Review: The Fourth Turning by William Strauss & Neil Howe

The Fourth TurningThe Fourth Turning by William Strauss & Neil Howe

I believe that reading and subsequently learning, is a vital step toward self-improvement. Reading challenges what we already think we know. It opens the world to you; new people, new places, new ways of doing things. Reading sparks that internal conversation that you have. My journey was precipitated by being gifted Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. It challenged the way I had viewed my personal finances and the lack of self-control I exhibited in many other daily habits. That is why I have made reading such a big part of my life and set certain goals to achieve. I want to share with you what I am reading so that maybe one of the books I review can have that same effect on you.


I was first introduced to The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe through a post of Art of Manliness titled: The Generations of Men: How the Cycles of History Shape Your Values, Your Idea of Manhood, and Your Future. I was immediately intrigued by the idea of the generational cycles and started listening to the book that week. I was not disappointed. I was more than halfway through the book when I decided to start over with my wife listening too on a long car ride we had planned.

The first thing I noticed while listening to The Fourth Turning was how it seemed like the authors were describing current events. I checked the copyright and it was 1997. This is not to say that the authors were predicting anything specific, they state as much that the coming crisis could take a variety of forms. I’m sure every generation thinks that the current events of their day are dramatic and could lead to disaster. That being said, this book came out before 9/11, Two subsequent wars, 2008 Financial Crash, and the very current rise of statists/populists. It seems like things are coming to a boiling point. Being a millennial that means I am of age that my generation will likely have to deal with it’s ramifications for the rest of my life.

The most recent cyclical comparison that the book makes is America’s Greatest Generation or the GI Generation. This idea seems laughable on the service to compare Generation Snowflake to the generation that endured the Great Depression and fought in World War 2. The idea that Millennials are; to put it quite frankly, p#ssies is so pervasive that there is an endless supply of magazine articles and newspaper editorials on the subject. Keep in mind though that this is the same media forms that make it seem like every time you jump into the ocean, that you will be attacked by a shark. Maybe the media sensationalism regarding Millennials is the same.

This was brought up during a dinner I was having with my parents (they are in between Silents and Boomers). I replied with a point Howe and Strauss make, “Nobody thought the Greatest Generation wad the Greatest Generation until decades later.” Howe and Strauss also make the point that not all crises have the absolute same severity, but they are crises none-the-less. Only time will tell if Millennials do in fact rise the the level of “Hero Generation” as ascribed in The Fourth Turning. I’m trying to do my part by working on myself first. Get less fat, pay off debt, save more, learn how to do things, fix things and care for the older generations.

This past weekend, pulling into the mall I saw an elderly man standing by his car with the muffler clearly laying on the ground. Jessica stated what I was already thinking, that I needed to help him. Jessica and our daughter went into the mall while I asked him if he had called for service yet. He had not, he was hoping that security would be driving around and flag them. See he had just gotten a new Iphone and didn’t even know how to dial a number yet alone search for the nearest service station. He was driving to the mall to visit the Apple Store tNeil Howeo get directions on how to use said phone (poor bastards), when he went over a speed bump and the muffler dropped. After calling multiple service centers, nobody was able to come out to help him. I didn’t have any tools with me so I drove to one of those service centers, grabbed a wire hanger and returned. To my surprise, nobody else had stopped to help. He was sitting in a wide open area at an entrance in which his was the only car. I got under the car, reattached the muffler and gave him directions to the shop. Millennials for the win.

I highly recommend The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe; especially is you are a Millennial. You can find more information on Wikipedia about the theory here. Neil Howe’s twitter handle @howegeneration. Here is their site:

I listened to this book using Audible. I try to use Overdrive (which links your local public library with your electronic devices for free) for most books. This is my go to method for listening to audio books. If an audio book is not available of Overdrive, then I turn to Audible. Audible has a much larger selection, but does have a membership fee. Well worth it in my opinion.

Author: David Matthews

Welcome to my site!

I started this site as a way of discussing what I’ve learned about the relationship between personal finances and physical fitness. What I have learned allowed me to lose 50lbs and improve my creditscore 150 points in the same year.

Husband. Father. West Virginia University Grad. Licensed Insurance and Financial Professional. Sports fan (Phila, WVU, and Manchester City). Huge nerd (like Magic: The Gathering huge)

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