles play roles in history and in our lives today. However, I believe the fundamental failing of the book is the inability to appreciate the role of progress in society. In fact, I thought it was somewhat ironic that you sent me The Birth of Plenty at the same time as this book. The two are based on fundamentally opposed views of history. The Birth of Plenty fully appreciates progress and exemplifies the type of book The Fourth Turning criticizes so vehemently. As with many polarized debates, I believe the answer lies somewhere in between. I do think society cycles through history, but I believe it is predominantly in an upward direction. I feel the authors came up with an idea they liked that fit some of the data and then forced it onto history rather than having observed history and then expounded on the patterns they found. They continually discuss how certain generations were "the most" this or that but didn't seem to appreciate that indicates a linear progression (either upward or downward). I found their attempt to explain how their 80-100 year cycle went so drastically wrong for the saeculum prior to and following the Civil War. What seems more likely is that they simply couldn't deny that the Civil War was indicative of a 4th Turning (though they were able to claim WWI was not). I did think it was an interesting review of cultural history, but I don't know enough about that to assess its accuracy. It did seem, though, that they glossed over serious differences within generations, and I think they overgeneralize. I don't think there is a set line in the sand between one generation and the next. I believe it is more of a spectrum and that, to the extent it is possible to identify behavioral patterns and attitudes within generations, they would ary from one end of the generation to the other. Ironically, given my job, I thought they overplayed the importance of war, falling into a common trap in the field of history in which people focus on the best known or most-written about events of the era rather than everything that was going on at the time. For example, in the future, our day may be best known for OIF and OEF, but I don't think most Americans (including myself) would consider those to be the most important things going on right now. I did appreciate the opportunity to think and see things from a different perspective. I believe cycles are a part of history. Finally, they cite with approval Nietzsche (most famous for his quote "God is dead"), so I have an issue with that, too. PS - My favorite Nietzsche joke was supposedly seen grafittied somewhere and read: God is dead. -Nietzsche Nietzsche is dead. -God

  20. 4 out of 5

    Avery

    A book for Gen Xers about the 2018-2022 crisis, written back in 1997. Saddest thing about this book is that it gave people 10 years to prepare their communities but nothing got done on that level. Extremely overwritten, but then you get to the good bits: After Y2K fails to bring societal transformation, “More people will start rooting for something big to happen, something bad enough to shock the society out of its civic ennui" “Where G.I.s “ac-cent-tchu-ated the positive,” Boomers are constantly A book for Gen Xers about the 2018-2022 crisis, written back in 1997. Saddest thing about this book is that it gave people 10 years to prepare their communities but nothing got done on that level. Extremely overwritten, but then you get to the good bits: After Y2K fails to bring societal transformation, “More people will start rooting for something big to happen, something bad enough to shock the society out of its civic ennui" “Where G.I.s “ac-cent-tchu-ated the positive,” Boomers are constantly “going negative.” Defending against their attack ads has been shown to be futile; politicians who stay positive only get torn up worse” “In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party”

  21. 5 out of 5

    Linette

    I actually finished! I thought I was never going to get to the end of this book. Whilst I enjoyed the premise and I can see the archetypes I felt like Strauss and Howe belaboured the point. They made their point and then they made the same point again, and then they made the point in a different way and then they found another way to make their point. I get it OKay!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Johanna Dolan

    I am IN LOVE with this book!! It explains my Gen X angst. It explains what is happening right now in the USA. And it offers HOPE for what is coming next! Fantastic book - you HAVE to read it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    John Chamberlain

    Feeling annoyed, might delete later ;) Our book, "The Fourth Turning" demonstrates history happens in cycles and all that has happened before will happen again. "Ah, ok. I'm sympathetic to that. There's definitely some patterns to history." Based on the emphasis and events of each generation parents will change the focus that they give children and subsequent generations will demonstrate certain behaviors. "Cool, I've thought about that myself. Really overprotective/thrifty/spiritual parents that ha Feeling annoyed, might delete later ;) Our book, "The Fourth Turning" demonstrates history happens in cycles and all that has happened before will happen again. "Ah, ok. I'm sympathetic to that. There's definitely some patterns to history." Based on the emphasis and events of each generation parents will change the focus that they give children and subsequent generations will demonstrate certain behaviors. "Cool, I've thought about that myself. Really overprotective/thrifty/spiritual parents that have rebellious kids because the conditions that cause those traits no longer exist and then those kids under emphasize those qualities which leads their kids in turn to overemphasize. Makes sense." AND because of this we can predict... THE FUTURE! "wut" HISTORY IS CYCLICAL! We PROVE it! "Ah goll dammit." This dear reader, is my issue. The very idea that history MUST do something is absurd. Seems like the fevered dreams of grad students trying to reason their choice of master or the obsessive professor sitting at dinner like that dude in "Close Encounters" staring into his potatoes that THIS. MUST. MEAN. SOMETHING! Whether it's Hegel, Marx, Fukuyama, or these guys I've always been perplexed by a "theory of history." History is just the study of the record that we have available and anything before the modern period is shockingly under recorded and anything after the telegram seems to be over recorded. To think you can piece out any scientific pattern or linear progression to me is absurd. History can give you an idea of what came before, what ideas were kicked around, what worked, what didn't, and even what worked until it didn't. History is the great experiment in humanity. It puts people into almost every hypothetical scenario you can imagine and you can see how people react or at least how they were thought to have reacted. But most importantly history can tell you where you are right now, it seems like that might be worth something on its own. Now for the particulars of this book. It is to history what Jung was to psychology. Even going so far as to use Jungian archetypes to explain each generation with fancy names like Prophet, Nomad, Hero, and Artist each generation is supposed to be a type and generally show the same attitudes. Which - fine, like Jung, this can be handy to construct a narrative, to shorthand very difficult ideas, but it's quite another thing to argue this has "scientific" weight behind it. But by golly the authors are gonna use the last 600 years of Anglo-American history to try! Which right there is a problem. Your overarching narrative to history is focused on two very unique places. A curious thing that one might note is that Britain is an island, and while she was never completely protected from the continent she definitely had a more comfortable position watching things come and go. The ability to choose not just your battles but your wars is something unique in Europe, a country like Serbia didn’t always get that chance. Then there is America, which is even further removed so in both cases these cultures got to exist in relative isolation or at least not acted on too hard by outside forces. It seems to me if your country is getting occupied, liberated, and reoccupied that would screw with your cycle quite a bit, no? Maybe not, I don't know, the authors never gave me the perspective of Poland. Though they do imply the cycle is in fact universal! They even list randos from the continent that fit the generational archetype, like Da Vinci, and Martin Luther, and Catherine the Great! But don’t worry gang, the good ol USA controls time for the WHOLE WORLD! There's this uncomfortable bit where the author’s admit the Civil War Saeculum went too early or something and just flat out stopped the cycle. There would be no Hero generation and it would jump straight to Artist! So jarring was our bloody (and isolated) conflict that Sigmund Freud (Austrian) and Vladimir Lenin (Russian) would have no problem being born into the correct generational archetype from miles and cultures away. Very kind of them, quite the tip of the hat if you think about it. I could go off on how one stops a generation because the event didn't fall correctly but honestly I've got bigger fish to fry. Let's talk about the money shot and title of the book. The Fourth Turning. Written in 1997 it's not without a knowing glance that I look at these authors and think, "oh you were trying to get some of that Y2K millennial panic money weren't you?" Do y'all remember that? People freaking out about Y2K? My mom bought so many canned vegetables that that we were still eating cream corn reserves five years later. What a time to be alive. Anywho: So when the authors say Fourth Turning what they mean is crisis. And when they wrote it in 1997 they could say the crisis was coming soon based on their little model. They literally even use the phrase “winter is coming” which I don’t know if they were GOT fans before it was cool or if people were just really hung up on Winter in the mid to late 90’s but it’s in there more than once. So let's look at all the crises in the past that they list: The Great Depression and WWII The Civil War The American Revolution The Glorious Revolution The Armada Crisis The Wars of the Roses That's a pretty good list right there. All of those are pretty big crises no doubts about it. Though the eagle eyed among you will notice a few big things that happened which did not make the list. How about the 30 Years War?. Which killed 8 MILLION people in the early to mid 1600's. That's 20th century numbers right there and that was done with swords, pikes, muskets, and disease. They didn't have belt fed machine guns or mustard gas to help things along so that is a serious effort by the people of Europe. And yet that happened in the First and Second Turning which is a High and Awakening respectively. Hey yo! How about that Napoleon fellow? Dude bragged he could lose 20,000 men a month as a matter of course. Total losses between 3-6.5 million. Pretty respectable numbers and this happened also in a high. And let’s not forget, my own personal favorite, the war to end em all, the Great One, World. War. ONE! It was a CALAMITY. The world had never seen anything like it. It would last for four years burning away a whole generation of men in a senseless waste. But somehow, this is just an “Unraveling” because there was no clear resolution. And the authors are absolutely right World War II was somehow worse in every facet and was in fact resolved. If you don’t mind the whole open ended question that would be the Cold War for the next fifty-ish years. But honestly, if your model can pass over three of the largest conflicts in the 600 year period that you’re looking at, what’s the good of the model? And what would have happened if JFK decided to launch during the Cuban Missile Crisis? Wouldn’t have been much a High I suspect and pretty sure an even worse Awakening. Was it the cycle that prevented it? Did the cycle rig the Chicago elections keeping Nixon out of the White House? At what point does this become farce? And the book didn’t need to be this ridiculous. It didn’t need to get all down my throat with THIS IS A PERFECT MODEL. It could have looked at all this and been like “Hey man, here’s some fun comparisons between these similar periods.” and I would have eaten it up. Would have been fantastic reading. So I still give this thing 2 Stars because it’s a fun idea and something worth pondering over but nothing to be taken so seriously as it takes itself.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Meagan

    I discovered this book because the theory presented in it was mentioned in passing in an article that I read shortly after the recent election. The book is just about 20 years old at this point, but it feels extremely relevant to the current moment in history. It also feels surprisingly personal to me, speaking to ideas and yearnings I thought were just my own, but may in fact be generational in a way I have not recognized before. As I've read it, I've found that I can't stop thinking about it an I discovered this book because the theory presented in it was mentioned in passing in an article that I read shortly after the recent election. The book is just about 20 years old at this point, but it feels extremely relevant to the current moment in history. It also feels surprisingly personal to me, speaking to ideas and yearnings I thought were just my own, but may in fact be generational in a way I have not recognized before. As I've read it, I've found that I can't stop thinking about it and talking about it to everyone. The authors present a theory of cultural progress and historical events driven by a set of four generational types that that recur in a predictable sequence. Because the repeating cycle is so long, it is not something that a person can really witness in his or her own lifetime. Even a person who lives to be 100 might see each of the four "seasons" only once and not see any of them repeat. Seeing the repetition requires studying history. According to the authors' theory, we stand now on the precipice of a "Fourth Turning." Fourth Turnings are preceded by times of splintering, division, gridlock, "culture wars" over values that seem irreconcilable, and tribalism wherein people stop identifying with the large group (the whole nation), and identify mainly as members of small groups who share their own outlook. Sound familiar? Fourth Turning crises that have occurred previously in American history include The American Revolution, The Civil War, and The Great Depression/World War II. Fourth Turnings are gateways in history. After we pass through them, things are radically different than in the past, and afterwards time is marked by "before the event" and "after the event." I can't really comment on the quality of the scholarship in this book too much. While I know the broad strokes, I don't know enough detail about American and European history to verify all the bits and pieces. Also, being "social science," I know there is more fuzziness here than provable science. But the fact is, the book presented me with a whole new way of looking at what might be going on in history and culture. Whether you fully buy into it or not, I think a whole new way of thinking is a reading experience worth having. I would love to discuss this with a history scholar or really....anyone. Everyone I know should read this book and then discuss it with me!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Olshansky

    I listened to the audiobook and would rate the book a 3.5 / 5 (rounded down rather than up). The primary reason I enjoyed this book is due to the unique historical viewpoint it delivers which I've never heard before. It was a good long-term history lesson that concentrated on the last century, which is both the one I'm most interested in and the one I can relate to the most. I'm extremely impressed by how William Strauss was able to predict the financial crisis. However, it's also worth mentioning I listened to the audiobook and would rate the book a 3.5 / 5 (rounded down rather than up). The primary reason I enjoyed this book is due to the unique historical viewpoint it delivers which I've never heard before. It was a good long-term history lesson that concentrated on the last century, which is both the one I'm most interested in and the one I can relate to the most. I'm extremely impressed by how William Strauss was able to predict the financial crisis. However, it's also worth mentioning that he made many other predictions that I simply overlooked. I found myself clinging to and appreciating the predictions that came to fruition while overlooking the ones that did not. Whether or not the 80 year cycles he's referring to are true or will continue, the book still provides a very good overview of the generational differences in the US population since the second world war. This is a very important narrative in understanding how the US got to where it is today. The reason for the low rating is because there are tons of predictions being made, and when you make a lot of guesses, some are bound to happen. I also found that the last 20% of the book felt like continuous reiteration of ideas he had already discussed. An interesting point he made is that we should expect a somewhat absurd (I do not recall the exact wording) president about 10 years after the crisis of the fourth turning; I will just leave it at that. He also mentioned that around the year 2020 is when the fourth turning should reach a climax which could potentially culminate in some sort of war. With all the debt that has been created through QE, continuously low-interest rates, Brexit, Trump, Putin, conflicts in the middle east, the rise of cryptocurrencies, and North Korea testing intercontinental ballistic missiles, I both fear but am also really excited to live through and impact what happens next.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joyce Reynolds-Ward

    What a bunch of utter bunkum. This book was part of a 90s-era spate of quasi-futurist attempts to project cyclical patterns on history in a time perceived to be a post-historical era. The authors ignore or try to handwave away the times the history doesn't fit their particular perspective, and they have a conservative cultural agenda they're trying to promote. It fits into the whole "change agent," "church growth theory" sort of speculation that came out of Fuller Theological Seminary in the 70s What a bunch of utter bunkum. This book was part of a 90s-era spate of quasi-futurist attempts to project cyclical patterns on history in a time perceived to be a post-historical era. The authors ignore or try to handwave away the times the history doesn't fit their particular perspective, and they have a conservative cultural agenda they're trying to promote. It fits into the whole "change agent," "church growth theory" sort of speculation that came out of Fuller Theological Seminary in the 70s, where the perception is that society needs to be torn down and recreated in a particular form of Christianity favored by a subset of conservative evangelical beliefs. The only thing that kept this book from hitting a wall is that it was a library book. That didn't keep me from snarking around that at least when I do handwavium in my sf writing, I admit I'm doing handwavium. Cyclical theory does have some interesting elements to it, but this isn't one of those theories. Trying to define societal change based on loose generational theories without looking at actual longitudinal studies is pop sociology and, in this case, not particularly well-done. I refer the reader to Kevin Phillips, who has looked at the rise and fall of mercantile empires including the US and its precursors for a much better look. Unfortunately this is a very attractive theory to those who would sooner burn down the structures of society rather than work to reform them.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Keith Akers

    I approached this book initially very skeptically. My previous experience with "prophecy" was, as I vaguely recall, a book called "The Great Depression of the 1990's" or something like that. But the authors make a convincing case first, that each generation (they define generations in terms of contemporaries or cohorts) really does have a different character, and second, that this generational intermix would produce a major crisis in the U. S. sometime in the period 2005 - 2025. A social crisis I approached this book initially very skeptically. My previous experience with "prophecy" was, as I vaguely recall, a book called "The Great Depression of the 1990's" or something like that. But the authors make a convincing case first, that each generation (they define generations in terms of contemporaries or cohorts) really does have a different character, and second, that this generational intermix would produce a major crisis in the U. S. sometime in the period 2005 - 2025. A social crisis is not when things, even bad things, happen to us. It is a crisis because of our reaction. Consider a catalog of the most recent crises: Bill Clinton’s impeachment, Watergate, the Vietnam War, Iran-Contra, or even September 11. These are not the kind of crises we are looking for, because they didn’t fundamentally change everything in the way that the American Revolution, the American Civil War, and the Great Depression and Second World War did. At the time of September 11, I didn't think that this event presaged the "Fourth Turning," and I still think this is the wrong event. I think that a future historian trying to follow Strauss and Howe's method will probably date this from 2005 (Katrina and peak oil?), 2008 (oil price spike and economic meltdown?), or 2010 (some new crisis).

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael Darmody

    Fascinating to read the parallels and accuracy of many predictions from back in 1997: just at beginning of mainstream of internet, ten years before iPhone etc. They predicted a Crisis around 2006, exactly when the US real estate scam accelerated us into the 2008 financial meltdown. They claim the crisis climax usually shows up around 10 years after the catalyst: 2016 = Trump. A well researched book that held my attention and interest well for 335 pages. I definitely suggest as a tool to gain conte Fascinating to read the parallels and accuracy of many predictions from back in 1997: just at beginning of mainstream of internet, ten years before iPhone etc. They predicted a Crisis around 2006, exactly when the US real estate scam accelerated us into the 2008 financial meltdown. They claim the crisis climax usually shows up around 10 years after the catalyst: 2016 = Trump. A well researched book that held my attention and interest well for 335 pages. I definitely suggest as a tool to gain context during this Fourth Turning!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dax

    Read after being recommended by several guests on Real Vision. Somewhat accurately predicted the last 20 years. Presented me with a lot of ideas I have not encountered before about generational shifts. Had to give 4 since sometimes felt a bit like a fortune teller though spouting generalities. Would still highly recommend everyone read though.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Owlseyes

    First on the White House agenda – the collapse of the global order. Next, war? Jonathan Freedland in: https://www.theguardian.com/commentis... First on the White House agenda – the collapse of the global order. Next, war? Jonathan Freedland in: https://www.theguardian.com/commentis...

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