The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy - What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny
William Strauss, Neil Howe
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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.
universal conscription, frontal assault, and total victory) more suitable to a fight for civic survival. By then, people will look back on the Unraveling as the time when America evolved from a postwar to a prewar era. The economy will in time recover from its early and vertiginous reversals. Late in the Crisis, with trust and hope and urgency growing fast, it may even achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency and production. But, by then, the economy will have changed fundamentally. Compared
this before the last Crisis, Joe DiMaggio before the High, Jackie Robinson before the Awakening, Reggie Jackson before the Unraveling, and Cal Ripken now. Ripken's Gehrig-like virtue is distinctly Fourth Turning. Yet while it is admired by many people, it is not the kind of in-your-face, high-stepping, free-agent behavior that still sells most Unraveling-era tickets. Just as no single style of leadership or hero worship is suitable for every turning, neither do any of today's familiar political
still reshaping public attitudes. Just as Americans may be starting to sense that we are closer to our next Crisis than to the last, so do scholars intuit we are closer to our last awakening than to the next. The exact dates of the Anglo-American Awakenings may vary, but most historians would broadly agree on the following eras. The Protestant Reformation (1517-1542; climax, 1536) began when Martin Luther posted his famous protest against papal doctrine. Thus began a quarter century of
season.” Thomas Hardy termed midlife “the centre of your time, and not a point at its circumference.” It is Ortega y Gasset's phase of “dominance,” an age for confirming lifestyles, implementing ideas and dreams, realizing projects and plans, mentoring young adults, setting standards for children—and, notes Levinson, “taking the mantle of power.” This is also when individuals realize that the rising generation is no longer their own. Feeling the first signs of physical aging, people realize that
order, work habits) would remain rock solid. People came to believe that the more they got in touch with their inner desires, the more creatively they could consume what they produced—which would not only lend the cornucopia a higher purpose but also keep it going. Although the Awakening was made possible by this durable confidence in the American way of life, the era eroded first the confidence, then the way of life. The erosion of confidence began in 1964, signaled by three apocalyptic films