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The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy - What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny by Neil Howe and William Strauss

The fourth turning is a very interesting book that tries to identify the broad strokes that define generations throughout history.  What's more, they assert, there are only 4 architypes that cycle over and over again throughout.  The psychology of one generation necessarily shapes psychology of the next in line which shapes the next, and so on.  After four distinct phases (archetypes) the world is brought back to the first and the cycle is reborn.  While their premise seems logical, and is probably sound on a very broad scale, I feel the methodology lacks the attention to nuance that could really flesh out their theory.  The book is very America-centric and necessarily must rely on the available historical information.  But to the victor go the spoils and I can't help but think that much of what is reflected in the "societies" that they reflect on (and therefore pose predictions) are biased towards the white experience.  The psychology of marginalized people may be very different indeed and exert some influence over society at large.  Additionally, as the world becomes more global, the influence that other countries generational cycles exert on the rest of the world increase, thereby changing the psychological development of emerging generations.

Overall, this book is definitely worth reading.  It will have you looking at the world differently and searching to find a new way to explain it.


From Amazon book review:

First came the postwar High, then the Awakening of the '60s and '70s, and now the Unraveling.  This audacious and provocative book tells us what to expect just beyond the start of the next century.  Are you ready for the Fourth Turning?

Strauss and Howe will change the way you see the world--and your place in it.  In The Fourth Turning, they apply their generational theories to the cycles of history and locate America in the middle of an unraveling period, on the brink of a crisis.  How you prepare for this crisis--the Fourth Turning--is intimately connected to the mood and attitude of your particular generation.  Are you one of the can-do "GI generation," who triumphed in the last crisis?  Do you belong to the mediating "Silent Majority," who enjoyed the 1950s High?  Do you fall into the "awakened" Boomer category of the 1970s and 1980s, or are you a Gen-Xer struggling to adapt to our splintering world?  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.

Jeremy FergusonComment