1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars
Interesting, but flawed, Feb. 5 2002
Though there is an element of probable truth in what Strauss & Howe have written here, and certainly mankind's recorded experiences have been one of cyclical ebb and flow with a thankfully upward bias, I don't believe one can make anywhere near the pat characterizations and conclusive leaps found here. On the other hand, if intended as a work of propaganda, the vehicle is perfect, for all good propaganda contains enough of an element of probable truth to be plausible.
My biggest gripe is that most everything in this book is arranged and written with the assumption that their thesis is essentially correct, a mode I find overreaching, suspect, and at best sloppy. In other words, past and present are bent, filtered, crammed, and cajoled to fit a simplistic, "four generational archetypes" thesis, whether this has been supported by the breadth and depth of reality or not. Strauss & Howe have a much easier time with the future, as it is (obviously) much more malleable.
One glaring gloss-over is the assertion that this "unraveling" period is the "age of the individual", which I find totally laughable. And now, using their pat model, they conveniently "predict" that we will all become much more collective, as is both our "duty" & "destiny". I find the wholesale grading & categorization of people facile, diminishing, and overly fatalistic. On the other hand, this book is an oligarchic collectivist's wet dream. The authors' warning to the future is not that we are but mindless automatons, locked in an endless and stupid cycle of mass destruction by following our collectivist predestination at this juncture, but that we might "fail" in this respect, and then woe is to us. Right. Your stock false choice if there ever was one.
Either these guys are commissioned to write this stuff, or they have a more than adequate knack for figuring out which way the wind is blowing and sucking up to it for fun and profit. In any event, with the way events now appear to be evolving, they'll likely turn out being "right". Definitely worth a read, but one best take the ring out of one's nose before starting in.
As you read this book, here's something to consider, a quote from Hilter's Reichsmarshall, Hermann Goering:
"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."