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 HeadingWilliam Strauss And Neil Howe Posit The History Of America As A Succession Of Generational Biographies, Beginning In And Encompassing Everyone 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 MilleniumGenerations 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 There are only so many books in the world capable of revolutionizing the way one views people and trends Generations is one of these rare treasures This 538 page tome co authored by William Strauss and Neil Howe, lays the foundation of a fascinating theory about generational, social, and political patterns and trends in the United States.Howe and Strauss argue that since its inception, the United States has seen four repeating generational cohorts which are labeled as Idealists, Reactives, Civics, and Adaptives These generations have exhibited predictable cycles with one exception during the Civil War and have made unique impacts on the country s politics, society, culture, laws, and diplomatic relations.So far as I am concerned, Generations is mandatory reading for anyone interested in trend research I have often been of the opinion that we can learn a great deal about future developments by looking at patterns in history With Generations, Strauss and Howe have done the pattern recognition for us, and present a beautiful framework which can be utilized to make significant and useful predictions about future trends in advertising, product design, investing, politics, and a litany of other fields. There are several aspects of this book to review Writing style a bit dry This is forgivable the authors are laying out a hypothesis that covers almost 500 years of American history, and they want to make sure you ve got all their evidence I figure the book could ve been tightened up, but I guess it s better they erred on the side of too much explanation rather than not enough.The generational theory plausible and fascinating The authors summarize the history of 14 generations of Americans, showing how each generation fits into a cycle of four types and how these types interact At the same time, they detail how American history alternates between spiritual awakenings and crises that usually hit at predictable intervals It takes a while to get through this part of the book, but it s interesting to see the patterns develop.The predictions some hits, some misses By now, 17 years after first publication, there s been time to see if the authors theories would hold up They ve been doing better at cultural trends rather than events I don t place the alienating event they thought would hit in the 1990s, but they did a fine job of describing the culture of helicopter parents years before that became a catchphrase Still, it s hard to watch the economy crash, hear about environmental problems settling in, catch the news on the latest terrorist attack, and not think of their predicted Crisis of 2020, or less on schedule.The book will take time to get through and you could skim parts of it , but there are worse ways to spend your free time. Ok, about this book, I m cultish Inside its pages are all the truths one needs to understand history, time and how it changes Seriously I am an ardent believer in this generational history theory I see it every single day.Take the current presidential race Obama s camp figured out at the beginning how to fuel change grab the Millenials loyalty by branding Obama as cool and one of them Millenials generation is 1982 2000 approximately GenX 1961 1981 soon followed suit, as they do tend to do, especially if Oprah says to do it Con job Oh, yes, but hey, nothing s off limits in politics Together, these two generations, without knowing much at all about what Obama really stands for, are fixing to decide the Presidency, unless the old farts Boomers 1943 1960, and Silents 1925 1942 can stop them Personally, either way the election goes, I think we are about to elect the next Hoover And incidentally, Hoover got a huge youth vote in 1928, on account of his humanitarian food work after WWI Sometimes, the young just have to learn the hard way and if they elect Obama, they will learn a hard lesson And that s why I looooove this book It s a long, complicated and very much history like read, which is why a lot of younger people will not read it, but it s so worth it, once the theory finally settles in your brain intact. This is one of the most fascinating theories I have ever read and considered Can the cycles of history be predicted in broad brush strokes, of course by the general character traits displayed by the elderly, the middle aged, the young adults and the children of each generational cycle The authors suggest that, yes, somewhat accurate predictions can be made.The rest is a very intriguing look at American history and the people who have played a role in this history at various points in their livesthe crusading Wobblies and Vietnam War protestors, the GIs during WWII, the Jazz Babies and Doughboys that came before themand even the disaffected Clerks of today all employ different methods for dealing with the events of their life spans and develop various generational emotional responses and styles.Critics will always point to the people they know or themselves as atypical of the stereotypes of their cohort group Certainly all people are individuals and it is unsettling to think one can be locked into a set of circumstances merely by the accident of when you were born However, there are some arguments put forth in Generations that compel the reader to at least consider the circle of cause and effect outlined within the pages.As a hypothetical illustration, I ll go with the image of the clerk figureImagine 4 young men or women working a low status and low pay clerk job in a shop.The youth of the Depression WWII years would merely look at it as a joblucky to have anything during hard times The money would probably go toward helping their family with essentials like food and heat They would make the most of it, be unconcerned with status or career path and probably still find ways to save a portion of their paltry income.The youth of the immediate post war years would take the job out of a sense of responsibility They would take solace in the fact that they would probably not be clerking in 5 years as other and better opportunities arose They might use some of their income toward college tuition and be the first in their families to take this leap They would even look back fondly on their first jobs as a last period of relative freedom before assuming the mantle of adult worries.The boomer youth may not really have to work However, their GI and older parents want them to learn the value of earning their own money The boomers might spend a larger chunk of their income on themselves for entertainment The boomers would not see this period of low status work as permanent They might use periods like this to consider what they really want to do with their lives and plan ahead They might also drop back in to lower status work from time to time if they get disillusioned with school or some other occupational training The Gen X youth may have grown up with the sense that they would not have to work at this kind of job at all However, their rising adulthood presents a period of shifting back down the economic scale They may initially take the low pay low status job as a temporary fix and be surprised and disappointed to find themselves staying in the job longer than expected, with fewer outside opportunities than expected They may not be conditioned to save as much money as they should and go into debt as they fail to come to terms with the fact that they will have less leisure time and discretionary income than the generations immediately before them However, they will also have the wherewithall to piece together part time jobs if needed.It is amusing to think about this book after the fact and plug in your own life experiences and observations It is also unnerving, as these dismal times we are living now were predicted in the early 90s within the pages of Generations. Howe Strauss present a very interesting and useful theory about how generations are different and what makes them so It is called the generational archetype of four different generational types which follow one another in a repeating order Idealist, Reactive, Civic, and Adaptive There are two divisions in the generations Dominant idealist civic Recessive reactive and adaptive The dominant generations follow from a spiritual awakening idealists or from a secular crisis civics The recessive generations follow from an inner driven era reactives or an outer driven era adaptives which relate to how the awakening or crises resolve themselves Awakenings result in inner driven eras pushing back against social change, and outer driven eras follow from crises to protect social changes In response to the conditions of the previous dominant generation come a reaction to crisis or awakening The reaction following a crisis period by the recessive adaptive generation is of maintenance of the social order, an outer driven era The response to a spiritual awakening is cynicism and social fragmentation and polarization, which for the resulting Reactive generation means an inner driven era to separate from the social order Dominant Civic secular crisisIdealist spiritual awakeningRecessive Adaptive outer driven eraReactive inner driven eraThis book is written to apply to the United States, beginning in 1584 The authors claim this is because generations matter in the US than they have in the old world, given that the US was the first modern small l liberal and small r republican government, rather than being ruled by kings and nobles in which a child, Louis XIV of France, could ascend the throne and not reflect the current adult generation As countries become democratic and capitalist, the archetype should become apparent in the culture Something to consider is that being a dominant generation as opposed to recessive doesn t make the generation inherently better, and not necessarily a cause of their own conditions They are dominant because of a crisis or awakening and what they do strongly influences the future social order Leaders of the social revolutions of the sixties were mostly older than boomers, often of the silent generation, and the boomers normalized their goals into public life with both good and bad results The progressive generation saw women gain the right to vote, but also the failure of the treaty of Versailles They were followed by the reactive Lost Generation of the interwar era, before the civic Greatest Generation dealt with the crises from this era It seems to be the case that dominant generations give birth or at least influence the next dominant generation, and recessive generations give birth and or influence the next recessive generation An idealist generation comes from a civic generation, and the next civic generation comes from an idealist generation Idealist Civic Idealist CivicAdaptive Reactive Adaptive ReactiveThe generation which influences you the most, your parents, seems to skip a cycle to maintain the dominant recessive chain These four types complete a cycle of roughly 90 years the authors call a saeculum, almost a century.Over the twentieth century the cycle went Civic the greatest generation 1910 1924 Adaptive the silent generation 1925 1942 Idealist the baby boom generation 1943 1960 Reactive generation x 1961 1981 The start and end points are somewhat vague for generations as they are defined as a cohort over a period of time shaped by major social events relating to secular crises and spiritual awakenings and their aftermath The greatest generation, the authors call them the GI generation, was defined by coming of age in the Great Depression and service in World War II, which were secular crises, so their cohort would be those old enough to have lived in the depression but young enough to be young adults during the war.The silent generation was mostly too young to serve in World War II and were young adults by the Korean War of the early 1950s and the Eisenhower administration This cohort came of age in the aftermath secular crises of war and economic depression and and abided by the postwar consensus Their recessive attitude was oriented outward to defend the consensus The baby boomer generation came of age in the 1960s and agitated against the social consensus put into place by the GI s Their spiritual awakening took place as young adults during the Vietnam war and the civil rights era Generation x, the authors call them 13ers, grew up after the idealism of the 60s turned into the excess and disillusionment of the 1970s Rising crime and stagflation instilled a cynical attitudes towards institutions and the idealism of the previous generation This generation withdrew to inner life as the 80s and 90s saw a return to economic growth and social stability And the cycle begins again with the millennial generation 1982 1998 which is predicted by Howe and Strauss in 1991 to be a civic generation Though it s not agreed what exact years make the millennial generation, I define the cohort as becoming an adult sometime before the end of the Obama presidency, 2016, but not before the year 2000, the millennium The early millennials are born from the baby boomer idealist generation Millennials grow up during the economic prosperity of the 80 s and 90 s, the end of the Cold War, and into the culture wars fought by the boomers Millennials come of age after 9 11 and with economic challenges following the end of the 90s tech boom and the worldwide 2008 Great Recession This is similar to the upbringing of the GI Generation in the 1920s prosperity and culture wars which was followed by the Great Depression and World War II Millennials are for Howe and Strauss the turning of the saeculum who will like the GI s define their century, the twenty first As for the next generation after the millennials, whatever they will be called, Howe Strauss theory predicts an adaptive generation to come next born in the 21st century and fully immersed in the Internet, social media, and the post 9 11 order Whatever order millennials come up with, the next generation will probably work within and maintain it.I think the generational archetype is a useful way for understanding history and even making predictions It seems Jungian to me, not just in the use of archetypes but how dominant and recessive relate to Jung s anima and animus the extrovert introvert, masculine feminine, and active passive side of all our our natures People will deride the generational archetype as unfalsifiable just as they would Jung s psychology, but its popularity and influence is as wide as Jung is in his field. I read the 1991 edition of this book meaning it came out when I was one of those little Millennials, not really in the scenes of society We were just children raised in a protected and loving homes I have to say some of the predictions were a bit kooky but there were a few were spot on I do see my generation team oriented, community based folks while many of us do get along with our Boomer aged parents It s fun to read about our American history in a different lens through generations and their cycles I learned things that I didn t learn in history and Social studies classes in my youth For example, the southern Adaptive Compromisers b 1767 91 wanted to abolished slavery and they had antislavery societies to plan a way to wean the South of slaves but they lost power when their next juniors, Transcendental Idealists came into power For years I have been taught that the Southerns before and during the Civil War years loved having slaves to stay with their bourgeois lifestyles Then there were things I didn t understand since I didn t have background knowledge This book took me days to read through but I will have to reread to understand it Through the first read, I enjoy seeing the patterns of each generational cycles As a Millenial, I have been influenced by my elders GI, Silent, Boomers and Gen Xers I feel I got the social justice bug, first by the Silent generation elders one of them was my former 4th grade teacher and was encouraged by the Boomer and Gen Xer teachers and older adults Did you know that there hasn t any US presidents from the Silent Generation b 1925 43 meaning it s the first time we skipped a generation as a president since we first became a nation over 300 years ago I think a couple of them were VPs with a GI or Boomer aged US presidents Personally I would love to vote in a US president from the Silent Generation youngest is age 70 this year since their strengths are pluralism, expertise, social justice and tolerance Of course this president should have a mix of Silent, Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millenianls the oldest of us at age 31 this year as part of the president cabinet and White House staff to get a good balance approach in creating an amazing system of the 21st century and hopefully beyond Hmm, after reading this book it makes me want to befriend the surviving GIs and elderly Silents so I can learn as much as I can before they disappear from our living history and into just history How many Millenials out there enjoy reflecting about generations and ours specifically Sometimes I feel like I can relate with my elders better than my own generation Plus I do get along with the younger generation, the new Adaptives no cool nickname yet since right now I am in the educational field Wow, it ll be weird to see the first wave Millennials as middle age in the next decade But already I have some peers who became parents at an early age so they are raising the new Adaptive kids Though I knew a couple same age peers who became first time parents at age 18 so they are raising the youngest of us Millenials I m probably be one of those Millenial who would get married and have children at an older age following the Gen Xers so my kids will be the new Idealists They will remind me of my own parents and my friends parents Crazy, huh The book explicitly states a desire to risk predicting future trends, so that readers of the future could easily judge his theories for their pragmatic worth Fifteen years after publication, confirmation of this book s concepts can be found in both the macro environment of world events and the microcosm of the thoughtful reader s own web of social interactions with parents, coworkers, peers and children The book s thesis is that American history follows a near century long cycle of four generational archetypes secular builders, spiritual seekers, pragmatic rebels and refined curators The living examples of these types are the G.I generation who fought in WWII, the Boomers, Generation X , and the silent generation born too late to fight with the GIs and too early to uh frolic with the Boomers The book takes us on an tour of American history, highlighting the interplay between the historical forces shaping each generation in their youth, and how each generation makes their stamp on history as adults It s a compelling argument, in that he illustrates how that generation s impact sets the stage for the generations following, perpetuating the cycle The story is well told and insightful I am no scholar of history, but there is an intensely believable intellectual honesty A significant deviation in the pattern appears at the time of the Civil War, but rather than shoehorn the facts to fit their pattern, the authors concede the disruption, analyze the situation, and present an explanation that rings true indeed, that echoes into the present day Here are just two simple predictions from the book written in 1990 91, published in 92 American presidential leadership skipping over the Silent generation, from the greatest generation GIs to the Boomer generation Bush I to Clinton A secular crisis in the first decade of the millennium and the potentially disastrous results if that happened too early in the decade, when crusading Boomers were in charge, but pragmatic yes, I said pragmatic Xers were not yet influential enough to effect the implementation of policy Written before the Internet, before the Clinton presidency, before Generation X was even named Douglas Coupland s book came out contemporaneously, so the authors call Xers 13ers , acknowledging that their culturally accepted name will likely be different Generations A History of America s Future, 1584 2069 should be read by anyone looking for an insightful, well researched sociological study with a futurist slant Deep without resorting to cryptic conspiracy theory, Strauss Howe s work is a page turning read which could improve both our political decisions and our family relations. In the tradition of Arthur Schlesinger Jr idea of cycles of American history Strauss has a cycle of US history grounded in generational cycles According to Strauss and By my calendar there are four Generations on the stage at present older Silent Generation adaptive that was conformist company men who followed orders and kept their heads down, Boomers idealists spiritual souls, inner directed dreamers yet so full of themselves , 13th generation or Gen Xers as we are called these days pragmatic, anomic risk takers, who don t seem to give a damn about anything reactives yet somewhat pragmatic, and the rising Millenials which are probably going to be a Civic Generation like their WWII grandparents According to this wooly yet intriguing idea America cycles through four types of Generations Civic, Adaptive, Idealist, Reactive The Civics are WWII Generation JFK and Reagan and supposedly the millenials TBA , the Adaptive are The Silent Generation MLK and Gloria Steinem , Boomer Generation is Idealist Bill Gates and Steve Jobs , and Gen X is Reactive Jodie Foster and Sergei Brin These generation These generations cycle through american history like a sine wave of over and under cared for children grow up to risk averse or risk seeking , inner directed or outer directed loop the loops of generational swings Gen Xers are like lost generations of Hemingway s time adventurers and lost souls, Boomers are Idealists like the revolutionary and great awakening generations of Jefferson, Silent Generation Are like Progressive Generation of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Whether this four part pinwheel is a genuine pattern of history or a shoehorned narrative around a neat and tidy idea is hard to tell It seems to make intuitive sense but it could also be another just so story Fun to read nonetheless. This is a fascinating way to learn history It makes the history of the US very tangible I am still deciding the extent to which history is shaped by the characteristics of the generation in charge There are some revolutionary implications here.
Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069 book, this is one of the most wanted William Strauss author readers around the world.
- 544 pages
- Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069
- William Strauss
- 08 October 2019 William Strauss