Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Historian Howe (The Fourth Turning, with Strauss) revisits in this far-ranging treatise his concept of historical cycles, which he calls saecula, composed of four generation-long "Turnings." Since WWII, Howe contends, humans have passed through the "High," "Awakening," and "Unraveling" turnings and are currently in the fourth, the "Crisis" turning, which should climax by the early 2030s. The vaguely sketched period could see economic crashes, political chaos, or war, but it will likely leave humanity, Howe argues, with reinvigorated national institutions, social solidarity, prosperity, and technological marvels. Howe grounds all this in an intricate system of generational archetypes stretching back to the 15th century. Thus, the baby boomers are a prophet generation that will offer visionary leadership in the crisis, Generation X a nomad generation that will seek to provide pragmatic management and stability after suffering childhood abandonment, millennials a public-spirited hero generation that will build the new order, and Generation Z an overly sensitive artist generation. Howe's writing sometimes feels nebulous and Nostradamian--"As Artists replace the Heroes in childhood, they are overprotected at a time of traumatic conflict and adult self-sacrifice"--and his historical comparisons aren't always well supported. The result is an intriguing but ultimately unconvincing theory of history's convoluted patterns. (July)
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
The riveting follow-up to The Fourth Turning. In 1997, entrepreneur and history buff Howe published The Fourth Turning with William Strauss. In that book, they laid out a clear cyclical pattern of Anglo-American history that occurs in units of 80 to 100 years, called a saeculum, which are further divided into roughly two-decade increments called turnings. The First Turning is a High, an upbeat era of strengthening institutions and weakening individualism when a new order arises. The Second, Awakening, is a turbulent era when the new order comes under attack. The Third is an Unraveling, a downcast era of strengthening individualism and weakening institutions when the order decays. The Fourth is a Crisis, when values change and another civic order moves in. Generous with specific examples as well as charts and graphs, Howe delivers a vivid chronicle of 700 years of Anglo-American saecula, emphasizing key events and four archetypes dominating each generation: Prophet, Nomad, Hero, Artist. According to the author, the current saeculum began after World War II, when the U.S. became confident and powerful but also bland and conformist. The second turning, the "Consciousness Revolution," from the 1960s tumult to the tax revolts of the 1980s, featured personal liberation and increasing disorder. The third, the raucous "Culture Wars," began as Reagan's 1980s optimism peaked and "ground to exhaustion with the post-9/11 wars in the Mideast." We are now embroiled in the fourth, the "Millennial Crisis," which began with the global market crash of 2008 and continued with the rise of Donald Trump and authoritarian populism. This saeculum, writes Howe confidently, in the early 2030s, and its successor will feature a surprising number of positive features, including America's continued global leadership. That history runs in cycles has always preoccupied a scattering of historians and attracted a fervent following. Skeptics may roll their eyes, but all readers should enjoy this wild ride by an entertaining writer who seems to have read every relevant source. A fascinating work of global history and look to the future. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.