Customer Reviews


3 Reviews
5 star:
 (1)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enlightening - great reading !
This book provides a unique view of American history. It's a biography of generations, rather than a biography about an individual. The authors articulate how the past, and possibly the future, can be understood as a predictable, cyclical behavior.
There's an interesting parallel between this book and the sci-fi classic "Foundation", by Isaac Asmiov. In...
Published on 1 May 1997

versus
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Useful for political/consumer predictions?
Despite the generally rave reviews of "Generations...", I must admit that I was skeptical. I have found during several years of interdiscplinary historical research that certain basic events such as the invention of iron by primitive man or the steam engine or computers led to fundamental change in peoples' habits of thought and behavior as they struggle to...
Published on 21 Feb 1998


Most Helpful First | Newest First

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Useful for political/consumer predictions?, 21 Feb 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Generations (Paperback)
Despite the generally rave reviews of "Generations...", I must admit that I was skeptical. I have found during several years of interdiscplinary historical research that certain basic events such as the invention of iron by primitive man or the steam engine or computers led to fundamental change in peoples' habits of thought and behavior as they struggle to adapt to the cascading effects of these inventions. Strauss and Howe, on the other hand, tell us that four individual types of generations continually rotate through 90-odd year generational mindsets that are entirely independent of more basic historical events. They claim that understanding this pattern of generational repitition will allow us to predict the future (hence the subtitle, "the history of America's future, 1584 to 2069"). If true, the possibilities for forcasting trends in consumer preferences and political trends would be staggering. I had to give this book a chance despite its implausibility.

After a careful reading I remain unconvinced. First, whatever they may in fact be able to predict is so vague and general as to be practically worthless. In constructing their types, they specifically "strip away the cumulative shape of civilization that [each type] inherits from the past"; this effectively excludes just about anything we would want to know - like "affluence, technology, basic social mores and cultural norms, and established political institutions". Yet even at this level of generality, they confess their predictions will often not hold up ("...surely bring many surprises").

Second, the regularities they do find in the past are easily attributable to such factors as the boom/bust business cycle, wars, and technological inovations. For example, of the "Transcendental" generation (b. 1792-1821), they tell us that as adults they "felt nostalgia for their childhood". But this should come as no surprise since the prosperity they experienced as children was replaced in their adulthood by an economic bust period accompanied by the nation's first intense labor conflicts. While the authors seem to argue that the bust itself was caused by the mood of that generation, I know of no serious student of society that would find this argument convincing.

As a businessman or politician I would be very leary of using "Generations..." to predict anything useful. Other far less pretentious methods already exist that yield far more useful detail and accuracy. Example: Faith Popcorn's prediction that the "cacooning" would grow in popularity. Based on a fine tuned reading of the media of the early 90's and an implicit understanding of the demands of the new workplace, Cacooning became part of a dominant lifestyle. Hard, detailed, and intelligent work - not an overly general and unsubstantiated theory - produced a useful prediction. The Vals approach similarly produced useful results. Both reached five to ten years into the future, a reasonablely useful timespan.

(Note: for the full version of this review, contact me at cpalson@usa.net and/or cpalson@world.std.com)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enlightening - great reading !, 1 May 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Generations (Paperback)
This book provides a unique view of American history. It's a biography of generations, rather than a biography about an individual. The authors articulate how the past, and possibly the future, can be understood as a predictable, cyclical behavior.
There's an interesting parallel between this book and the sci-fi classic "Foundation", by Isaac Asmiov. In that trilogy, Hari Seldon, a [fictitious] psychohistorian, can predict how masses will respond to stimuli "with billiard-ball accuracy". Seldon cannot predict how a specific person will respond, but given a large enough population (in his case, a planet), Seldon could predict the nature and timing of an upcoming crisis period. Strauss and Howe apply similar psycohistorical analysis to American history.
If you liked Asimov's "Foundation", read this book. If you liked this book, read the "Foundation" trilogy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 19 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Generations (Paperback)
Generations is brilliant for the most part because evidence of it is littered all over America's pop culture. From song lyrics to dress styles, this book hits the nail on the head. The only reason I took off a star is because he hammers the point home too hard and he tries to stretch it. Yes, it may seem implausible at first, but it will convince you. It explains so many things. For one, it explains why the average fighting man of the civil war is never considered as heroic as a revolutionary fighter or a WWII soldier. Generations also explains completely the cynical and depressed nature of Generation X or the 13er Generation as Strauss and Howe call it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Generations
Generations by William Strauss (Paperback - 31 Dec 1998)
9.96
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews