Have you ever felt like things in America can’t get any worse politically or socio-economically? Do you feel that what you are seeing is the beginning of the end of America? Perhaps you have even wondered whether America is soon heading for a break-up like the former Soviet Union? Well, I have a book for you.
Over the past decade, the above questions have repeatedly haunted me and I have tried to read as much as I can to understand contemporary politics and the challenges which a changing demographic here and abroad presents to our country. The pickings are slim though because it is difficult these days to find nonfiction books about the government and economy that don’t already have a partisan slant baked in. Fortunately, I recently stumbled upon The Storm Before the Calm: America's Discord, the Coming Crisis of the 2020s, and the Triumph Beyond by George Friedman.
This book caught my eye as I was flipping through book recommendations on my Kindle.
Amazon in one line succinctly presents Mr. Friedman and The Storm Before the Calm as: “The master geopolitical forecaster and New York Times bestselling author of The Next 100 Years focuses on the United States, predicting how the 2020s will bring dramatic upheaval and reshaping of American government, foreign policy, economics, and culture.”
The author, Mr. Friedman, is well-respected thinker of our time who looks for logic governing the trends in national and international geopolitics. His predictions have earned him recognition for decades first as the founder of Statfor and most recently at his new endeavor, Geopolitical Futures. Mr. Friedman is also the best-selling author of the book The Next 100 Years (2009).
Attracted by both the title and Mr. Freidman’s background, I never expected though to find a book with a nonpartisan and unbiased perspective on past and present American history. The author even has the ability to step outside today’s divisive politics and offer insight in a logical and reasoned way. Mr. Friedman also has the unique ability to look at the big picture, tease out trends and cycles, and use these to make logical forecasts about America’s future. And much to my delight, America’s future isn’t as bad as I thought.
The book begins with Mr. Friedman discussing our country’s foundation as being invented as opposed to inherited. This argues that our country’s unique beginning has set the tone for our growth and development over the centuries. We are an inventive people, flexible and resilient. He also sees that there are two major cycles in US history: institutional and socio-economic. These two cycles have been on a different synchronicity for a long time but are about to collide in the 2020’s with a major undercurrent being student debt, our bloated college and university system, growing income inequality, and the unrealistic expectations people have that our federal government will fix it all. Although the storm that Mr. Friedman predicts will result in an upheaval, he optimistically forecasts that we will reinvent ourselves to become more independent of the federal government and ultimately a stronger nation.
As Mr. Friedman says, “America is a country in which the storm is essential to clear the way for the calm.”
The Storm Before the Calm was released just before the Covid-19 pandemic. Given all that has transpired, I can’t help but wonder how it would alter Mr. Friedman’s predictions. It seems to only have highlighted the frustrations which have built up in America during our post-Roosevelt reliance on government to fix problems, as the government shows year after year that it is unable to adequately address societal issues because our federal bureaucracy has grown too much in complexity.
If you like history and can stand to read a book that doesn’t point political fingers or assign blame, I highly recommend this book. At the very least, you will find it thought-provoking with an upbeat message for America’s future.