The Fourth Turning

By William Strauss; Neil Howe
(Broadway Books, Hardcover, 9780553066821, 400pp.)

Publication Date: December 1996

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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Description
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. With the same intellectual audacity that animated their previous best-sellers, "Generations" and "13th-GEN," 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-doG.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.
By applying the lessons of history, "The Fourth Turning" makes some bold and hopeful predictions about America's next rendezvous with destiny. It also shows us how we can prepare for what's ahead, both individually and as a nation. As "Future Shock" did in the 1970s and "Megatrends" did in the 1980s, this groundbreaking book will have a profound effect on every reader's perception of where we've been and where we're going.
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