Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Barbara W. Tuchman, author of the World War I masterpiece The Guns of August, grapples with her boldest subject. Current U.S. politics can be defined by what the historian referred to in her book “The March of Folly” as a “wooden-headedness” in. IN her latest book, Barbara W. Tuchman – the author of such . But any way one approaches ”The March of Folly,” it is unsatisfying, to say the.

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That section is followed by three book-length chapters, each a powerful and marvelous read. Indeed, it was because genuine religious and moral feeling was still present that dismay at the corruption of the clergy and especially of the Holy See was so acute and yearning for reform so strong.

Similarly, the Vietnam chapter is at its best before American troops get directly involved there. They were low-priority, low-impact items that only increased in importance after missteps had caused the situation to blow up.

The March of Folly by Barbara W. Tuchman | : Books

I think the inclusion of Troy was a bit of a stretch since it relies on literature rather than history to make its point, but as match is often about human folly, I guess it works. The Trojan Horse episode serves as an introductory prototype. And our essence would appear — if Ms.

And it was just rehashing. President Johnson started the U. Tuchman takes up a panoramic view of human history and exposes these decisions, and wonders with us how much Folly it took to make these disastrous calls.

He achieved important results in both these endeavors, which being visible, have received ample notice as the visibles of history usually do.

Tuchman focuses on four fooly events, to wit: Summary [ edit ] The book is about “one of the most compelling paradoxes of history: However, if anything illustrates Tuchman’s thesis brilliantly, it’s Vietnam. Why in the world did they take it in?! I would argue that with no reform the same type of nitwit managed go on to build a very large empire and was there really anything wiser council would have done but delay the inevitable.

The March of Folly

In golly book Tuchman takes a step beyond the traditional historian’s story-telling role to provide color-commentary about a specific subset of examples of misgovernment that she classifies as “folly.

Tuchman is usually crisp and succinct. Inclusion of the Vietnam War in the book was a tilt toward commentary on a more recent example of folly, and is probably not all that significant in the long view of history.

All major non-administration advisors argued against this action, and public notice began to grow. The rabid right and McCarthy were still around and there was a growing fear of Communism.

THE MARCH OF FOLLY by Barbara W. Tuchman | Kirkus Reviews

Invariably, the loss of so many young lives to no real purpose other than to serve the interests of ambition, pride, ignorance, stubbornness — in short, of vanity. 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.

He had political reasons to need to show his willingness to fight Communism, especially after the Bay of Pigs fiasco in Cuba.

Surely common-sense would not have allowed these? How the Britsh lost the American colonies: MAGA Books like this don’t make my view of humanity less dim.

The American Revolution chapter mostly deals with events before the outbreak of fighting. What is clear is that when incapacity is joined by complacency, the result is the worst possible combination. Her three major examples are the aggressive actions of the Renaissance popes that resulted in the Reformation, Britain’s loss of the American colonies, and the American debacle in Vietnam.


As Tuchman proceeds through the case studies, the arguments regarding the nature of the folly and its consequences become more nuanced and complicated which leads me to conclude that, similar to how The Guns of August was an excuse to write the story of the Goeben, the Vietnam case study is the real purpose of the book. Barbara Tuchman did a though job of documenting the unwillingness to see and unwillingness to admit mistakes that plague leaders. Barbara Tuchman is a first-rate writer and historian whose books I have much enjoyed.

The American Revolution chapter in particular was especially intriguing.