Page 114 | Volume 1 | The Leadership Journal of Dallas Baptist University

114 Ducere Est Servire: THE LEADERSHIP JOURNAL OF DALLAS BAPTIST UNIVERSITY Another major theory which Friedman holds is that history is cyclical and thus can be predictable. This interpretive tool goes against at least some Western thought regarding nature. Other historic thought—from a Judeo-Christian worldview to a Marxist one—is that history is linear and sometimes includes a utopian outcome. It may be that history is moving toward some sort of religious eschatology with a projected ending or that society and culture are continually progressing and evolving to a conclusion of perfection of some kind. Friedman’s cyclical understanding of history is more closely akin to Eastern or Asian thought that history is a series of cycles that are repeated in unending fashion. In his previous books, these three sources of inevitability contribute to what Friedman argues in the inevitability of history and its outcomes. He soundly rejects, for example, that U. S. presidents—or any leaders for that matter—have a major influence over the developments or course of history. He believes that leaders are driven by these sometimes hidden forces and in actuality have little influence over the course of events. Indeed, he believes that the responses of leaders, be they political, military, business, diplomatic, economic, religious, social, and/or cultural are driven by unseen geopolitical forces and historical cycles and as such their decisions may be predicted. To understand what Friedman writes in The Storm Before the Calm, the reader must recognize these underlying assumptions of his work. In the early chapters of this book Friedman provides an overview of his understanding of U. S. history built around U. S. responses to its geography and his definition of the American people generally as “cowboy, inventor, and warrior.” Then, as he transitions to Part Two, he suggests that both American history and the American people are bound by two distinct and orderly cyclical patterns. The first he identifies as “the institutional cycle [that] controls the relationship between the federal government and the rest of American society” (77). He believes this cycle lasts approximately 80 years. The second cycle is “socioeconomic” and “shifts about every fifty years” (77). This historian and reviewer has often both intentionally and unintentionally understood and taught U. S. history based on a similar cycle of 80 years. The 50-year socioeconomic cycle is a bit more difficult to embrace from a historian’s position. It should be acknowledged that, at times, Friedman oversimplifies history for his reader and there are a few places where he makes questionable leaps in understanding history. However, it should also be acknowledged that Friedman is addressing a general audience. While he does great research, by writing in a popular style he does not cite the sources for his information and he undoubtedly simplifies things for his audience. Therefore, it is difficult to recognize some of the sources for his historical theories, particularly those related to the nineteenth century that are part of the centerpiece of his arguments on U. S. history. It should be noted that he is not a historian by trade or education, though obviously history influences his writing and BOOK REVIEWS