Nov 18, 2016 | During the 1990s, two amateur historians, Neil Howe and the late William Strauss, developed a new theory of American history in two books, Generations: the History of America’s Future (1991), and The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy (1997). They identified an 80-year cycle in American history, punctuated by great crises that destroyed an old order and created a new one.
Though their theory is not widely taught in colleges or discussed in the media, Strauss and Howe may well play a major role in Donald Trump's administration. Stephen Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News who has been appointed Trump’s chief strategist in the White House, is very familiar with Strauss and Howe’s theory of crisis, and has been thinking about how to use it to achieve particular goals for quite a while. I know this because Bannon interviewed both Neil Howe and myself in 2009 while he was making a documentary film about the ongoing financial crisis. The film, called Generation Zero, discussed those ideas in some detail.
David Kaiser, a historian, has taught at Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, Williams College, and the Naval War College. He is the author of seven books, including, most recently, No End Save Victory: How FDR Led the Nation into War.
Greenpeace protesters unfurl a banner that reads "Resist" at the construction site of the former Washington Post building, near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, January 25, 2017. (AP Photo / Andrew Harnik)
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