- Paperback: 447 pages
- Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (February 12, 1985)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345308239
- ISBN-13: 978-0345308238
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 586 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam Paperback – February 12, 1985
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“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
From the Publisher
Barbara Tuchman defines folly as "Pursuit of Policy Contrary to Self-Interest." In THE MARCH OF FOLLY, Tuchman examines 4 conflicts: The Trojan Horse, The Protestant Secession, The American Revolution, and The American War in Vietnam. In each example an alternative course of action was available, the actions were endorsed by a group, not just an individual leader, and the actions were perceived as counter productive in their own time. Many individuals are guilty of folly (Tuchman also calls this woodenheadedness), but when governments persist in folly, their actions can adversely affect thousands, even millions of lives. Folly is a child of power. "The power to command frequently causes failure to think."(p.32). THE MARCH OF FOLLY may not be as well known as A DISTANT MIRROR and THE GUNS OF AUGUST, but it is my favorite of her works. I heartily recommend it to any Tuchman fans who have not yet discovered it.
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Because the topics she addresses are timeless and are always here with us. After finishing this book I thought if there will be a day when our rulers do their work accordingly. I guess not. To make mistakes is part of the game. Nobody is free because human race is not an exception in animal kingdom and so is open to make mistakes. We screw things up. And we don't feel sorry.
What do we need to do the right thing? Intelligence? No. Academic studies? No.
Compassion perhaps. And Courage to bring it to its limits. As you read the book you think if there are examples of savvy and healthy political programs that save the world from our senselessness. I guess there are. But how to notice it. How to record things that goes beyond any record because they never happened. The guy who didn't die because there were not bombardment, doesn't know he is alive because someone didn't give an order to shatter his world.
Miss Tuchman doesn't addresses that issue, anyway; instead she displays in front of you the cruel inventory of the unnecessary deaths that the wrong answer, even of highly sophisticated governments, determined. She tells you how the wrong answer was full of good suggestions that could avoid the final output. In every case there was a chance of doing the right thing, I mean, before the facts. And in every case, the authority did the wrong thing.
From Troy to Vietnam has always been the same thing, so I would add to the title "From Troy to Vietnam... and beyond."
We live in a world ruled by governments that think not like rulers but like householders. Not much more. Politics at the highest level, Tuchman reminds us, is not more sophisticated than you could conceive. We are always the head of a family that believe that being the head of a nation give us special powers to solve problems. And it is not like that. The method for making ends meet is only one whether you are in the living room of your house or in the hall of a palace addressing a speech.
Just think about it.
Now, while I'm going to read "A distant mirror," you should try "The March..."
You won't feel cheated, at all.
decline of the medieval church, attempted governmental reforms and political infighting. Also, a chilling description of the coming of the Black Death. Extremely readable and entertaining for a history book!
Requires some prior knowledge of some case studies to fully understand and appreciate the author's points. I'm a bit weak on the Trojan War story so didn't fully grasp some of that chapter but that is more about my own shortcomings than the book's.
Very much a worthwhile read.