The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam

Front Cover
Ballantine Books, 1985 - History - 447 pages
260 Reviews
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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Review: The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam

User Review  - Benjamin - Goodreads

Tuchman's sharp analysis un-apologetically brings forward insight that has significant bearing on the modern world. Don't believe me, read it yourself if you are even remotely interested. Read full review

Review: The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam

User Review  - Mark Fisher - Goodreads

Another infuriating book, especially the chapter on Vietnam. Callous powerful men sitting in luxurious boardrooms and making ill-considered decisions that led to the needless deaths and injuries of millions of people. The Vietnam War was a futile war in a worthless cause. Read full review

About the author (1985)

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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