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The Storm Before the Calm: America's Discord, the Coming Crisis of the 2020s, and the Triumph Beyond

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  705 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 25th 2020 by Doubleday Books
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Bryan Alkire
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good book. Of course, the test of these kinds of books is whether they stand the test of time. There’s always the chance that the book will be a 2032 laughingstock or more charitably, forgotten. So, I won’t comment on his specific predictions. Nut, the writing is readable and logical. It could have used a touch more editing, but is still pretty good writing-wise. The analysis, both historical and current seems sound enough. His focus on cycles in American history is pretty standard, about the on ...more
David Wineberg
Dec 10, 2019 rated it liked it
There has been a minor trend of books predicting the end of the American Empire by 2030. The Storm Before The Calm at first appears to be yet another, but it is more nuanced and clever. It doesn’t predict the end, but a new beginning, one that happens every 50-80 years since America was founded. The idea is that there are two series of waves or cycles: the institutional one runs 80 years (or so), and the economic/sociological one runs 50 years. For the first time ever, they will almost overlap i ...more
Ron Housley
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Storm before the Calm
George Friedman

A short Book Report by Ron Housley

I ran across George Friedman over a decade ago when he was the driving force behind Stratfor, before Geopolitical Futures had ever got off the ground. There was something there, some hint of deep understanding and insight about how the world operated, something mysterious and intriguing.

In this current book, George constructs a theory to account for the ebb and flow of historical events, showing us various cycles fro
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I've read from this author, but based on what I liked about this book, I'm going to check out his other works. He makes several predictions about the future of our country, both politically and social-economically. He makes the argument that our history is full of cycles, and that these cycles recur every 50 to 80 years. The graphs scattered throughout the book really helped me to visualize the points the author was trying to make. I would recommend this book to anyone int ...more
İdil Berfin
Mar 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
I'd give this a 0 if I could bye ...more
Casey Wheeler
I had high hopes for this book, but was sorely disappointed. Friedman puts forth two theories of change over the course of history for the United States. One is institutional that occurs approximately every 80 years and one is economic/social that occurs every 50 years. He postulates that these two are going to occur at the same time for the first time in the 2020s. I found his arguements to be weak in that the facts he has used to develop his theory ignore several times where they occurred betw ...more
Mar 14, 2020 rated it did not like it
It is hard for me to believe George Friedman wrote this. He does not use citations or a bibliography, or even an index, but I enjoyed reading his previous books regardless. He stuck to geopolitics mainly in his previous books. This one is much different and much less interesting. The text is dull. Friedman normally has a more concise and witty style of writing. The ideas are also dull. It's as if the Heritage Foundation wrote this one. His theory of 'cycles' were unconvincing to me. There are so ...more
Jeremy Lane
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
It is quite tempting, I think, for those living through a crisis - whether related to global or national health, politics, business, education, or all the above - to feel as if they are living through novel and unprecedented times. Often, many of the details are truly new, but if we take a step back we find that the overall dynamic is a bit of a rerun. I found George Friedman's "The Storm Before the Calm" to be timely in that regard.

Friedman writes in long strides; I found myself reading passag
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
decline of industrialism-mass production required continual presence in the factory & was physical draining, making maintaining one's health very difficult. With the decline of industrialism & the rise of the service & tech industries, concentration on health maintenance became commonplace. Negative habits like smoking have declined, & more attention to exercise & diet has become common. This focus on health will expand.

What are the obligations among people when life stretches to nearly a centur
Tony Prenger
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book proves that the country will continue to go through cycles of change. A very real historical account of the cycles of change inherent in the way our country continues morph into one that fits its current citizens.
Chase Metcalf
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Another great book by George Friedman that builds on his previous explorations of America's geopolitical position and trajectory. The author describes an 80-year institutional and 50-year socio-economic cycle of crisis and stability that define America's history. He then notes that the 2020s will be the first time in the history of the Republic that these cycles will reach a crisis at the same time. In the end, he remains optimistic about the ability of America to reinvent itself and thrive foll ...more
Cade Patterson
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrew Gibson
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was hooked on Friedman's work after "The Next 100 Years" so there's some bias here. Coherent, original, and tight- while also imperfect, with moments of nostalgia, and pro-Americanism. The potential for correlation posing as causation (which of course, remains to be seen) didn't bother me.

Stretching and compelling unified theory of America's history that provides a view of America's future - for the most part non-partisan.

Enjoyed the provocative takes on solving Higher Ed, the mutually benef
Joel Azose
Mar 16, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf

The first third of the book makes you wade through a deeply White European Male-centric "recounting" of early American history, entirely devoid of primary sources, citations, or often any evidence at all for sweeping statements about demographic groups. Maybe Howard Zinn has ruined me for historical / political writing.

One question I couldn't shake was "Who is America for?" Over and over in that first section, Friedman makes statements about the ~character of America~. Unfortunately, "Ameri
Paul Haas
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great read that provides an in depth breakdown of two major Cycles that have shaped the US over 50 and 80 years respectively. He provides historical context before explaining what he believes to be the result of the ending of both cycles in the late 2020s.

Very interesting and thought provoking read.
Brian Moyer
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Friedman identifies two cycles in our nation's history - one institutional and one social. He then extrapolates several predictions for the United States in the 2020s and beyond. His cycles aren't as well researched and fleshed out as the Strauss/Howe generational theory for example, but he does point out some things about our American style of government and our nature as Americans that I think it's fair to make predictions using. 

For example he predicts that 2028 will be a convergence of both
Cyrus Shahriari
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tom Schulte
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 973-933-trump
Basing on seeing multi-decade cycles of institutional, economic, and political changes in this comparative county, the author makes predictions of turmoil over the next decade or so before a returns to tranquil growth in the 2030s. I am generally leery of such predictions, yet I may return to this over the next several years to see how it pans out, such is the strength of arguments based on history. I was certainly more impressed with this work of his than The Next l00 Years. A forecast for the ...more
Andrei Hognogi
Jun 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
I usually give this kind of book 3 stars but I my expectations were subverted so hard, that i'm compelled to give this a better rating.

Friedman makes the case that there are two cycles , economic and social, in the history of US and they both should "reset" in the 20 20's. I am skeptical about this particular prediction, (what if there are cycles in the cycles? like leap years kind of thing), but the book around this argument is absolutely worth the read.

Considering that I knew Friedman to be a
Apr 24, 2020 rated it liked it
I wish good reads aloud half stars, because I would give this one 3 1/2. I listened to the audiobook version, and the narrator was just OK. That does color my opinion of the book overall. The take on history is very good, the hypothesis of the recurring cycles is interesting. I’m not sure if I believe his predictions. There were some good explanations as to why The US is the way that it is.
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars
Robert Van buhler iii
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant encapsulation of the State of the Union as we enter the '20s. The man is a solid historian, and puts together a credible scenario of what we have seen in US History cycles and what happens when things must change. This is not about left or right, but structure. ...more
Ryan Anderson
Jan 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
An interesting view of what is potentially coming in the next few decades. I appreciate the fact that he did not bog down the reader with overly complicated/ explained reasons for his predictions. He kept examples of previous American cycles brief, which in turn progressed the book and his point along. While I am not overly educated in previous American cycles, his descriptions were convincing and leave the door open to do my own additional research.

He also does not get captured in the typical
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The latest from George Friedman, author of "The Next 100 Years". The current pandemic is not the storm the author refers to. And he views the Trump era as a symptom of a much bigger cyclical change that will unfold sometime over the next 10 years. The book covers: 1) How the American identity was forged; 2) How it evolved from pre-revolutionary colonial days to the present; and 3) How the end of the current institutional (every 80 years) and socio-economic (every 50 years) cycles will coincide d ...more
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is an intriguing read, which made me think more about the patterns in our history.
Everyone seems to have a theory about the 2020s - 2030s and Mr. Friedman is no different. Modeling is a chancy business, most of these models tend to be wrong (consider the models for the impact of covid-19).

The Storm Before the Calm is an analytical model that eschews personalities for larger, impersonal forces at work in American history. It may well prove to be wrong, but it may well prove to be correct (though the odds are against the latter in its entirety). Still, it is an interesting ana
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
While this book isn't bad, it isn't great either. It borrows on theories from Neil Howe and William Strauss on Generational Theory. Friedman has no original theories of his own, other than he separates the 3rd turning and the 4th turning and explains them as two distinct events which can overlap one another.

The other problem with this book is he only looks at the start of American history, which is only 250 years. This doesn't give much basis to any of his theories, so it is easy to debunk much
Nelson Rosario
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reason
Read it.
Don Fisk
Nov 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Where a very lucid "big picture" description of a complex situation is proposed, there is always a suspicion that a lot is being obscured, and a "simple" (in the pejorative sense) picture is being proposed.

I do not think that is the case here. George gives the ignorant (me) a brief lesson in the development of the United States and its institutions, from the Jamestown colony, the revolution, the constitutional convention, the civil war. The Homestead act, the Louisiana purchase, the Gold Standar
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George Friedman is an internationally recognized geopolitical forecaster and strategist on international affairs and the founder and chairman of Geopolitical Futures.

A New York Times bestselling author, Dr. Friedman's most recent book, THE STORM BEFORE THE CALM: America’s Discord, the Coming Crisis of the 2020s, and the Triumph Beyond, published February 25, describes how “the United States perio

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