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Ages of Discord

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  69 ratings  ·  17 reviews
We are on the wrong track

Seventy percent of Americans (and counting) think so. The inflation-adjusted wage of a US worker today is less than 40 years ago—but there are four times as many multimillionaires. As inequality grows, the infrastructure frays and the politics become more poisonous. Every year, more and more Americans go on shooting sprees, killing strangers and pa
Paperback, 274 pages
Published September 2016 by Beresta Books
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4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  69 ratings  ·  17 reviews

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Peter Mcloughlin
For people interested in historical cycles but wanting something more solid than generational theory of Strauss et al. Demographic trends seen in the general population's well-being and growth of aspiring elites and competition among them may hold a key to the cycling of American history. I am a hedgehog by nature in search of a big unifying idea for history but I know enough not to fall in love with the next big idea. This book offers a good demographic model (with stats no less) to describe w ...more
Aaron Arnold
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If anyone can claim to be making Isaac Asimov's dream of psychohistory manifest it's Turchin, who has done more work to create a truly scientific and predictive theory of macrohistorical patterns than probably anyone else. While this is of course impossible in the strictly Asimovian sense of being able to tell exactly when major crises will arise - and unlike Asimov, Turchin does not even pretend to then be able to present timely solutions via hologram - this book makes a convincing argument tha ...more
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: white
Full disclosure: Peter Turchin posted a rough draft of this book on his blog a couple years ago, to invite people to provide input. I read (and commented on) it with enthusiasm then, in its previous form, and was surprised to find myself thanked for this in the Acknowledgements of the final version. So, you already know my basic opinion (thumbs-up). But, on to the details, which are more important in a review anyway.

Turchin's book opens and closes with the same figure: the front cover and the la
Jonathan Jeckell
Brilliant thesis on factors that lead to better cooperation or rising political violence within societies. Turchin updated his model for agrarian societies and used American history as the test case. The results are very disturbing.

There's a lot of math to back up what he's saying and boils down to a set of linked cycles in what he calls "Structural-Demographic Theory." Political instability mounts as the numbers of elites in society starts to overwhelm its ability to support them. Elites (and w
[July 25, 2018]
This book uses statistics and demographics to analyze historical trends. Basically he contends that most human history follows a pattern of a period of rising amity followed by a period of rising conflict that likely results in a major war, and that those patterns are fairly regular and even predictable. The whole cycle lasts around 150-200 years, though there are more frequent 50-year spikes of unrest and retrenchment. He posits that we are currently in a period of rising conflic
Paul Garrett
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very different approach and analysis about the Rise and Fall of civilisations, also very technical and heavy on mathematical modelling. I still prefer the historian Carroll Quigley's book, "Evolution of Civilisations" and his theory of Seven Stages of Civilisations.
Steve Greenleaf
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: human-sciences, hx
One of the oldest and most common endeavors of those who have thought about the long arc of history has been to discern the long trends—sometimes expressed as “laws”—that govern history. The earliest theorists discerned a cyclical pattern, from the earliest myth-histories to the Greeks, and then the great North Africans, St. Augustine and then Ibn-Khaldun. With the Enlightenment, the idea of unending progress arose and even the concept of an “end of history.” But in the 20th century, with the wo ...more
Justin Robinson
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the math that substantiates Nick Hanauer's claim that the pitchforks are coming (i.e., that income inequality is leading to a massive underclass of people who are angry and uncerserved, as well as an over-large group of elites who are making it worse by buying yachts and stirring up trouble politically).

For people who are not convinced that Trump, Clintonistas, and BernieBros are all growing from the same soil, this is a good book to convince you otherwise. If you don't know who Nick Han
Simon Lavoie
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Societies go through secular cycle of integrative and disintegrative (age of discord) phases : prosperous and high on economic and social well-being, with a cooperative mood (a willingness to go beyond one's group narrow interest), then anxiety ridden, low on well-being and cooperation. Turchin shows how the Structural-demographic theory first championed by Jack A. Goldstone in the antic (Roman) and (French, English, Russian) medieval eras can also account for the United States's secular cycle ( ...more
Rebecca Hecking
Not bad, but not for a general reader. It is very technical with lots of data analysis, and it reads like a graduate level textbook that you have to pay very close attention to in order to understand even a little. Lots of historical analysis with less on current affairs than I expected.
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone and everyone
I'm continuing my investigation into the deteriorating socio-political situation in the United States. In this book, Peter Turchin provides more illumination than anything else I have read. I'm working on a longer review. I highly recommend the book - more than that, I urge you to read it. The more people who understand what is going on, the greater the chance we can undertake to steer the 'ship' away from the dangerous course we are on.
An interesting concept about integration and disintegration in American history.

Though an interesting approach to history, statistics, it was a very dry read. Nonetheless, a compelling approach to contemporary social problems.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Nov 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I gave this book three stars because I found the thesis interesting, but am totally unfamiliar with the models he is using and was not able to see the graphs, so don't have a good way of evaluating them overall. Nonetheless, an interesting and credible proposal.
David H Eil
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
I found this one poorly written and reasoned.
Jukka Aakula
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have written a log article based on the book in Finnish language.
Hamilton Carvalho
Great, thought-provoking model of the structures behind long-term cycles in America.
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