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Summary

National best seller

“A startling vision of what the cycles of history predict for the future.” (USA Weekend)

William Strauss and Neil Howe will change the way you see the world - and your place in it. With blazing 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. 

Strauss and Howe base this vision on a provocative theory of American history. The authors look back 500 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 20 years and that always arrive in the same order. In The Fourth Turning, the authors illustrate these cycles using a brilliant analysis of the post-World War II period.

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.

The Fourth Turning offers bold predictions about how all of us can prepare, individually and collectively, for America’s next rendezvous with destiny.

©1997 William Strauss and Neil Howe

Critic reviews

"One of the best efforts to give us an integrated vision of where we are going." ( Wall Street Journal)
"A startling vision of what the cycles of history predict for the future." ( USA Weekend)

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An interesting perspective.... But!

A little dark...but who said life was always going to be sweetness and light.

An industrious use of.... the concept of cycles in the life story of a society...

But! Metaphors wow.... it must be my autism I just couldn’t keep up...

My bad I’m sure...

Ok, you’ll get the concept.... but keeping track of all the metaphors well let's just say you really do need to be logistically minded.

Anyone interested in sociology... I’m sure will be gripped by the insight...

Some books I reread for finer detail...this one though...to try and understand all the metaphors.











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A very intriguing listen!

I picked this up to help with my macro understanding of the markets. I guess we will have to wait 10 to 20 years to see if it pays off :)

I enjoyed this a lot, and will listen to it again around 2022

1 person found this helpful

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Stunningly Prescient

As with all books that predict the future, artistic license is needed. Food for thought.

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Just Awesome! No more words need said. Good read.

Everyone should read this. Simply stunning look at cyclical history. I wish I had read this at 16 as a last cohort Thirteener it would have served me well. We are now in the crisis times and to see Trump that dangerous Boomer mentioned, just creepy the prediction level. This can't be all life is... Amazing!

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phenomenal prescience from a book written in 1997

the authors accurately predict much of what came to pass in the 00's.. and give us deep insights in how to proceed, today 20 years after it was written and 10 years after the GFC

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  • Mr
  • 16-05-22

Perceptive commentary, unconvincing conclusions.

This book was written in 1997, and much has changed and moved on since then. It's undergone a revival in popularity in the past few years as the escalating economic and social turmoil racking western civilisation in the 2020s have made its prophecy of a major crisis in the early 21st century seem highly prophetic.

The overall trajectory of degeneration (not a word the authors use, but one that I think fairly summarizes their argument) in western civilisation has undoubtedly accelerated since then. With many of the phenomena that they very eloquently and perceptively describe and analyse, escalating to levels that could not have been imagined by even the most pessimistic commentators in the 90s. Many of us suspect that a major upheaval and re-settlement is approaching, more or less on the book's schedule.

(Side note - every time Hillary Clinton is mentioned, it's hard not to notice that she has never once in her life "believed" anything for longer than was politically convenient).

The major thing they got wrong (and this is not a criticism since predicting the future is near impossible) was in forecasting a small-c conservative revival and awakening in the years following the book's publication. The overwhelming triumph of "woke" and authoritarian-leftist politics since then, which has now totally captured every single power-centre in the western world, has however served to strengthen the author's overall assertion that a major dissolution and re-formation of society must come sooner or later.

All of that is great stuff - and the way in which the book talks about different issues and different social phenomena is invariably eloquent and persuasive. It's only when they start trying to "zoom-out" and create a vast, sweeping historical theory that can be replicated across centuries in the same pattern: that one starts to have doubts. One basic problem I had with the whole underlying thesis is the notion of distinct cadres of generations - people are being born and dying every minute of every day, and representatives of all generations can be found in all social and political movements. One can indeed find regular eruptions and bouts of turmoil in history, but the complexity of any large-scale historical phenomena, makes me sceptical that simply looking at "generations" can be a useful metric. It's always possible to find patterns if you look for them and you get to cherry-pick your data-points.

Still - it certainly provides plenty of food-for-though, and will furnish an interesting new perspective to anyone thinking about the increasingly "interesting times" (as the Chinese curse says) that we live in.

Narrator is perfectly competent.

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knew the future

well that was a 😮surprise
listen it's woth it and note when it was first written.

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chilling

reading this in 2022 is unbelievable everything is so acurate. the boomers have become immoral prophets as it warned against, but some went to the covid protests first and the millenials are finaly appearing, I was a lonely millenial at the start. the millenials civic duty has been weaponized against them by dictator gen z and narcissistic boomers but its starting to change. must read.

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I like it

Prophetic discussion of times cycle as a predictor of generational behaviour. Explains too many unrelated phenomena to be dismissed. The 4th turning is complicated with its 4 generations each with an evolving aging role to play creating the tapestry of history. Generations eternally fighting and cooperating in 4 historically observed civilizational turnings that play out in 80year cycles recurring over centuries. It offers meaning, warning and hope in a cynical world now much divorced from meaning.

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Fascinating

A complex and huge subject made simple, amazingly accurate prediction of 2020 made in 1997!

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  • GiniO
  • 02-03-17

Authors take a "short" view of history

We are a new country and I'm not sanguine with the authors using the last 400+ years of America's existence as the basis for their speculative theory. If they wish to show that their theory "holds water", then they need to visit European culture from the 1600's to the present. Even go back another 500 years in European history to show these 4 "turnings" at work. Their ideas are provocative and worth exploring but I have a sense that they've manipulated history to fit their theories.

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  • MB
  • 04-11-18

Inaccurate predictions on generations

This book isn’t new, and so it does give us the ability to determine the accuracy of the predictions over the last two decades. There is evidence to suggest there are cycles and seasons within human history, and that we are likely entering into winter or within one. My issue with this book is the completely wrong predictions about Baby Boomers and beyond. The authors predictions on the millennials generation is just laughable. As a tail end GenXer, I can also say that the majority of observations and predictions about our generation are wrong. The authors offered additional opinion based suggestions and commentary at the end, which they offered as empirical truths. This wasn’t a bad book, but their predictions doesn’t stand the test of time. For that reason, I’m not satisfied with it. I do wish they would make a new version of this book and revisit and improve upon their predictions and timeline.

38 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 17-04-10

Fascinating

This book gave me a new perspective on our history and our possible future. This book was written in 1997 and I read it in 2010. It's not a book predicting the future, but it does make some forecasts that are pretty spot-on. I find this book quite valuable and would recommend this book to my children when they grow up. The knowledge in it is valuable in that it gives you foresight of cycles to come in our culture. I agree with the authors' premise that time is cyclical and not linear.

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  • Keith J.
  • 02-05-20

Nothin like the book

This is an abridged version of the book. Wish they would have said this. Weak, comparative speaking.

29 people found this helpful

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  • Carol Barnes
  • 23-02-18

Abridged

I really dislike that this was abridged. I don't think that I had sufficient access to understanding some of the points being made because of it. Sweeping statements would be made without enough support or discussion as to why I should think that they are so

29 people found this helpful

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  • Beloo
  • 17-10-03

As the World Turns...

This book presents a fresh and fascinating viewpoint of how the order and relationship of generations to one another bring about great and unexpected changes in our society. The thesis builds upon a previous study done by the authors in an earlier book entitled "Generations" and works to apply the theories advanced in that book to the conditions as we have them today. Far more than a book of shallow prognosication, it equips each of us with a new lens that can be used to see relationships and trends heretofore invisible. I recommend it for anyone with an interest in history who wishes to challenge their staid views of the past.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Judd Bagley
  • 03-05-09

The grand unified theory of sociology

People who really get what this book is saying find it changes their entire world views. I am one of them and cannot recommend it highly enough. Having said that, I also cannot do enough to recommend that you get paper and audio versions and consume them in parallel. Some of these concepts really need to be seen in tabular format to be understood. At the same time, I found that listening to this abridged version greatly enhanced by comprehension of the full print version, and helped me to be more patient with it when it grew occasionally circular.

29 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Greg
  • 06-04-10

Outstanding

This is a great book. Though it was written in 1996 because of the accuracy of their predictions you would have thought it was written today (2010) in retrospect of the happenings of this past decade. It'll change the way you think about and see the things happening in America today.

11 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Richard
  • 13-11-10

An Amazing Map of What is to Come

I listened to this book four times to date. This book lays out history in a completely new and insightful way and provides razor sharp insight into what is going on in society now and what is to come. It is at once hopeful and terrifying.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Robert
  • 29-06-04

Explanation of generational interaction

Future generations will judge this book and the theories it presents as a foundation to understanding how the generations interact. Anyone who takes the time to understand this book will be uniquely prepared for the events that are about to unfold in the not too distant future (2009).

19 people found this helpful