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The Fourth Turning cover art

The Fourth Turning

Written by: William Strauss,Neil Howe
Narrated by: William Strauss,Neil Howe
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Publisher's Summary

National best seller

“A startling vision of what the cycles of history predict for the future.” (USA Weekend)

William Strauss and Neil Howe will change the way you see the world - and your place in it. With blazing originality, The Fourth Turning illuminates the past, explains the present, and reimagines the future. Most remarkably, it offers an utterly persuasive prophecy about how America’s past will predict its future. 

Strauss and Howe base this vision on a provocative theory of American history. The authors look back 500 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 20 years and that always arrive in the same order. In The Fourth Turning, the authors illustrate these cycles using a brilliant analysis of the post-World War II period.

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.

The Fourth Turning offers bold predictions about how all of us can prepare, individually and collectively, for America’s next rendezvous with destiny.

©1997 William Strauss and Neil Howe

Critic Reviews

"One of the best efforts to give us an integrated vision of where we are going." (Wall Street Journal)
"A startling vision of what the cycles of history predict for the future." (USA Weekend)

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History is Seasonal

Great book. gives a totally new perspective of history. How different generations shapes history. 4th turning is due very shortly and we should all be prepared for it

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Lessons of society seasonality

Great awareness about baby boomers, 13ners, Gen Y's, Gen Z's and it's economy seasonalites

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  • GiniO
  • 02-03-17

Authors take a "short" view of history

We are a new country and I'm not sanguine with the authors using the last 400+ years of America's existence as the basis for their speculative theory. If they wish to show that their theory "holds water", then they need to visit European culture from the 1600's to the present. Even go back another 500 years in European history to show these 4 "turnings" at work. Their ideas are provocative and worth exploring but I have a sense that they've manipulated history to fit their theories.

54 people found this helpful

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  • MB
  • 04-11-18

Inaccurate predictions on generations

This book isn’t new, and so it does give us the ability to determine the accuracy of the predictions over the last two decades. There is evidence to suggest there are cycles and seasons within human history, and that we are likely entering into winter or within one. My issue with this book is the completely wrong predictions about Baby Boomers and beyond. The authors predictions on the millennials generation is just laughable. As a tail end GenXer, I can also say that the majority of observations and predictions about our generation are wrong. The authors offered additional opinion based suggestions and commentary at the end, which they offered as empirical truths. This wasn’t a bad book, but their predictions doesn’t stand the test of time. For that reason, I’m not satisfied with it. I do wish they would make a new version of this book and revisit and improve upon their predictions and timeline.

41 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 17-04-10

Fascinating

This book gave me a new perspective on our history and our possible future. This book was written in 1997 and I read it in 2010. It's not a book predicting the future, but it does make some forecasts that are pretty spot-on. I find this book quite valuable and would recommend this book to my children when they grow up. The knowledge in it is valuable in that it gives you foresight of cycles to come in our culture. I agree with the authors' premise that time is cyclical and not linear.

36 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Carol Barnes
  • 23-02-18

Abridged

I really dislike that this was abridged. I don't think that I had sufficient access to understanding some of the points being made because of it. Sweeping statements would be made without enough support or discussion as to why I should think that they are so

34 people found this helpful

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  • Keith J.
  • 02-05-20

Nothin like the book

This is an abridged version of the book. Wish they would have said this. Weak, comparative speaking.

33 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Judd Bagley
  • 03-05-09

The grand unified theory of sociology

People who really get what this book is saying find it changes their entire world views. I am one of them and cannot recommend it highly enough. Having said that, I also cannot do enough to recommend that you get paper and audio versions and consume them in parallel. Some of these concepts really need to be seen in tabular format to be understood. At the same time, I found that listening to this abridged version greatly enhanced by comprehension of the full print version, and helped me to be more patient with it when it grew occasionally circular.

29 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Robert
  • 29-06-04

Explanation of generational interaction

Future generations will judge this book and the theories it presents as a foundation to understanding how the generations interact. Anyone who takes the time to understand this book will be uniquely prepared for the events that are about to unfold in the not too distant future (2009).

19 people found this helpful

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  • Beloo
  • 17-10-03

As the World Turns...

This book presents a fresh and fascinating viewpoint of how the order and relationship of generations to one another bring about great and unexpected changes in our society. The thesis builds upon a previous study done by the authors in an earlier book entitled "Generations" and works to apply the theories advanced in that book to the conditions as we have them today. Far more than a book of shallow prognosication, it equips each of us with a new lens that can be used to see relationships and trends heretofore invisible. I recommend it for anyone with an interest in history who wishes to challenge their staid views of the past.

16 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Greg
  • 06-04-10

Outstanding

This is a great book. Though it was written in 1996 because of the accuracy of their predictions you would have thought it was written today (2010) in retrospect of the happenings of this past decade. It'll change the way you think about and see the things happening in America today.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Johanna
  • 04-05-10

The Fourth Turning

The most amazing book I have read. It explains so much about American Generations and how each one effects the other and the times we lived in and the times we will live in.
It predicted the Stock market crash of 2008 and the turmoil we are going through as a nation.
All our national politicians should read this.


Nomad 4 life!

7 people found this helpful

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  • Paul Murphy
  • 13-06-20

An interesting perspective.... But!

A little dark...but who said life was always going to be sweetness and light.

An industrious use of.... the concept of cycles in the life story of a society...

But! Metaphors wow.... it must be my autism I just couldn’t keep up...

My bad I’m sure...

Ok, you’ll get the concept.... but keeping track of all the metaphors well let's just say you really do need to be logistically minded.

Anyone interested in sociology... I’m sure will be gripped by the insight...

Some books I reread for finer detail...this one though...to try and understand all the metaphors.











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  • User
  • 31-08-20

A very intriguing listen!

I picked this up to help with my macro understanding of the markets. I guess we will have to wait 10 to 20 years to see if it pays off :)

I enjoyed this a lot, and will listen to it again around 2022

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 23-10-19

Stunningly Prescient

As with all books that predict the future, artistic license is needed. Food for thought.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lenny
  • 02-01-19

Just Awesome! No more words need said. Good read.

Everyone should read this. Simply stunning look at cyclical history. I wish I had read this at 16 as a last cohort Thirteener it would have served me well. We are now in the crisis times and to see Trump that dangerous Boomer mentioned, just creepy the prediction level. This can't be all life is... Amazing!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Peter Lawless
  • 01-01-18

phenomenal prescience from a book written in 1997

the authors accurately predict much of what came to pass in the 00's.. and give us deep insights in how to proceed, today 20 years after it was written and 10 years after the GFC

1 person found this helpful

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  • aletrave
  • 15-01-23

Makes sense, a bit too American

Good to hear about the old concept of saeculum and how it affects generations. It could have been pruned to be much shorter and concise

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  • Juris
  • 03-01-23

Amazing foresight of current state

A great book to understand current past and future events. A must read for anyone

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  • L. Stelea
  • 22-11-22

Bone-chilling

Found out about it through an article about the prediction they've made, largely accurate, if a bit too optimistic about the Millenials and unable to satisfy all the GenXrs (the most critical of the concept of generation, and of anything anyway). Hearing it (made in 1996) predict the post 2001-downturn and espectially the 2020 breaking point (with a lot of detail) gave me the chills. Of course, one could criticize the vagueness of it all, but it had high enough accuracy to be more than a mere prophecy. If people still listen to it now, it made its point. Certainly far better read than those pre-2020 books whose authors thought all was well and through technology we conquered wars and pandemics forever.

I can't give it 5 stars because it's abridged and I couldn't find an unabridged copy on any Audible service, but it doesn't deserve less than 4.

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  • Gavin Rowlands
  • 13-06-22

authors pls send me the winning lottery numbers

Wow. The timing was a little off by a few years. But America and the Western world is knocking at the door of the 4th turning.

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  • R Morris
  • 03-06-22

An insight into your own place in history

From a macro investing perspective it really provokes thoughts about the environment you might be investing in in relation to your own life stage. A credible depiction of human psychology and demographics where you will find countless moments where you can relate the theory to the real world, past present and future. At times the narration became a little difficult to follow as you try to envisage the timelines of the various archetypes but the summaries tended to bring it back together again. Great to get a book that challenges your natural perception and allows you to appreciate what you see happening around you at a deeper level. Much respect to the authors for their level of research and their accomplished decipher of such complex natural phenomena.

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  • quinton cunningham
  • 03-09-20

Incredible

More people need to read this, and the fact that so many are uninterested in even hearing about this stuff just resigns them to suffering the most during this crisis period.
The book written in 1997 suggests a 2004 initial crisis, 2020 climax, 2026 resolution. Give or take a few yrs. I recently listened to a Neil Howe interview and he suggests the initial crisis was the GFC 2008 and says the resolution may not be until 2030 now. So even as bad as 2020 is, it's possible this isn't even the climax yet. It's never a bad thing to be prepared, best of luck everyone x

5 people found this helpful

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  • Sean
  • 11-03-21

Eye-opening

Pretty much predicted within years what’s happening today. just wondering how bad it’s gonna get from year 2021 to 2026

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 24-03-20

Scary but fascinating!

These guys have Nostradamus covered by a country mile...riveting and incredible listening. Everything rings true.

1 person found this helpful

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  • James Dixon
  • 03-12-19

Old book - barely relevant

This book was written in 1997, barely relevant for 2019. That said it does discuss interesting information about generations and cycles. Their forecasts though are largely incorrect unless interpreted in the loosest way possible.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Luke Warm
  • 22-09-22

Great content, decent narration, tedious finish

Seldom failing to disappoint, Audible continues its reign as lazy conglomerate, with its horrible UX and lackadaisical approach to providing the listener with simple detail - information that the typical customer would expect to see come with their purchase, like chapter names, for example.

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  • Mark Yates
  • 30-08-22

most impactful book I've read in a decade

the book is still very relevant and it the predictions are eerily accurate. A must to understand the cycles we are doomed to repeat again and again

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  • David Kyngdon
  • 30-08-22

incredible , scary, inspiring

Incredible book that I could not stop listening to... back in the late 90's, the authors predicted that the 2020's were going to be tumultuous and potentially end with a devastating war.

And now (2022), it certainly feels that the highly polarised world will only resolve its issues with violence.

We may only be a short few years away from a devastating financial collapse and widespread suffering. Let's hope we stick together and rebuild society for the better....

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-09-21

wow! just wow! mind blown, eyes open.

wow! just wow! mind blown, eyes open. 7 words remaining. for words remaining. done

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  • Anonymous User
  • 18-02-21

it will blow your mind

loved it, very interesting to hear a book written in the 90's predict majority of things that are happening right now in 2020s.

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  • sonja
  • 03-01-19

A Favourite

A bit droning on to listen to at times but conceptually intriguing. Definitely worth a read if you enjoy abstract ideas that shape the way you view the world.