“A startling vision of what the cycles of history predict for the future.” —USA Weekend
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 how America’s past will predict its future.
William Strauss and Neil Howe base this vision on a provocative 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 1990s America as midway through an Unraveling, putting us currently in the 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 Millennials. Placed in the context of history’s long rhythms, the persona and role of each generation become clear—as does the inevitability of a 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.