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13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail? Paperback – March 23, 1993

3.7 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Both Howe and Strauss are Boomers, but their work marks a sea-change in perception among intellectuals. The 13ers...may just prove an American salvation."--The Daily Telegraph (London)

"[A] valuable primer...a distressing portrait of a generation that has been systematically screwed by their elders...an honest, empathetic, and good-humoured effort to bridge the bitter gap between the twentysomethings and fortysomethings."--The Globe and Mail

From the Inside Flap

In commentary and quotations, computer dumps and cartoons, 13TH GEN is a multimedia anthem to the American post-boomer generation,our country's thirteenth generation since the founding fathers.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (March 23, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679743650
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679743651
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #299,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
After long being accused by writers as being "slackers" and "apathetic," finally a book comes along that explores Generation X in the historical context of being the 13th Generation - an exploration that forces the reader to reconsider their opinion of our misunderstood generation. Mr. Strauss explains that no generation can be defined in a vaccuum. Instead one must understand the preceeding generations as well as the social, political, and economic forces in place during the growth of a generation. Furthermore, generational characteristics and the social, political, and economic environment is cyclical, a theme which he explores in a later work, The 4th Turning.
As a member of the 13th Generation, I knew I was different than my parents and much different than my younger siblings (all members of the Millenium Generation). I went to an elementary school where the classrooms had no walls and students were asked how they "felt" and facts were discouraged. The free-swinging 70's found Playboy and Penthouse in parent's bedrooms, available for the neighborhood kids to sneak and explore. I have been through 2 family divorces and now have 3 half siblings and 3 step siblings - 2 of whom are named Jeff. I have always felt a little lost and very much alone. Reading this book helped me to understand more about myself, without giving me too many "outs" to excuse my life choices. Instead, Mr. Strauss provides facts (and yes, a little opinion)so that myself and other 13ers may rethink our role in society (we're not all slackers) and begin to make our mark in history.
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Format: Paperback
When I first perused this book, I steeled myself
for another flood of invective from former Education Secretary and baby boomer pit bull William Bennett and his ilk about how everyone
and anyone born between 1961 and 1981 (the 13th generation born in the US) is an illiterate thug at worst or a attention-deficient con artist at best.

I was pleasantly surprised. Neil Howe and Bill Strauss, with a format capturing my (I confess, I'm a 13er too) peer group's main modes of expression, slick images and reproduced Internet mail messages and chat, counterpointed by an abundance of statistical and historical data, produce a fascinating and ultimately hopeful assessment of an age group that to many "just doesn't fit."

The authors think this is so because of key events in 13ers' early lives--the effect of a long parade of inept leaders, faddish educators and errant parents, a rising information overload and endless elder doomsaying. This, along with the gut-wrenching changes in the US society and economy that were and still are occurring, left them on their own emotionally and physically quite early and socially and economically so as time passed.

Howe and Strauss believe these and related experiences taught 13ers to think pragmatically, act quickly and be ever-resourceful in the face
of an often absurd and always overwhelming, fast-moving world. The authors dismiss the mainstream alarmist hype and conclude these and other streetwise skills of 13ers will serve the nation well when it's their turn to "take command" in the next century.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book when it first came out because, well, I don't remember why. I think it had something to do with Coupland's Generation X book and the whole notion of actually being a part of some 'generation'. This book seemed a good way to find out what that actually meant. And it did help me to understand the idea of a 'generation'.
It's kind of a quirky book, with a curious layout of sidebars containing quotes from individuals, from books and movies, experts and other pop culture references and statistics, that seem to drive home the point the authors are striving toward. Unto that end it is a great package.
The book is important as it gives a voice to a generation living life under the shadow of the 'Baby Boomers'. These are voices that appear fresh with time and it is great to see them in print.
Revisiting this book almost ten years it seems, though, that the book was trying too hard. It got ahead of itseld in trying to sum up a generation (made up of individuals who didn't realize they were actually a generation!). It seems to me that it was (and still is) a marketing label, a way to define individuals in order to 'target' them. This, in my opinion, is the end result. Looking back at it and the 'hipness' of the narrative voice and the layout, they were trying to market the book without appearing to market the book, trying to be 'hip' without appearing to try to be hip.
While the book does a remarkable job of compiling statistics and nailing down the 'whys' of 13th Gen (more accurate than the term Generation X) behavior, in the end the book doensn't help to explain me (born within the years 1961-81) too much at all. It is good for some nostalgia but it feels a bit outdated.
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Format: Paperback
There is much misunderstanding of the generation which followed the baby boom. This book paints a rich, deep picture of what forces shaped the 13th Generation (aka Generation X) into the reactive generation it is. Taking evidence from census data, sociological statistics and cultural trends, this book shows the 13th Generation as babies when demon-baby movies (Omen, Exorcist, etc.) were popular, as the generation most affected by the 1980's recession (just as it was entering the workforce) and the generation for which social security will be bankrupt by the time it retires. But the book is not apologist. Rather, the book is an in-depth example of the generational paradigm of history put forth by Stauss and Howe in _Generations_ and shows that such a reactive generation is part of a larger historical cycle that has been operating since before the Pilgrims landed on American shores. The book has a great layout for the short attention span audience. The sidebars give great quotes to support the text, there is an ongoing e-mail dialog between the baby boom authors and a gen-x critic, and the mostly black humor cartoons are well chosen to illustrate the text. A must read for anyone who wonders why Gen X folks just don't behave the way they "ought to," or for those Gen X'ers who wonder why the world is so messed up
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