cover image The Fourth Turning

The Fourth Turning

William Strauss. Broadway Books, $27.5 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-553-06682-1

Expanding on the cyclical view of history set forth in their bestsellers Generations: The History of America's Future and 13th-GEN, Strauss and Howe focus on the three ""turnings,"" or recurring 20-year generational periods, that have supposedly marked the post-WWII era-and on the fourth, pivotal ""Crisis"" period that will begin, by their reckoning, around 2005. Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy, we learn, presided over the first postwar turning, an ""upbeat"" time of orderly suburbia, conformity and nascent rebellion. The second turning, an ""Awakening"" that began around JFK's assassination, brought a ""consciousness revolution,"" tax revolts, hostility to authority. Americans turned cynical and voters split ideologically in the ""Unraveling,"" the third turning, as Reagan-era yuppie greed gave way to national drift and civic decay. The fourth turning, the ""Crisis,"" could see dangerous demagogues, civil violence and war, but it will also usher in a new communitarianism. The authors' simplistic framework makes newspaper astrology look like a pure science. The book's appeal lies in the way they link an all-embracing theory of history to current strivings for self-actualization and to the average person's desire for peace and prosperity. Author tour. (Feb.)