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The Fourth Turning

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,246 Ratings  ·  213 Reviews
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 t
Paperback, 400 pages
Published December 29th 1997 by Three Rivers Press (first published December 1st 1996)
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Aug 22, 2008 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first quarter of this book is junk. It's a review of moldy pseudoscience about theories of four - four humours, four elements, four seasons, four temperaments, four phases of life. It has little or nothing to do with the central premise that there is a four generation cycle of behavior in Angle-American society - all you have to do to justify the length of this cycle to me is to point out that the normal death from old age occurs about four generations after birth. After the authors finish w ...more
Feb 12, 2009 Pamela rated it really liked it
Wow! I could totally see why Obama won the election after reading this--and why McCain did not. This is an amazing book on the patterns of history--and, as it was written 10 years ago, a dead-on prediction of the last 10 years. After reading it, I'm preparing for another crisis in the next 5 years. (I personally think the next American Crisis is going to be a cultural civil war--we'll see!)
Jul 22, 2015 Kristy rated it it was amazing
Four Turnings, or types of large events, have recurred throughout history, especially American history and its immediate antecedents in England. The first is a High period where things are going very well, the second is a spiritual Awakening, the third is an ugly period of decline or Unraveling, and the fourth is a Crisis. Strauss and Howe prove this case over and over and over again in their book. (It took me a while to get through all the analysis.)

Need extra motivation to read this book, or j
Celeste Batchelor
UPDATE: Re-reading this one as part of a study group. I'm excited to STUDY this one deeper.

This was a necessary, but a tough read. I recommend it even though I only gave it three stars. I learned a great deal from this book, I just wish it was explained in more layman's terms. At times I felt angry and even stopped reading the book for a few days to clear my head of hurt feelings when reading of my Boomer generation parents and how they parented. I did find these generalizations to be true for
Jun 03, 2011 Christy rated it it was amazing
There is so much corruption that I am looking forward to this next crisis. This attitude is predicted on page 257. Do I realize what I am actually saying? Maybe.

I give it 5 stars for introducing a new paradigm that understands history as cyclic, not linear. I loved the hero cycle described in the archetype and am going to read Hero With a Thousand Faces soon. I was fascinated at how wars turn out and are remembered in history when they aren’t 4th Turning wars. The Civil War and was a fascinatin
Feb 27, 2011 J. rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2011-reads
The Fourth Turning explains a theoretical approach to history - a cyclical system of societal high, awakening, unraveling and crisis. Each period has a corresponding stereotype: prophet, nomad, hero and artist. The time period for the cycle is the course of a generation, deemed a saeculum. Each of the four periods in a saeculum lasts between 17 to 29 years, as the authors piece together historical events to fit their theory. The only abnormality (that they recognize) is the time period for the c ...more
Apr 03, 2011 Natasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, sociology
Strauss and Howe make a strong argument for studying time cyclically. Not only does a definite pattern of seasons of growth and decay emerge over the centuries, but generations are formed determined by their relation in time to historical events. For example, generations who come of age during a crisis take on a hero role as they march in step to the orders of their elders and save the day. The authors claim, "When history is viewed as seasonal . . . each generation can discover its own path acr ...more
Dec 09, 2012 Jayne rated it really liked it
Back in 2008, I read The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe. I just came across a review (more like a synopsis) that I had put on LiveJournal at the time, so I figured I might as well post it here:

First, let the record show that "Everybody Knows" was originally written and recorded by Leonard Cohen, and to attribute the lyrics to Concrete Blonde demonstrates some willful fucking ignorance.

Second, did you know that Generation X was "the most-aborted generation in U.S. history"?

I don'
This is the best book I have read all year, in terms of how much it has changed my worldview. My wife has noticed that I am now seeing just about everything through the lens of generational cohorts, and in terms of the "fourth turning" we are now in as a society. The book was written by some liberal baby-boomers, but the basic premise (that we are heading toward a crisis) seems to fit with similar predictions from folks on the political right as well (such as Glenn Beck, who predicts global econ ...more
Beth A.
Jul 24, 2011 Beth A. rated it really liked it
Recommended to Beth A. by: Laura
Shelves: nonfiction, political
A slow read, but interesting and thought provoking. It’s an attempt to predict the future in a fairly general way based on patterns in history and repeating generational traits. It’s an intriguing idea that as a generation our personalities may be formed- by the parenting and actions of our elders- in such a way that our traits can be traced back and predicted forward in rotating patterns that cause historical and current events to adhere to similar patterns. This theory seemed to make sense to ...more
Dec 17, 2008 Shad rated it it was ok
I know you really liked this one, which is why I was a little concerned about posting my rating. First, I think I'm a stingier rater overall. Basically, I think of the Book of Mormon as my 5, so it is pretty hard for other books to stack up. Second, while there were several things I appreciated about the book, I disagreed with much of the "methodology" and reasoning.

I did appreciate the effort to take a broader view of history, and I do think that cycles play roles in history and in our lives t
Aug 08, 2015 Yougo rated it really liked it
While the material is very interesting, I am not giving it a full 5 stars due to the writing style of the authors. The material is very compelling and quite interesting. How do different periods in history affect the different age groups. The age groups in turn influence the next group and so on till we get a cyclical effect. While it is a little disturbing to think that we have that little control over the societal mood and movement, it is very interesting.

However, this book is truly written by
Mar 31, 2015 Dunrie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Very thought-provoking. It's aged pretty well.

The premise is interesting: time is not as linear as we like to believe and generational archetypes and patterns repeat in a four-phase cycle. The book reflects and explains generational and social trends (GI generation, Boomers, Gen X, Millenials).

I resonated with the description of the "Nomad" archetype in our time--Gen Xers. That's my generation, and the description felt right. I also found inspiration in the assertion that the Millenials are th
May 28, 2015 Stan rated it really liked it
January 12, 2014, I believe cycles flow through the whole of human history; there are patterns of highs and lows, openness and control. In the cycle of these patterns, when we are born has an impact on our perspective of the world and how it works. But I don't believe history mechanically repeats itself. Strauss and Howe do a very good job, and an exhaustive job, of describing the cycles that run through human existence. My understanding of what has happened in history and why people of differen ...more
Oct 29, 2010 DWGibb rated it really liked it
After much study and research, these guys have a theory of history that pretty well reveals what's happening now and in the coming decade in historic terms. They are very much into the cyclical nature of time and history, rather than the linear approach we've all become accustomed to. The cycle is a saeculum, about a hundred years, or a long lifetime.

Each saeculum is divided into four phases or turnings that repeat with each saeculum. The turnings are a High, an Awakening, an Unraveling and a C
Nov 05, 2010 Jocie rated it really liked it
Understand the past to predict the future. History continues to cycle- tragedy and destruction lead to a hard-working and ethical culture (hopefully), which creates prosperity, which creates decadent and ignorant great-grandchildren (hopefully not, but usually), and then society unravels which leads to tragedy and destruction. Yikes! True and scary! This book shows these cycles in American history back to the 1600's.

Why do we need to know this? When each culture falls apart it is then rebuilt- a
Sue T
Apr 07, 2015 Sue T rated it it was amazing
A great confirmation of the saying: "History repeats itself".
Feb 14, 2015 Dstuffle rated it it was ok
I have mixed thoughts about this book. I can go along with the idea that time may have cycles. In this case an 80-ish year cycle with 4 generational turnings. The arguments for this were pretty good.

Where the book loses it (and the reason for my 2 star rating), is chapter 5. This is where the book written in 1997 or so prophecies / predicts what will occur on the last of phase 3 and the start of phase 4. The things they predicted to happen from 1998 – 2010 where so far off what happened, it made
Jul 05, 2016 William rated it it was amazing
The Fourth Turning may be the most insightful book I have ever read. This book published in 1997 presents a unique recurring history of mankind staring with the late medieval era (1435) to current times. It presents a fantastic history of recurring saeculum (~80-100 year cycles) containing "turnings" of approximately 1/4 of a saeculum wherein each generation undergoes a recurring series of environmental conditions leading to a "Crisis" Turn where all hell breaks loose. We today are in the early ...more
May 03, 2014 Jordan rated it liked it
Shelves: sociology
It was variously enthralling and yet maddening due to the clearly pseudoscientific astrological type numeromancy going on in this book. Parts of the book were exacting and seemed to be very spot on, the fact that the book came out in 1997 but makes such cutting use of the phrase "Winter is coming" was a disturbing coincidence considering we are both entering the Crisis period predicted by the book, and people are increasingly caught up in watching Game of Thrones wherein that line is an oft repe ...more
May 07, 2015 Linette rated it liked it
I actually finished! I thought I was never going to get to the end of this book.

Whilst I enjoyed the premise and I can see the archetypes I felt like Strauss and Howe belaboured the point. They made their point and then they made the same point again, and then they made the point in a different way and then they found another way to make their point.

I get it OKay!
Angie Libert
Jan 30, 2013 Angie Libert rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scholar
I would classify this book as a must read for anyone that wants a better grasp on history. Thinking of the past within its appropriate "turning" and the people within their "archetypes" has helped me to make connections better and to feel more connected to the past.

This is the second time I have read this book, and it worth the second read.
John Dobbs
Dec 16, 2015 John Dobbs rated it really liked it
I heard about this book on The Glenn Beck Program. It's about a four-generation cycle involving the changing relations of the four living generations at each time. There are four roughly 21-year turnings within each roughly 84-year cycle.

I'm a Gen-Xer/Nomad. The description of us came across as if we were limited and somewhat hopeless. I don't buy the pessimism. While it may be generally true about it--I'm not sure it is--we have strengths or access to them that also make us potentially great. I
Johanna Dolan
Feb 16, 2016 Johanna Dolan rated it it was amazing
I am IN LOVE with this book!! It explains my Gen X angst. It explains what is happening right now in the USA. And it offers HOPE for what is coming next! Fantastic book - you HAVE to read it.
Jun 21, 2015 Alex rated it it was amazing
"The Fourth Turning" is a non-fiction book predicting the near future... like 2005 to 2010. OK... it already happened, but since it already happened it is fascinating to see how accurate the predictions were. And it's not over.

I understand how I fit into my generation and how my children fit in. It tickles me that my children are "hero" archetypes. The book also explains a lot about the cycles of history. Actually... that's all they do.

The book seems repetitive. I think I was not following a lo
Apr 06, 2011 Stephanie rated it liked it
This book was strange. I'm rather fascinated by the theories in it, thereby making it worth a look. I've already taken sociology classes that have discussed how political opinion reliably switches from party to party every twenty years (???) or so. It's not much of a stretch to extrapolate this onto generations and larger behavioral patterns. In the end, this is largely a book about how societies are changed by war, and how it causes ripple effects on down through the generations (particularly w ...more
Aug 12, 2008 Drkazmd65 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in history or politics
Recommended to Drkazmd65 by: Review on an online political blog
I picked up this book after reading a brief review of it on the Huffington Post. The idea of this book in that brief review was enough to make me go out and pick it up off B& - something I almost never do.

I wasn't disapointed. The authors lay out the idea behind four basic archetypes that more than generally correspond with 20-year generation cycles. These types are shaped by those that raise them, and the expanding or contractiong spiritual and economic cycles that they grow up in. Ea
Keith Akers
Jan 09, 2010 Keith Akers rated it it was amazing
I approached this book initially very skeptically. My previous experience with "prophecy" was, as I vaguely recall, a book called "The Great Depression of the 1990's" or something like that. But the authors make a convincing case first, that each generation (they define generations in terms of contemporaries or cohorts) really does have a different character, and second, that this generational intermix would produce a major crisis in the U. S. sometime in the period 2005 - 2025.

A social crisis
Tress Huntley

Worth the time invested. I wonder what I would have thought about it if I'd read it when it came out in 1997. I was 26 then, and not sure I would have wanted to get its message. But interestingly, here we are pretty much exactly where the authors predicted we would be at this point in time. I found some comments the authors made after 9/11 happened, restating their confidence in the cyclical nature of history (versus linear, which I can see I have been assuming all this time probably in error)
Apr 21, 2009 Kristy rated it really liked it
Over all I found this book intriguing. I felt there was some repetition that maybe could have been left out, but their point was well made and well established. I feel there is truth in the idea that history is cyclical, not linear as we sometimes think it is. If you haven't read this book or heard about it, basically what the authors do is show how in the last 3,000 years of recorded European history the world has gone through patterns that have repeated. And unless we are so much more differen ...more
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What will be the Fourth Turning Crisis? 5 46 Jan 15, 2012 02:15PM  
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“Yet the great weakness of linear time is that it obliterates time's recurrence and thus cuts people off from the eternal—whether in nature, in each other, or in ourselves. When we deem our social destiny entirely self-directed and our personal lives self-made, we lose any sense of participating in a collective myth larger than ourselves. We cannot ritually join with those who come before or after us.” 1 likes
“Before, the dominant numerical paradigm for change was four, originally a feminine symbol in most cultures. In the great quaternities of seasons, directions, and elements, the fourth element always circles back to the others. Today, the dominant paradigm is three, originally a masculine symbol. In the great triads of Christianity and modern philosophy, the third element always transcends the others. Before,” 0 likes
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