America’s Cycles of Change

Cycles of Change: The Three Great Cycles of American History & the Coming Crises That Will Lead to the Fourth

Cycles of Change: The Three Great Cycles of American History & the Coming Crises That Will Lead to the Fourth Buy Now

America’s past is the key to its future. We are blind to the changes transforming our nation now because we have no idea how often similar upheavals have shaken it before.

Cycles of Change is a revolutionary achievement. It transforms forever the interpretive framework within which America’s history needs to be viewed. It presents the epic history of the United States within an integrated model never used before. Trapped in the bubble of the present conditions that we take for granted, we have no idea how much, and how recently, America has changed – and how it is about to transform and renew itself again.

Veteran correspondent Martin Sieff tackles the extraordinary challenge of reinterpreting the political patterns of U.S. history over the past 220 years. America, he argues, has already gone through six eras of 32-40 years length, each of which was dominated by a particular set of political ideas, economic interests and charismatic leaders from a different region of the country. Each new leadership rose in response to a time of crisis and a set of challenges that had baffled the previous generation of leaders and ideas. Once the immediate challenges had been met, each set of leaders recast America in accordance with their ideas and it stayed that way for two generations, until a new wave of problems and challenges that could not be dealt with by the old answers came up.

Sieff offers astonishing revelations about long-revered American icons:  Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt are even more dominant figures in his work than popular history accords them. Sieff credits Lincoln with creating the legal framework that made Industrial America possible: Lincoln’s background as a railroad lawyer, Sieff maintains, shaped America’s success into the 21st century. Sieff surprisingly interprets FDR as one of our most nationalist and isolationist presidents during his first two terms in office, and as a war strategist vastly superior to even Churchill and Stalin during World War II.

There are other surprises: Sieff applauds Warren Harding an architect of economic recovery at home and of peace abroad. Harding, he says, literally worked himself to death in the White House restoring America’s greatness. By contrast his successor, the grossly overrated Calvin Coolidge was paralyzed by a severe case of clinical depression during his entire presidential term.

Sieff reinterprets Ulysses S. Grant as a successful, effective president who laid the political foundation for 40 years of unparalleled growth. He makes the case that Teddy Roosevelt would have buried 2 million American boys in mass graves on the Western Front if he had his way and brought America into World War I two years earlier. He exposes the revered Ronald Reagan as the Master of Ceremonies of America’s decline rather than the Hero of its recovery.

Sieff shows that to view history through new frameworks is to transform it. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton turn out to have far more in common than either of them would have dared to admit. The now forgotten mass unionization of industrial workers in 1937-38 turns out to be an eerie precursor of the far more famous Civil Rights Movement a quarter century later. Harry Truman and Richard Nixon turn out to be surprisingly similar personalities – upwardly striving, deeply ambitious policy wonks, whose more generous impulses were repeatedly subsumed by ugly, bitter souls.

Cycles of Change is a page-turner crammed with eye-openers in every paragraph. It cannot be easily characterized as right or left – Sieff appears to despise such familiar and simplistic clichés. But it is a must for the policy wonks that devour Politico: Pick it up and you will never view American history the same way again.