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

George Friedman. Doubleday, $30 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-54049-0
The vitriol of the Trump era masks crises in our economy and governing institutions that will deepen before resolving themselves, according to this probing and ultimately hopeful diagnosis of America’s discontents. Friedman (The Next 100 Years), chairman of the forecasting organization Geopolitical Futures, argues that the country is ending the third installment of a recurring 80-year cycle of stress and reform in the federal government—the first ended when the Civil War established federal supremacy over states, the second when the New Deal and WWII cemented federal control over the economy; the third has been caused by a federal bureaucracy too “vast” and tangled to solve problems—and the turn of a 50-year economic cycle currently dominated by investor-friendly economics. These coinciding cycles, he contends, will cause upheaval in the 2020s before the 2030s stabilize around a new regime of efficient government and a fairer economy. Though Friedman’s cycles feel artificial and his prophecies Nostradamian (“In 2024 a new president will emerge who represents the values of the declining era”), they frame cogent analyses of America’s dysfunctions, including the demoralizing decline of middle-class incomes and working-class whites’ resentment of an arrogant ruling technocracy formed by elite universities they can’t get into. Crystal ball-gazing aside, Friedman offers a lucid, stimulating assessment of which way the wind is blowing. Agent: Jim Hornfischer, Hornfischer Literary Management. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 12/06/2019
Release date: 02/25/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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