The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny PDF AZW3 EPUB MOBI TXT Download

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • “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 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. 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.

William Strauss
December 29, 1997
400 pages

File Size: 58 MB
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“I put down The Fourth Turning with a mixture of terror and excitement….If Strauss and Howe are right, they will take their place among the great American prophets.”–David Kaiser, Boston Globe”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 From the Back Cover 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. About the Author William Strauss and Neil Howe, the authors of Generations: The History of America’s Future and 13th-GEN, write and lecture frequently on generational issues.  Strauss is the cofounder and director of the Capitol Steps, a political cabaret. Howe, a historian and economist, is a senior advisor for the Concord Coalition. They both live in the Washington, D.C., area. Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. Winter Comes AgainAmerica feels like it’s unraveling.Though we live in an era of relative peace and comfort, we have settled into a mood of pessimism about the long-term future, fearful that our superpower nation is somehow rotting from within.Neither an epic victory over Communism nor an extended upswing of the business cycle can buoy our public spirit.  The Cold War and New Deal struggles are plainly over, but we are of no mind to bask in their successes.  The America of today feels worse, in its fundamentals, than the one many of us remember from youth, a society presided over by those of supposedly lesser consciousness.  Wherever we look, from L.A.  to D.C., from Oklahoma City to Sun City, we see paths to a foreboding future.  We yearn for civic character but satisfy ourselves with symbolic gestures and celebrity circuses.  We perceive no greatness in our leaders, a new meanness in ourselves.  Small wonder that each new election brings a new jolt, its aftermath a new disappointment.Not long ago, America was more than the sum of its parts.  Now, it is less.  Around World War II, we were proud as a people but modest as individuals.  Fewer than two people in ten said yes when asked, Are you a very important person?  Today, more than six in ten say yes.  Where we once thought ourselves collectively strong, we now regard ourselves as individually entitled.Yet even while we exalt our own personal growth, we realize that millions of self-actualized persons don’t add up to an actualized society.  Popular trust in virtually every American institution–from businesses and governments to churches and newspapers–keeps falling to new lows.  Public debts soar, the middle class shrinks, welfare dependencies deepen, and cultural arguments worsen by the year.  We now have the highest incarceration rate and the lowest eligible-voter participation rate of any major democracy.  Statistics inform us that many adverse trends (crime, divorce, abortion, scholastic aptitudes) may have bottomed out, but we’re not reassured.Optimism still attaches to self, but no longer to family or community.  Most Americans express more hope for their own prospects than for their children’s–or the nation’s.  Parents widely fear that the American Dream, which was there (solidly) for their parents and still there (barely) for them, will not be there for their kids.  Young householders are reaching their midthirties never having known a time when America seemed to be on the right track.  Middle-aged people look at their thin savings accounts and slim-to-none pensions, scoff at an illusory Social Security trust fund, and try not to dwell on what a burden their old age could become.  Seniors separate into their own Leisure World, recoiling at the lost virtue of youth while trying not to think about the future.We perceive our civic challenge as some vast, insoluble Rubik’s Cube.  Behind each problem lies another problem that must be solved first, and behind that lies yet another, and another, ad infinitum.  To fix crime we have to fix the family, but before we do that we have to fix welfare, and that means fixing our budget, and that means fixing our civic spirit, but we can’t do that without fixing moral standards, and that means fixing schools and churches, and that means fixing the inner cities, and that’s impossible unless we fix crime.  There’s no fulcrum on which to rest a policy lever.  People of all ages sense that something huge will have to sweep across America before the gloom can be lifted–but that’s an awareness we suppress.  As a nation, we’re in deep denial.While we grope for answers, we wonder if analysis may be crowding out our intuition.  Like the anxious patient who takes seventeen kinds of medicine while poring over his own CAT scan, we find it hard to stop and ask, What is the underlying malady really about?  How can we best bring the primal forces of nature to our assistance?  Isn’t there a choice lying somewhere between total control and total despair?  Deep down, beneath the tangle of trend lines, we suspect that our history or biology or very humanity must have something simple and important to say to us.  But we don’t know what it is.  If we once did know, we have since forgotten.Wherever we’re headed, America is evolving in ways most of us don’t like or understand.  Individually focused yet collectively adrift, we wonder if we’re heading toward a waterfall.Are we?It’s All Happened BeforeThe reward of the historian is to locate patterns that recur over time and to discover the natural rhythms of social experience.In fact, at the core of modern history lies this remarkable pattern: Over the past five centuries, Anglo-American society has entered a new era–a new turning–every two decades or so.  At the start of each turning, people change how they feel about themselves, the culture, the nation, and the future.  Turnings come in cycles of four.  Each cycle spans the length of a long human life, roughly eighty to one hundred years, a unit of time the ancients called the saeculum.  Together, the four turnings of the saeculum comprise history’s seasonal rhythm of growth, maturation, entropy, and destruction:The First Turning is a High, an upbeat era of strengthening institutions and weakening individualism, when a new civic order implants and the old values regime decays.The Second Turning is an Awakening, a passionate era of spiritual upheaval, when the civic order comes under attack from a new values regime.The Third Turning is an Unraveling, a downcast era of strengthening individualism and weakening institutions, when the old civic order decays and the new values regime implants.The Fourth Turning is a Crisis, a decisive era of secular upheaval, when the values regime propels the replacement of the old civic order with a new one.Each turning comes with its own identifiable mood.  Always, these mood shifts catch people by surprise.In the current saeculum, the First Turning was the American High of the Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy presidencies.  As World War II wound down, no one predicted that America would soon become so confident and institutionally muscular, yet so conformist and spiritually complacent.  But that’s what happened.The Second Turning was the Consciousness Revolution, stretching from the campus revolts of the mid-1960s to the tax revolts of the early 1980s.  Before John Kennedy was assassinated, no one predicted that America was about to enter an era of personal liberation and cross a cultural divide that would separate anything thought or said after from anything thought or said before.  But that’s what happened.The Third Turning has been the Culture Wars, an era that began with Reagan’s mid-1980s Morning in America and is due to expire around the middle of the Oh-Oh decade, eight or ten years from now.  Amid the glitz of the early Reagan years, no one predicted that the nation was entering an era of national drift and institutional decay.  But that’s where we are.Have major national mood shifts like this ever before happened?  Yes–many times.  Have Americans ever before experienced anything like the current attitude of Unraveling?  Yes–many times, over the centuries.People in their eighties can remember an earlier mood that was much like today’s.  They can recall the years between Armistice Day (1918) and the Great Crash of 1929.  Euphoria over a global military triumph was painfully short-lived.  Earlier optimism about a progressive future gave way to a jazz-age nihilism and a pervasive cynicism about high ideals.  Bosses swaggered in immigrant ghettos, the KKK in the South, the mafia in the industrial heartland, and defenders of Americanism in myriad Middletowns.  Unions atrophied, government weakened, third-parties were the rage, and a dynamic marketplace ushered in new consumer technologies (autos, radios, phones, jukeboxes, vending machines) that made life feel newly complicated and frenetic.  The risky pleasures of a “lost” young generation shocked middle-aged decency crusaders–many of them “tired radicals” who were then moralizing against the detritus of the “mauve decade” of their youth (the 1890s).  Opinions polarized around no-compromise cultural issues like drugs, family, and “decency.”  Meanwhile, parents strove to protect a scoutlike new generation of children (who aged into today’s senior citizens).Back then, the details were different, but the underlying mood resembled what Americans feel today.  Listen to Walter Lippmann, writing during World War I:We are unsettled to the very roots of our being.  There isn’t a human relation, whether of parent or child, husband and wife, worker and employer, that doesn’t move in a strange situation.  We are not used to a complicated civilization, we don’t know how to behave when personal contact and eternal authority have disappeared.  There are no precedents to guide us, no wisdom that was not meant for a simpler age.Move backward again to an era recalled by the oldest Americans still alive when today’s seniors were little children.  In the late 1840s and early 1850s, America drifted into a foul new mood.  The hugely popular Mexican War had just ended in a stirring triumph, but the huzzahs over territorial gain didn’t last long.  Cities grew mean and politics hateful.  Immigration surged, financial speculation boomed, and railroads and cotton exports released powerful new market forces that destabilized communities.  Having run out of answers, the two major parties (Whigs and Democrats) were slowly disintegrating.  A righteous debate over slavery’s westward expansion erupted between so-called Southrons and abolitionists–many of them middle-aged spiritualists who in the more euphoric 1830s and 1840s had dabbled in Transcendentalism, utopian communes, and other assorted youth-fired crusades.  Colleges went begging for students as a brazen young generation hustled west to pan for gold in towns fabled for their violence.  Meanwhile, a child generation grew up with a new regimentation that startled European visitors who, a decade earlier, had bemoaned the wildness of American kids.  Sound familiar?Run the clock back the length of yet another long life, to the 1760s.  The recent favorable conclusion to the French and Indian War had brought eighty years of conflict to a close and secured the colonial frontier.  Yet when England tried to recoup the expense of the war through taxation, the colonies seethed with a directionless discontent.  Immigration from the Old World, emigration across the Appalachians, and colonial trade arguments all rose sharply.  As debtors’ prisons bulged, middle-aged people complained of what Benjamin Franklin called the “white savagery” of youth.  Middle-aged orators (peers of the fiery young preachers of the circa-1740 Great Awakening) summoned civic consciousness and organized popular crusades of economic austerity.  The youth elite became the first to attend disciplined church schools in the colonies rather than academies in corrupt Albion.  Gradually, colonists began separating into mutually loathing camps, one defending and the other attacking the Crown.  Sound familiar again?During each of these periods, Americans celebrated an ethos of frenetic and laissez-faire individualism (a word first popularized in the 1840s) yet also fretted over social fragmentation, epidemic violence, and economic and technological change that seemed to be accelerating beyond society’s ability to absorb it.During each of these periods, Americans had recently achieved a stunning victory over a long-standing foreign threat–Imperial Germany, Imperial New Spain (alias Mexico), or Imperial New France.  Yet that victory came to be associated with a worn-out definition of collective purpose–and, perversely, unleashed a torrent of pessimism.During each of these periods, an aggressive moralism darkened the debate about the country’s future.  Culture wars raged, the language of political discourse coarsened, nativist (and sectional) feelings hardened, immigration and substance abuse came under attack, and attitudes toward children grew more protective.During each of these periods, Americans felt well-rooted in their personal values but newly hostile toward the corruption of civic life.  Unifying institutions, which had seemed secure for decades, now felt ephemeral.  Those who had once trusted the nation with their lives were growing old and dying.  To the new crop of young adults, the nation hardly mattered.  The whole res publica seemed on the verge of disintegrating.During each of these previous Third Turnings, Americans felt as if they were drifting toward a cataclysm.And, as it turned out, they were.The 1760s were followed by the American Revolution, the 1850s by Civil War, the 1920s by the Great Depression and World War II.  All these Unraveling eras were followed by bone-jarring Crises so monumental that, by their end, American society emerged in a wholly new form.Each time, the change came with scant warning.  As late as December 1773, November 1859, and October 1929, the American people had no idea how close it was.  Then sudden sparks (the Boston Tea Party, John Brown’s raid and execution, Black Tuesday) transformed the public mood, swiftly and permanently.  Over the next two decades or so, society convulsed.  Emergencies required massive sacrifices from a citizenry that responded by putting community ahead of self.  Leaders led, and people trusted them.  As a new social contract was created, people overcame challenges once thought insurmountable–and used the Crisis to elevate themselves and their nation to a higher plane of civilization: In the 1790s, they triumphantly created the modern world’s first democratic republic.  In the late 1860s, wounded but reunited, they forged a genuine nation extending new guarantees of liberty and equality.  In the late 1940s, they constructed the most Promethean superpower ever seen.The Fourth Turning is history’s great discontinuity.  It ends one epoch and begins another. 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  • This book builds on the theory that history is cyclical, repeating after four ‘turns,’ each lasting 20-25 years. The first turn is the high, a period of relief after a crisis has ended. The second turning is an awakening, when people start to get back to reality after the high. The third turning is an unraveling, in which people are unhappy with the way things were in the previous two turnings and are now becoming pessimistic about the future. Finally, the fourth turning is a crisis; some unexpected major event that will involve everyone and completely change the way people think from before the crisis occurred to after it ends. Then the cycle begins again with a new high.Each turning is led by a generational archetype, also cyclical. The high is led by an Artist generation. The awakening by a prophet generation. The unraveling by a nomad generation. And last, the crisis by a hero generation. The artists of the high are coming to adulthood after a crisis has ended and enjoy their adult years in the best times. As the prophets enter adulthood, they begin to see a more realistic world with problems to come. The nomads enter adulthood in a time when attitudes are beginning to change for the worst and optimism is fading. And then a major crisis occurs, which the hero generation must solve and the cycle is ended.The authors use historical events in American history to prove the theory. The American Revolution ended almost exactly 80 years before the Civil War ended, and the Civil War ended close to 80 years before World War II ended. So, from that, the authors predicted the next major crisis would occur sometime near 2005, except that is actually less than 70 years after World War II started. Makes sens to the authors. I see some problems with this theory. First, the author ignores some major crises that occurred at the ‘wrong’ time. The War of 1812 saw the fledgling United States go into its first test and emerge victorious, solidifying itself as a young country, capable of fighting for itself. World War I saw a new country joining allies overseas and emerging as a new world power. The Vietnam Conflict saw American citizens rise up in protest of a war for the first time. Each of those easily fits the qualifications the authors gave for a major crisis; the crisis involved everyone, and the country went into the crisis much differently than it emerged from that crisis after it was over.What I liked about this book was the authors took important events throughout history and explained them from the point of view of four different generations; the children, the young adults, the mid-life adult leaders, and the elderly. I have never looked at history this way and I found it very interesting. I believe if the authors had written the entire book this way instead of trying to force it into a theoretical cyclical construct it would have been a much better book, and the authors’ predictions about the future might have been more accurate.Strauss and Howe predicted in 1997 that the next major crisis would start somewhere near 2005. You could say that the attack of Sept 11, 2001 was that crisis, but other than the timing, it doesn’t really fit the rest of the requirements. While it did involve everyone, at least in our way of thinking about the safety of our country, that really didn’t last long and did not change our way of life much at all, even for a short time, except maybe our air travel. And they gave descriptions of the coming generations. While the authors gave fairly accurate descriptions of the baby boomer and generation X generations, they missed badly when talking about the Millenials and Centennials. That’s understandable, though, because the oldes Millenials were still teenagers and the Centennials were not quite born yet when the book was written.So I don’t believe the cyclical history is quite right, but I did still like the book because of the way history was described from the points of view of various generations. Very interesting.
  • To sum up the “erudite” authors’ world view: “What goes around, comes around….history repeats itself…everything changes and stays the same…nothing is lost.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Their bias is heavily obvious, Godless, pagan, a complete lost soul’s view, in short, a propagating lie. They try to redefine time as not moving as an arrow, but as a wheel. They don’t understand that it’s fallen human nature repeating itself, not time. They divide the generations, lifespans, and people into archetypes. They fail to consider alternatives, other than debunking and despising American roots of “radical” Calvinism as radical “linearism”. They debunk “The American Dream”. They fancy they can foretell and get ready for the “next turning.” They haven’t a clue. The book was written in in 1990s. I almost laughed when I skipped over to read their final chapters. Do not buy into it. In fact, don’t buy it at all!
  • I read this book because I am a big proponent of economic influenced cycles, particularly Elliot wave, Kondratieff and Martin Armstrong. So, this book was on my bucket list of books to read. This book has a more eastern atavistic view on how to view history in terms of cycles and circularly instead of linearly, a more western based perspective. Particularly odd considering the authors William Strauss and Neil Howe are American WASPS. You would think they be more biased to a Western based linear approach but I am pleasantly surprised they see history as an Asian would in a cyclical perspective. Their seasonal theory posits that history goes through cycles of seasons as like nature goes through them (spring, summer, fall and winter). This explains a lot of my prior cyclical readings to economic and political cycles reappearing and now I know that the cause is the season reappearing and not just some magical mathematical based cyclical number reappearing after 80 years based on the number PI. This has more clarity and sense to me than nature based on a mathematical formula derived from PI. Who knows maybe they are both correct and integrated into Nature?Now to the major relevancy of this book being crucial to read in our current time. This book predicted the financial crisis of 2008 and in the book it calls it the Great Devaluation. It was off by three years as the book predicated the fourth turning starting in 2005. The morphology of a fourth turning seems to be on course as predicated by prior fourth turnings. A fourth turning morphology starts with a major financial crisis type event and climaxing with a war type denouement some 15-20 years later. So, fifteen to 20 years after the crisis of ’08 comes our next war climax in 2023 to 2028. This gives us ample time to prepare. I for one am buying gold and bitcoin in my financial portfolio to prepare for the coming war crisis. I am specifically an archetype nomad 13er Generation X member and would probably live through the ekpyrosis into our new golden age HIgh, probably starting in the late 2020s/2030s. Hopefully my investments in bitcoin and gold payoff and the new civic order doesn’t confiscate too much of my assets to pay off unpaid debts left over from our unraveling turning era. I also have noticed most major global wars are started from the left, as the conservatives or right want to keep the status quo. I think if we have a Democrat elected in 2020 a major global war might come sooner to us than if we re-elect Donald Trump in 2020, who is hesitant to start a war and is pulling troops out of the Middle East. Donald Trump and Barrack Obama might be the men blamed after this Crisis is done as the people who initiated this global war with their American troop withdrawals out of the middle east. Anyone else notice that these fourth turnings alternate between external (global) and internal (civil) wars in the Anglo-American Saeculum? For example, a list of fourth turning Anglo-American fourth turnings are Wars of the Roses (1459-1487), Armada Crisis (1569-1594), Glorious Revolution (1675-1704), American Revolution (1773-1794), Civil War (1860-1865), Great Depression and World War II (1929-1946) and finally our Millennial Crisis (2008-2029). Notice they alternate between internal and external wars every fourth turning. Maybe our next Millennial Crisis won’t be an external global world war III type event but instead be a domestic civil war inside the USA. Imagine the warring feud of Antifa and the far right turning into a domestic civil war if Donald Trump refuses to give up the Presidency if Donald Trump doesn’t accept the 2020 election results of a Democrat winning. This would be similar to the 2000 election of George Bush but what if Al Gore hadn’t conceded the election results and decided to pursue and start a civil war? Maybe that scenario wouldn’t have been as effective a fillip in an unraveling turning as it would be more effective to come to fruition in a fourth turning Crisis? A paroxysm of rage due to the contested election in this divided environment could be the spark that starts the fire of civil war.Read this book for yourself and judge and think for yourself and come to your own conclusions on what our fourth turning will be like. You won’t be disappointed. This book was written in 1997 and is eerie in its prophecies. We live in a winter Saeculum turning and a redux of these types of Nostradamus prophecy books are all the rage. But the difference of Strauss and Howe’s book between a new age book written by Edgar Cayce or Nostradamus is they have the sociological generational facts and numbers to substantiate their prophecies.
  • I bought this after a news article referenced it – not realising that it was written more than 20 years ago! When reading, you constantly have to adjust to a 20 year old perspective. Then you get to the prophetic parts of the book (which have now largely arrived but not the way prophesied). Dissatisfying.
  • Excellent book , well written and relevant to modern times, through the eyes of history and psychology. We are now at our next crisis in our line of history !Would recommend reading.
  • The current political and social climate we find ourselves in is not only predicted by this book but it’s fully explained. Books like this one should be thought in schools to help prevent the mistakes on the past.
  • While it is doubtful to say that this works is scientific, not least to its use of “prophesies” as a description of what one generation can expect from the next, it is nevertheless a compelling hypothesis that adolescents and adults absorb inputs and mold themselves around the world they come to inhabit, and that this likewise forms their outlook of the future and thus future society.Should you dismiss this approach to historical understanding and prediction, you will at least be delighted in a fairly broad treatment of the last few centuries of Western history (though American-centric and obviously heavily pop-cultural in its treatment of recent times), that shaped societies into what led us to be here today.
  • why history repeats, this book explains a lot.
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