Tony's Reviews > The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam

The March of Folly by Barbara W. Tuchman
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Dec 10, 11

bookshelves: history
Read in December, 2011

88. THE MARCH OF FOLLY: From Troy to Vietnam. (1984; this ed. 2007). Barbara W. Tuchman. *****.
From the scads of potential topics that could be used to illustrate her thesis, this excellent author manages to pick four subjects that epitomize folly in its full sense: The Trojan War; The American Revolution; The Renaissance Popes; and the Vietnam War. Although several examples from history are discussed briefly along the way, Ms. Tuchman manages to pull enough information together from the above four topics to fully explore her thesis. First, her definition of folly: “To qualify as folly for this enquiry, the policy adopted must meet three criteria: It must have been perceived as counter-productive in its own time, not merely by hindsight. This is important because all policy is determined by the mores of its age...Secondly, a feasible alternative course of action must have been available. To remove the problem from personality, a third criterion must be that the policy in question should be that of a group, not an individual ruler, and should persist beyond any one political lifetime.” Using these as her criteria, she then goes on to provide the most lucid histories of her topics that I have ever read. I came away with a new understanding of these events in history that I lacked before with this degree of detail. This is an excellent exposition of “folly” using well selected examples from world history. Highly recommended.
1 like · likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The March of Folly.
sign in »

No comments have been added yet.