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The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy - What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny Paperback – December 29, 1997

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Editorial Reviews Review

The Fourth Turning continues the project of mapping out the place of generations in history, a project begun in the authors' earlier books Generations and 13th Gen. If millennial fever takes hold, The Fourth Turning may be only the first of an impending wave of pseudo-scholarly tracts prognosticating future (but imminent!) doom as we collectively close the books on this millennium. Those expecting a serious or dry tome might be put off by the authors' taste for bulleted text and catchy phrasings, but can you blame these guys for wanting to make impending peril as exciting as possible? After all, they think we are headed toward "events on par with the Revolution, the Civil War, or World War II" in the next 20 years. Mixing solid understanding of present generational divisions, with some fairly broad generalizations, Strauss and Howe promise to move from history to prophecy. Fans of Future Shock, Megatrends, or Powershift will be familiar with the authors' style of writing and not at all put off by the book's reach or style. Their take on history provides an intriguing (if not always reliable) lens through which to view the past, present, and maybe even the future. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

After researching historical patterns, the authors (Generations: The History of America's Future, Morrow, 1991) conclude that America is on the verge of crisis. They substantiate their hypothesis by identifying and tracing a repetitive, four-stage historical cycle that, throughout recorded time, started on a high note and ended in hardship. Narrator Michael Tilford's polished, convincing voice and steady pacing lend an air of legitimacy to the authors' assertions. A brief question-and-answer session between the narrator and the authors at program's end provides an interactive quality that enhances the sometimes methodical drone of the historical analysis. Like other works of prophecy, The Fourth Turning should circulate well in public libraries.?Mark P. Tierney, The World Bank, Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (December 29, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767900464
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767900461
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (246 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

205 of 215 people found the following review helpful By Marc on September 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I picked up a copy of "The Fourth Turning" because to refresh myself on the generational differences of donors. I was hoping to help a colleague wrestle with how to apply fundraising techniques with attention to these cohorts. Having read the authors' 13th Gen a few years ago, I knew this would be an erudite review. I got what I was looking for and much more! "The Fourth Turning" is actually a compelling look at human history, especially Western history since the middle of the fifteenth century!
Howe and Strauss have amazingly taken the most recent 20th century generations (GI, Silent, Boomer, Xer, and Millennial) and found corresponding generations for the last few hundred years. From this, they've developed a convincing rubric of generational archetypes-GIs and Millennials are the "Hero," Silents are the "Artist," Boomers are the "Prophet," and Xers are the "Nomad." Moreover, they've revisited the millennia old theory that time moves through seasons in a cyclical pattern, one that corresponds with the seasons of the year. The post-WWII era was our "High" or spring; the Consciousness Revolution was our "Awakening" or summer; the 80's and 90's was our "Unraveling" or fall; and we're currently headed for our "Crisis" or winter. They chose to label the seasons "turnings" and the time encompassing the four turnings as the "saecula," a label used by the ancients that roughly corresponds to a century.
With an amazing attention to detail, a scholarly eye to history, and a wonderfully readable writing style, Howe and Strauss show the interplay of the generational archetypes and the turnings.
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217 of 237 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
The book _The Fourth Turning_ is a history combined with prophecy written by generational sociologists William Strauss and Neil Howe. This book is inspiring and provides interesting explanations for why things are the way they turned out to be, but it still doesn't have all the answers.
The theory is basically that history goes through four types of turnings: a conservative High, in which institutions are stable after the success of a major war (the Era of Good Feelings, the Victorian Era, the '50s), a spiritual Awakening in which young people scrap convention for religious discovery (Ben Franklin's Great Awakening, the Transcendental Awakening, the turn-of-the-century Muckrake reform era, the '60s), a wild Unravelling (the colorful Gold Rush, the roaring twenties, and the current era that began about 1984), and a fourth turning -- or Crisis (the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and the Great Depression and World War II were the last three examples). A catalyst will spark the Fourth Turning that will become around 2005. These turnings change when each generation enters a new phase of life.
After you read this book, it's one of those books that completely transforms your mode of thinking. Both the present and the prophesied future are explained by means of generations -- fit into four different types ("archetypes") that shift along with the turnings. The authors identify the Lost Generation (born 1883-1900), the G.I. Generation (born 1901-1924), the Silent Generation (born 1925-1942), the Baby Boomers (born 1943-1960), the 13th Generation (born 1961-1981) and the Millennial Generation (born since 1982). They explain how these generations relate to those throughout history, and date the historical generations born all the way back to 1433.
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136 of 152 people found the following review helpful By James Hiller VINE VOICE on February 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
Member of the 13th Generation? Millenial Generation? The Boomers? Care to track your own development through the maze of historical events to find out where you've been, and more importantly, where you are going? Where our country is going? Then pick this book up immediately. Simply put, the "Fourth Turning" is THE most important book written in the last twenty years, and a book that should be required reading.
Strauss and Howe apparently have devoted their lives to the study of history and the development of generations in societies. The book is loaded, and I mean, loaded with historical references, some of which I wasn't familiar with until now. By looking at these events, and more importantly, looking at the people that went along with those events, Strauss and Howe noticed some recurring patterns in generations over the centuries. Apply this pattern to our country, and to our future, they have correctly predicted that we are headed for a "Fourth Turning", a time of great criss and peril.
Normally, I shun books that people claim to have "visions of the future" involved with them. They are frequently erroneous and based on the whims of the author. However, "The Fourth Turning" is different. By basing their theories of the future on past events, they offer support and credence to their thoughts. The effect is both enlightening and chilling, but it is one that we simply cannot ignore.
I found every single page of their book fascinating as a study or recent history and future history. Also, I personally found self-enlightenment in reading about the generation in which I belong, the long lost "Gen X" crowd, or the title they label it, "13th".
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