The Fourth Turning: What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny

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This astonishing book will change the way you see the world -- and your place in it.

With startling originality, The Fourth Turning illuminates the past, explains the present, and reimagines the future. Most remarkably, it offers an utterly persuasive prophecy about a new American era that will begin just after the millennium.

William Strauss and Neil Howe base this vision on a provocative new 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.

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.

Strauss and Howe locate today's America as midway through an Unraveling, roughly a decade away from the next era of Crisis. In a brilliant analysis of the post-World War II period, they show how generational dynamics are the key to understanding the cycles of American history. They draw vivid portraits of all the modern generations: the can-do G.I.s, the mediating Silent, the values-absorbed Boomers, the pragmatic 13ers, and the child Millennials. Placed in the context of history's long rhythms, the persona and role of each generation become clear--as does the inevitability of the coming Crisis.

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.
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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.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Three Rivers Press
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Published on
Jan 16, 2009
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Pages
400
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ISBN
9780307485052
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / 20th Century
Political Science / History & Theory
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • David Brooks challenges us to rebalance the scales between the focus on external success—“résumé virtues”—and our core principles.
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE ECONOMIST
 
With the wisdom, humor, curiosity, and sharp insights that have brought millions of readers to his New York Times column and his previous bestsellers, David Brooks has consistently illuminated our daily lives in surprising and original ways. In The Social Animal, he explored the neuroscience of human connection and how we can flourish together. Now, in The Road to Character, he focuses on the deeper values that should inform our lives.

Looking to some of the world’s greatest thinkers and inspiring leaders, Brooks explores how, through internal struggle and a sense of their own limitations, they have built a strong inner character. Labor activist Frances Perkins understood the need to suppress parts of herself so that she could be an instrument in a larger cause. Dwight Eisenhower organized his life not around impulsive self-expression but considered self-restraint. Dorothy Day, a devout Catholic convert and champion of the poor, learned as a young woman the vocabulary of simplicity and surrender. Civil rights pioneers A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin learned reticence and the logic of self-discipline, the need to distrust oneself even while waging a noble crusade.

Blending psychology, politics, spirituality, and confessional, The Road to Character provides an opportunity for us to rethink our priorities, and strive to build rich inner lives marked by humility and moral depth.

“Joy,” David Brooks writes, “is a byproduct experienced by people who are aiming for something else. But it comes.”

Praise for The Road to Character

“A hyper-readable, lucid, often richly detailed human story.”—The New York Times Book Review

“This profound and eloquent book is written with moral urgency and philosophical elegance.”—Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree and The Noonday Demon

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“Original and eye-opening . . . Brooks is a normative version of Malcolm Gladwell, culling from a wide array of scientists and thinkers to weave an idea bigger than the sum of its parts.”—USA Today
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