The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam

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Overview

Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Barbara W. Tuchman, author of the World War I masterpiece The Guns of August, grapples with her boldest subject: the pervasive presence, through the ages, of failure, mismanagement, and delusion in government.
 
Drawing on a comprehensive array of examples, from Montezuma’s senseless surrender of his empire in 1520 to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Barbara W. Tuchman defines folly as the pursuit by ...

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The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam

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Overview

Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Barbara W. Tuchman, author of the World War I masterpiece The Guns of August, grapples with her boldest subject: the pervasive presence, through the ages, of failure, mismanagement, and delusion in government.
 
Drawing on a comprehensive array of examples, from Montezuma’s senseless surrender of his empire in 1520 to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Barbara W. Tuchman defines folly as the pursuit by government of policies contrary to their own interests, despite the availability of feasible alternatives. In brilliant detail, Tuchman illuminates four decisive turning points in history that illustrate the very heights of folly: the Trojan War, the breakup of the Holy See provoked by the Renaissance popes, the loss of the American colonies by Britain’s George III, and the United States’ own persistent mistakes in Vietnam. Throughout The March of Folly, Tuchman’s incomparable talent for animating the people, places, and events of history is on spectacular display.
 
Praise for The March of Folly
 
“A glittering narrative . . . a moral [book] on the crimes and follies of governments and the misfortunes the governed suffer in consequence.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“An admirable survey . . . I haven’t read a more relevant book in years.”—John Kenneth Galbraith, The Boston Sunday Globe
 
“A superb chronicle . . . a masterly examination.”—Chicago Sun-Times

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A glittering narrative . . . a moral [book] on the crimes and follies of governments and the misfortunes the governed suffer in consequence.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“An admirable survey . . . I haven’t read a more relevant book in years.”—John Kenneth Galbraith, The Boston Sunday Globe
 
“A superb chronicle . . . a masterly examination.”—Chicago Sun-Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345308238
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/28/1985
  • Edition description: FIRST
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 163,273
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.18 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara W. Tuchman (1912–1989) achieved prominence as a historian with The Zimmermann Telegram and international fame with The Guns of August—a huge bestseller and winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Her other works include Bible and Sword, The Proud Tower, Stilwell and the American Experience in China (for which Tuchman was awarded a second Pulitzer Prize), Notes from China, A Distant Mirror, Practicing History, The March of Folly, and The First Salute.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Ms. Tuchman Nails the Problems with our History

    I recently read this book, & the parallels that she draws with respect to the gaffes & outright stupid mistakes that all governments seem to make is amazingly on point. Her analysis of the "folly" of Viet Nam is dead on,& after reading it, anyone should be able to see what drove our involvement in that area; whatever side they they were/are on,this book explains it in the easiest,clearest manner possible. I highly recommend it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2008

    Thought-provoking in Tuchmann's unique style

    This is one of my favorite books of all time. It shows what factors contributed to the government blindness 'or plain stupidity' that lead to those moments in history where we now think that almost any other choice would've been better than the one chosen. Worth the read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2005

    Why it happened

    Barbara Tuchman takes 3 important historical events and one legend (Troy) and explains why these events happened. She defines folly as the pursuit of policy contrary to self interest. For folly to occur one or all of three things are always present: obliviousness to the disaffection of constituents, primacy of self-aggrandizement, and illusions of invulnerable status. She takes these themes and analysis events in unusual detail, explaining how political institutions do self-destructive things. And she explains why these things happened, something we do not always get when reading history. I thought her book to be extremely interesting for anyone interested in political history. It is well written and her writing is logical in describing the seqauence of events, the people in power, their values, and why they acted in such a self destructive manner. I think this is an important book because it shows that folly can occur when men in power feel the most invulnerable.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 2, 2012

    If you read history this is a must read.

    Part of the genius of Barbara Tuchman is that her writings offer new insights to every serious reader. She is a valuable resource for scholars and novices. And in her “March of Folly, From Troy To Vietnam” we find conclusive proof that humanity will probably never “learn”. It appears that we are pitiful creatures, driven endlessly by our desires. Thus we seek power and all that may flow from it, until we are toppled by orerreach or death. So it was from “... Troy to Vietnam ...” and to … Iraq.

    “ ... As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, …”

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2004

    Slow reading books

    I found this book to jump around a great deal with no explanation as to why certain facts were being presented. I am sorry to say that I would not recommend this book and even though I am certain that the author spent a long time on it, I feel that this book read very slowly.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

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