This a book of prophecy that blends Anglo-American history with the theory that time is cyclic in nature. The cyclical nature of time is depicted by the authors as a recurrence of a four-generation repeating pattern of 'turnings':
1. A war or crisis occurs because society is ill
2. With the crisis resolved, society emerges from chaos into stability and order
3. Stifling order gives rise to a social awakening
4. The social awakening weakens society's structure and institutions, causing an all-consuming unraveling that leads back to #1.
Each 'generation' takes about one quarter of a 'long human life', or about 20-25 years. I'll give you one guess where the authors thought we were in 1996, when the book was written.
They're not just talking about the Consciousness Revolution of the 60's and 70's, and the general slide into amoral, impoverished, and destructive rudderlessness that's seemed to plague the 'Anglosphere' during the whole course of my lifetime while we burn off the planet's resources and poison the place. They point to all of the times that it's happened before. And it's happened before.
And there's the grim future that the authors have laid out before us. Spelling it out with a fair degree of accuracy (as the intervening 17 years have shown), the authors essentially point out that those of us in the 'generation' born between 1961 and 1981 will relive what my paternal grandparents went through. Which is: get caught in the war/crisis end of the cycle, going broke in the process and losing everything that we've built over a lifetime. And then to emerge in an impoverished society that has to rebuild from the ashes. In other words, a) eat drink and be merry, and b) prepare for decades of hardship.
None of this really came as a surprise to me, I have to say. It's been hard to miss "the general slide into amoral, impoverished, and destructive rudderlessness that's seemed to plague the 'Anglosphere' during the whole course of my lifetime while we burn off the planet's resources and poison the place" that I mentioned above. If it's going to take a war to fix the current situation, it wouldn't surprise me one bit.