Building on the concepts they first developed in Generations and 13th Gen, Neil Howe and William Strauss now take on Generation Y, or, as they call them, the Millennials. Unlike their rather distressing portrait of the more reactive Generation X (the 13th Gen), or the negative stereotypes that abound about today's kids, this is all good news. According to Howe and Strauss, this group is poised to become the next great generation, one that will provide a more positive, group-oriented, can-do ethos. Huge in size as well as future impact, they're making a sharp break from Gen-X trends and a direct reversal of boomer youth behavior. Why? Because, as a nation, we've devoted more concern and attention their way than to any generation in, well, generations.
Using their trademark paradigm, which places each generation as part of a larger historical cycle with four generations to a cycle, the authors not only describe these kids as they are now (as the first year sets off for college, the last yet to be born) but launch into projections for the future. A sampling of their potential influence in this decade: pop music will become more melodic and singable and sitcoms more melodramatic and wholesome; there will be a new emphasis on manners, modesty, and old-fashioned gender courtesies; and they'll resolve the long-standing debates about substance abuse. "They will rebel against the culture by cleaning it up, rebel against political cynicism by touting trust, rebel against individualism by stressing teamwork, rebel against adult pessimism by being upbeat, and rebel against social ennui by actually going out and getting a few things done." Scanning the future further, this hero generation will have to confront some major crises. But, for a group that has never known war or famine, will it be an opportunity or a calamity? Much of Millennials Rising is familiar territory rehashed, and the profiles and prophecies just too general. But it's hard to resist this hopeful vision for our children and the future. --Lesley Reed