The March of Folly has ratings and reviews. Twice a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, author Barbara Tuchman now tackles the pervasive presence of. 64 quotes from The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam: ‘Chief among the forces affecting political folly is lust for power, named by Tacitus as the mo. Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Barbara W. Tuchman, author of the World War I masterpiece The Guns of August, grapples with her boldest subject.

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Self-interest is whatever conduces to the welfare or advantage of the body being governed; folly is a policy that in these terms is counter-productive. Although only occurring a handful of decades ago, the events of the Vietnam War seem distant and mystifying. As such, it is more of a screed against certain practices, rather than a real attempt at balanced barbaar impartial history.

The popes, in spite of criticism from many clerics and kings c A fascinating attempt by Tuchman to explain or at least illustrate why governments choose the wrong path even when they know it’s the wrong path. I didn’t realize what a long and twisty road it was that led to the actual fighting, but this book explains everything very well, and in detail, but never in a boring way.

The good news is that we’re not treated to the faint sound of axes grinding. See all books by Barbara W.

However she places on this relatively simple definition a series of qualifiers and exemptions as to muddy the waters. To look at the history of modern man since about 1, BC and take examples of real foolishness on the part of a number of key governments, and try to see why they so acted, strikes me as a wonderful idea for a book.

Just a moment thf we sign you in to your Goodreads account. There are times when the circumstances are too inter-dependent or too much at the edge-of-the-cliff that no-one, not even common-sense, could have match the fall that was coming by taking the steps that should have been matter-of-course at any other point.

If the sections were shorter, the lack of original insight would be acceptable. Her point is that group think and a focus on assumptions despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary leads to a reinforcing spiral of wrong choices. Why tne intelligent mental process seem so often not to function? All misgovernment is contrary to self-interest in the long run, but may actually strengthen a regime temporarily. On the Renaissance popes I appreciated the clear survey of ineptitute as the period is not well-known to me.


It’s interesting to note that people were present at the time of each event that anticipated and warned bqrbara needed reform or change in policy. The author finds something different within each one that allows us to see the many levels of government folly.

The March of Folly Quotes

It’s too long to be fun barrbara too unoriginal to be worth reading. The Fall of Troy: From Troy to Vietnam by Barbara W.

The Renaissance Tuchkan Provoke the Protestant Secession With one chapter devoted to each of the major popes during this period, the abuses get worse and worse as time goes on. As part of his talk, he briefly discussed the Founding Fathers and fklly quoted Barbara W.

The New York Review of Books. Tuchman is usually crisp and succinct. Tuchman — 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. The actions must be conducted by a number of individuals, not just one deranged maniac; and 4. It was a fascinating time. Nothing wrong with that, but I prefer not to be able to read historian’s personal views in the work. I appreciate your dedication to keeping it real.

The March of Folly – Wikipedia

Nothing really links these things except “self-defeating folly” and that’s just a weak hook to link these things together. Tuchman demystifies some of it, but her cynicism and bias is most apparent during this chapter.

This should make us conclude that the main message of the book, and of history, is one of Tolstoy-ian embrace of the ‘Wisdom of the Masses’? By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. It is an investigation into the process by which governments embark on self-destructive courses ‘folly’despite recognition of the problem, and alternative courses being available.

I found the section on Troy extremely interesting, the section on the Popes not very interesting, and the introduction I found OK. Well, really three things s Man, talk about phoning it in However I found the chapters dealing with the six terrible popes to be mind-numbing.


Firstly, the writing is not up to par and I can only put this down to sloppy editing. One can only imagine the new bodily orifice Tuchman would have ripped over Iraq and Afghanistan.

She falters a bit while explaining the British loss of the American colonies as a result of folly. But we can extrapolate them into any number of follies that we are familiar with in our own countries and see how leaders make the stupid mistakes over and over again, and incomprehensible mistakes at that. You see, Babs writes history in such a colorful, engaging manner that you don’t no Babs is one craftytalented instructor and this ranks highly among the BEST history books I’ve had the pleasure of reading.

It is this section where the case for folly, though clearly presented, is much more complicated and relies heavily on the examples from the previous sections. I particularly enjoyed the Vietnam section, as I’ve really never read anything about it before. On the Americas I appreciated the overview of the revolution as she worked so much from the position of England, rather than from the wearisomely familiar perspective of the colonists.

Tuchman’s main premise is that there have been many, many occasions in humanity’s past in which governments, rulers, kings, etc. As such, it is a very good Britain-centric analysis of British policy and government.

So I think you can read this book for its individual content i.

Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. When he and six fellow conspirators, as recorded by Herodotus, overthrew the reigning despot, they discussed what kind of government – whether a monarchy of one or an oligarchy of the wisest volly – they should establish.

This is not of course! Return to Book Page.