Almost a decade before today's "war on terrorism" began, before Osama Bin Laden became a household name and Afghanistan hit the world headlines, a small book called War and Anti-War warned:

"The rise of religious fanaticism (as distinct from mere fundamentalism) promotes paranoia and loathing around the world. A minority of Islamic extremists conjure fantasies of a New Crusade, with the entire Muslim world united in a Jihad, or Holy War, against Judeo-Christianity".

Anticipating what is now happening on the border of Pakistan, the book spoke of ethnic and religious violence pushing "waves of poverty-stricken, war-ridden immigrants (and hordes of drug traffickers as well) across national boundaries". Widely read by military leaders around the world, War and Anti-War cautioned that "In the increasingly wired global economy, many of these seemingly small conflicts trigger strong secondary effects in surrounding (and even distant) countries."

The U.S. military would have to rely more heavily on precision weapons, special operations forces and unmanned robotic aircraft, and would need more on-the-ground human intelligence, and as well as a far better understanding of the role of the world media.

The authors of these early warnings were Alvin and Heidi Toffler, the world's most influential and credible forecasters and futurists.

From Silicon Valley to Wall Street and Washington, from Tokyo to Singapore and Seoul, the Tofflers' books and lectures have given advance information and powerful new ideas to the change-makers and world leaders who are defining the early 21st century.

According to Time magazine, the Tofflers "set the standard by which all subsequent would-be futurists have been measured."

Their books include such classics as Future Shock and The Third Wave, as well as Powershift, War and Anti-War, and, most recently, Creating a New Civilization.

Translated into over 30 languages ranging from Japanese, Spanish and French to Chinese, Arabic, Finnish and Urdu, the Toffler books have sold in the multi-millions, have been pirated in many countries, and were burned in at least one.

From Prisons to Palaces

President Kim Dae Jung of South Korea and President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela are only two among world leaders who read the Toffler books while in prison on political charges.

In China their book, The Third Wave, was first banned as a bearer of so-called "Western Spiritual Pollution", then became China's greatest best-seller, second only to the speeches of Deng Xiaoping, and has cited in the press as the "Bible" of China's reformers.

During the repressive years of the former Soviet Union, Future Shock penetrated the "gulag" -- the remote prisons to which individuals were sent for political "crimes", and was read by the dissidents. In Eastern Europe, copies passing from hand to hand contributed to the intellectual ferment that led to the democratic gains of recent years.

Everywhere their works focused on new possibilities. Thus, according to Asia historian Alexander Woodside, "Where an earlier generation of Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese revolutionaries wanted to reenact the Paris Commune as imagined by Karl Marx, their post-revolutionary successors now want to reenact Silicon Valley as imagined by Alvin Toffler."

Managers and Media

The Toffler books have influenced titans of business and finance as well. Media baron Ted Turner has publicly credited the Tofflers with inspiring him to launch CNN. Steve Case, chairman of AOL-Time Warner, tells reporters that Tofflers' The Third Wave influenced him to switch careers and enter the on-line media business. J. D. Power cites their influence on him and his company, and Federal Express has formally honored the Tofflers for the role their ideas played in shaping its strategy.

Today, Toffler Associates, the firm they started in 1998, provides top-level strategic advice to governments, leading corporations, and other clients around the world.

Early Alerts

As early as the beginning of the 1960s, the Tofflers foretold the explosive rise of the computer. They wrote and lectured about PCs, electronic "agents", virtual reality, and today's electronic networks decades before they appeared in the market place. They described the VCR years before it even had a name. When the forerunner of the Internet had only 700 people on it, the Tofflers were on it and telling the world about it.

As a consultant, Alvin Toffler prepared a secret report for the board of AT&T, then the world's largest private company, forecasting the break-up of that giant company 12 years before the U.S. government split it up.

The Tofflers forecast the coming of cable television when it was still widely assumed that "advertisers would never back cable."
They lectured about niche markets long before that term was invented. They wrote about the acceleration of change, the shift to work-at-home and temporary help services in 1970. They identified the move to de-massified media as early as 1961.

Custom manufacture, out-sourcing, franchising, the current wave of corporate restructuring -- all appeared in their lectures and books decades in advance.

Today their ideas about business "constellations", "vertical and horizontal leadership", "de-synchronization", the future fusion of biotechnology with information technology, and the "trisection" of global power offer challenging new insights into management and the economy of the future.

Rock Music and Overchoice

The Toffler books have added numerous words and phrases to our language, from the "third wave", "demassification", and "adhocracy" to the "electronic cottage" and "overchoice." Their term "future shock" is now firmly embedded in dictionaries and encyclopedias.

The ideas of the Tofflers have become part of the global cultural bloodstream. They have inspired symphonies, poetry, a rock musical performed at the Edinburgh Festival, and songs by some of the world's most famous rock stars.

The Tofflers' global impact comes not only from spotting individual changes in advance or simplistically projecting unrelated trends, but from identifying the newest forces behind change, synthesizing them, and setting them into a coherent, intellectual framework.

In their early years, both the Tofflers spent half a decade as blue collar workers in heavy industry, later putting that practical experience to use by writing about the nature of work and the contrast between manual and mental labor.

Subsequently, Alvin Toffler has served as a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, a Visiting Professor at Cornell University, a faculty member of the New School for Social Research, a White House correspondent, an editor of Fortune magazine, and a business consultant.

He holds honorary doctorates in letters, law, science and -- from Keio University in Tokyo -- in managment science. In France, where the Tofflers' work has won the prestigious Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, he has been named an Officier de L'Ordre des Arts et Lettres.

He is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, serves on the advisory board of the Comptroller-General of the United States, and has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Both the Tofflers are Distinguished Adjunct Professors at the National Defense University in Washington.

Heidi Toffler, a futurist and intellectual in her own right, is on the advisory council of the Center for Global Communications in Tokyo and the scientific committee of the Piu Manzu Foundation in Italy. She holds an honorary doctorate in law and has been awarded the medal of the President of the Italian Republic for her contributions to social thought.

The Tofflers are honorary Co-Chairs of the U.S. Committee for the United Nations Development Fund for Women. They have worked together as an intellectual team since their marriage 52 years ago.