Item description for Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069 by Neil Howe & William Strauss...
Overview Now available in paperback is one of the most talked about books of the past year. Hailed by Senator Albert Gore as "the most stimulating and politically relevant book on American history that I have ever read", Generations has been heralded by public figures and reviewers as a brilliant, if somewhat unsettling, reassessment of where America is heading.
Hailed by national leaders as politically diverse as former Vice President Al Gore and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Generations has been heralded by reviewers as a brilliant, if somewhat unsettling, reassessment of where America is heading.
William Strauss and Neil Howe posit the history of America as a succession of generational biographies, beginning in 1584 and encompassing every-one through the children of today. Their bold theory is that each generation belongs to one of four types, and that these types repeat sequentially in a fixed pattern. The vision of Generations allows us to plot a recurring cycle in American history -- a cycle of spiritual awakenings and secular crises -- from the founding colonists through the present day and well into this millenium.
Generations is at once a refreshing historical narrative and a thrilling intuitive leap that reorders not only our history books but also our expectations for the twenty-first century.
Citations And Professional Reviews Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069 by Neil Howe & William Strauss has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Publishers Weekly - 07/13/1992
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More About Neil Howe & William Strauss
Neil Howe and William Strauss are the authors of Generations, 13th Gen, and The Fourth Turning.They live in McLean, Virginia."
Neil Howe currently resides in Great Falls, in the state of Virginia.
Reviews - What do customers think about Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069?
Generations Mar 27, 2008
In graduate school, an instructor once told me historians are the sociologists of yesterday. Reading this book convinced me how inaccurate this statement is. Sociologists should never attempt to write history because they haven't got a clue what they are writing about.
This book has potential and some plausible theses presented, but it just never clicked with me. First, they define the "Baby Boom" as those born between 1943 and 1960, and they seemed proud of their inclusion of the birth years 1943/4 into this group. I was born in 1961 and have never identified with the "Thirteenth" (what most now call "Gen X") generation. Most other sources extend the Baby Boom through 1964 and I agree that people born between 1961-4 have distinct beliefs and values that place them with the boomers and not the Xers.
Other reviewers of this book marvel at the authors' ability to predict the future. Hogwash. All they did was analyze the past and look for trends that repeat. This is nothing new. Market analysts and weathermen have been doing this for years (and getting it right less than 50% of the time). The four generational cycles, Idealist, Reactive, Civic, and Adaptive may reappear throughout history, but the circumstances of each make each generation more or less unique to itself. I look at my teenage children and see them disillusioned with school and the future. Thirty years ago I felt the same way. I look at my kids with trepidation as did my parents look at me. Are these generational traits or commonalities all teenagers and their parents go through. Unfortunately we all get to experience each of life's phases once so it is hard to say if the sentiments are always the same or not. We can only conclude from experience that they are.
I also found it odd that the historical evidence presented expanded greatly when these two authors started talking about those generations live (at the time they wrote this book) so they could actually talk with real life representatives of each generation. This is a sign of sociology, not history. A real historian would have top loaded the earlier generations based on evidence from primary sources. This book just didn't impress me with its historical presentations.
The truth is I just got bored with reading this book. I tried to give it a fair shake, but it just did not hit home with what I would have though a book like this would do for me. To me it doesn't predict the future at all. It offers some possibilities, but the authors themselves only entered question marks when they described the Millenial generation as "Civic." Maybe they will adapt civic traits, maybe they won't. Maybe the stock market will be up tomorrow, maybe it won't. Does it really matter?
Major hit after all these years!!! Jan 17, 2008
Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069 I read this book fifteen years ago, and have recommended it to a huge number of people since then. I've the opportunity to view changes in history with the overview they provided so long ago--and their model always fits!! They provide the theory, and then go through each generation, showing how it fits. I refuse to lend anyone this book!! Get your own!
This analytical historical model holds up well 16 years later. Sep 18, 2007
I think Strauss and Howe are on to something. Remember we are in the realm of social sciences, and no analytical model is ever 100% correct; if you reach 60% that's good. I think Howe and Strauss cleared this hurdle by a wide margin. I support my opinion on the following considerations.
First, based on all the different generations I have met so far the Strauss and Howe model fits well. The G.I., Boomers, Thirteenth (Generation X), and Millennials (Generation Y) are well captured. The principal callings of various generations as described on page 367 and principal endowment activities on page 371 seem accurate.
Second, this book was first published 16 years ago. And, the analysis has held up well with the passage of time. Part III of the book describes the future (post 1991). You obviously can pick errors. But, overall they got it right. Some of their calls are prescient. Such as: "... by the year 2000, midlife women will surge into boardrooms, media anchor booths, university presidencies, and Congress-and will begin making plausible runs for the White House." And, "... the Boom may split along geographical lines-for example, with urban, bicoastal New Agers squaring off against heartland evangelicals." Also, "... to elder Boomers, `retirement' will... be of little consequence. The very concept of a fixed retirement age will blur, late-in-life career changes will be encouraged." And, "Great peril might arise if Boomers find themselves confronting religious fundamentalists whose inner zeal matches their own... Make no mistake: faced with crisis, this generation [Boomer] of onetime draft resisters will not hesitate, as elder warrior-priests, to conscript young soldiers to fight and die for righteous purpose... As Boomers begin endorsing global crusades, the 13ers [Gen X] will turn toward isolationism." Remember all these statements were written in 1991. They demonstrate foresight that is way beyond luck.
Third, their generational cycle model has several well established precedents ranging from Homer to contemporary social scientists including one nearly identical one by Samuel Huntington, my favorite political scientist, who wrote the equally seminal The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.
I liked this book for many other reasons too. Appendix A that describes in much detail their whole theory of generational-historical cycle is fascinating. Additionally, as a byproduct I have learned a whole lot about American history. Their model does a good job of explaining Americans ability for self-renewal that is way more pronounced than for Europeans and Asians. The authors state this is because other cultures are much more constrained by the weight of tradition. Having lived in both Europe and the U.S., I do agree.
If you enjoy this book, I also recommend Carroll Quigley Evolution of Civilizations. This author shows that entire civilizations follow a defined life cycle.
Is this the beginning of Asimov's "psychohistory" from his Foundation series? Feb 1, 2007
Reading this book in 2007, the accuracy of the predictions covering the past decade and a half, since it was written, is amazing and scary. Asimov's "psychohistory" came to mind, but that reference is a mere tangent to the importance of this book and theory. Strauss and Howe have organized human history into a recurring predictable cycle. The way I read it, they predict the next rendezvous with destiny to be in about fifteen years, give or take a few years. That means the current and next president should be well out of power. Thank God, because in their hands will be the fortune of an entire generational history. Be forewarned, reading this book may completely reorganize your previous concepts of history. What will be the impact of this knowlege on their theory itself and history? Time will tell.
Gets better with age... Nov 10, 2006
This was a readable, insightful book when it was published apx 15 years ago, and it has stood up remarkably well since. So long as you don't read it in a deterministic manner, it is filled with perspectives which will challenge everyone from demographers to political scientists and operatives, as well as marketers.