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The Fourth Turning : What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny

Walmart # 558383089

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4.7 out of 5 stars
6 total reviews
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Most helpful positive review
I first read this book in 1998. I took it off the shelf and read it again recently after listening to an interview with the author. It is eerie now to watch the cycle of history repeating much as the authors described. Highly recommended. Much of the book is still relevant today.

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Basing their vision on a provocative theory of American history as series of recurring 80- to 100-year cycles, the authors predict that, just after the millennium, America will enter a new era that will culminate with a political and social crisis comparable to the American Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II. "The Fourth Turning" shows how it is not too early--or too late--to prepare for our next rendezvous with destiny. This astonishing book will change the way you see the world -- and your place in it.

With startling originality, The Fourth Turning illuminates the past, explains the present, and reimagines the future. Most remarkably, it offers an utterly persuasive prophecy about a new American era that will begin just after the millennium.

William Strauss and Neil Howe base this vision on a provocative new 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.

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.

Strauss and Howe locate today's America as midway through an Unraveling, roughly a decade away from the next era of Crisis. In a brilliant analysis of the post-World War II period, they show how generational dynamics are the key to understanding the cycles of American history. They draw vivid portraits of all the modern generations: the can-do G.I.s, the mediating Silent, the values-absorbed Boomers, the pragmatic 13ers, and the child Millennials. Placed in the context of history's long rhythms, the persona and role of each generation become clear--as does the inevitability of the coming Crisis.

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


Broadway Books
Book Format
Original Languages
Number of Pages
William Strauss
Publication Date
December, 1997
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
9.17 x 6.13 x 1.07 Inches

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1-5 of 6 reviews

I first read this book...

I first read this book in 1998. I took it off the shelf and read it again recently after listening to an interview with the author. It is eerie now to watch the cycle of history repeating much as the authors described. Highly recommended. Much of the book is still relevant today.

Two books are essentia...

Two books are essential reading for those who wish to understand the theory of historical seasons and generational cycles. This theory is explained in the books The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy (Broadway Books) and Generations : The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069 (William Morrow and Co.), both by William Strauss and Neil Howe. The Short Cycle Strauss and Howe's writings concern short cycles in history. A short cycle or "saeculum" is a season of life that lasts 80 to 100 years. Within each cycle are four identifiable seasons dominated by one of four generational types: Civic, adaptive, idealist and reactive generations. In the 20th Century, these are known familiarly as the GI Generation (born between 1901 and 1924), the Silent Generation (1925-1942), Baby Boomers (1943-1960), Generation X (1961-1981) and the Millennials (the new civics, born after 1981. Also known as Generation Y).

I approached this book...

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).

In this exceptional bo...

In this exceptional book the authors take a life-cycle view of human affairs that is analogous to the four seasons. A complete cycle repeats and runs through four quarters ; Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter with each season serving a purpose. Since working together in the mid 1980's they became convinced by evidence that human societies follow a cyclical generational pattern rather than one of unbroken linear growth. The evidence is that societies grow, reach a maturity, stagnate and decline, with their particular angle being that generations can be counted from a time of major crisis with four generations (human life cycles) needed to complete the full cycle. They show that "Ever Upwards", "Always More", "Always Better" are useful political slogans that really don´t apply to human affairs other than in a narrow technological sense. Societal awareness of its success/performance/happiness is not an arrow shooting ever upwards but rather an arrow that is shot upwards only to fall to earth and (usually) be fired again to follow a similar but different arc. In American terms they see the present cycle as starting with a post WWII "American High" (1946-1964)(Spring), followed by a "Consciousness Revolution" (1964-1984)(Summer) and "Culture Wars" (1984-2005?)(Autumn) with a Winter on the way that should cover the approximate period of 2005- 2025. As in nature, each season has its possibilities and they identify Crisis (Winter) as a time for societal survival, demanding a genuine gathering together in unselfish common action. Each generation interestingly defines itself in opposition to its childhood parents with "Boomer" children looking for societal order and stability rather than the splintering revolution that was forced onto them. Equally, they show each seasonality as having a dominant ethos that is almost impossible to resist, with the most interesting example probably being the capitulation of Conservatives under Reagan to "me first" individualism and personal freedom of a late stage Third Turning. As they say, "Ideals become Ideologies" and an institutionalized revolution turns into a special interests power grab under the cover of a revolutionary smoke screen, i.e. Woodstock to Animal Farm with some revolutionaries being more equal than others.

Jeepers! Scared the be...

Jeepers! Scared the bejeezus out of me. This is a horror movie masquerading as a book. Written in 1997(!), coins the term millennials, predicts Trump and forecasts a third world war (but hopefully just a financial one) in the 2020s time frame. But don't worry, you have no place to hide and furthermore, you're guaranteed a front row seat to the show. Enjoy.

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Electrode, Comp-447755174, DC-prod-dfw5, ENV-prod-a, PROF-PROD, VER-30.0.0, SHA-4c05261de7b7524702d8d137579365498522abc0, CID-b3170a1d-361-16dfb4d1fb45cd, Generated: Thu, 24 Oct 2019 01:06:38 GMT