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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Her clear, dramatic storytelling covered topics as diverse as the 14th century and World War I, and sold millions of copie Barbara Wertheim Tuchman was an American self-trained historian and author and double Pulitzer Prize winner.

World History Military History Category: On the British loss of the American colonies, Tuchman compellingly makes the case that leaving any enterprise in the hands of the amateur nitwits barbraa drinking problems that constituted the British government was not the best of ideas.

However most of military leaders were not at all convinced that Vietnam presented any real threat to U. The rabid right and McCarthy were still around and there was a growing fear of Communism. Well, really three things she spends just one brief chapter on the fourth item, Troy in the Trojan War.

I have known something of a feeling of bitterness over some aspects of that conflict. Refresh and try again. The actions must be conducted over a period of time, not just in a single burst of irrational behavior; 3. Yet Kennedy knew this marfh to appear to be a Vietnamese war with the U. Tuchman defines folly as the pursuit by government of policies contrary to their own interests, despite volly availability of feasible alternatives. The fighting isn’t covered in any real sense, but the demands of rabid anti-communism with its fears of all communists everywhere working in concert with Moscow are well pointed out though not as well developed as I’d like; though that’d probably be going off her topic.

Honestly, how often can you truly say that you’ve overdosed on happy reading a history book. This can distort her objective examination of the topic in some areas, but if it is noticed and ignored, the rest of the study is outstanding. It is an investigation into the process by which governments embark on self-destructive courses ‘folly’despite fuchman of the problem, and alternative courses being available.


What Tuchman sees as utter folly on the part of the U. 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.

The March of Folly is an magch title. Folpy through all of almost no notice by public and no authorization by Congress was even sought. Also the popes were extraordinarily consistent in their actions so it is hard to see what was folly versus ingrained admittedly self destructive custom.

The sections on the American Revolution and the Vietnam War are interesting in themselves, but one wonders at times, given the detail involved in both cases, if Tuchman is not actually off the rails.

Tuchman takes up a panoramic view of human history and exposes these decisions, and wonders with us I thought ‘The March of Folly’ would be a good read to balance out the optimism of The Wisdom of Crowds. For some years now I have been meaning to get a copy of “The March of Folly,” since it is a book which greatly appeals to me in its concept.

It’s just amazing, the utter blindness and stupidity of some of the people in high places, from way, way back, up to the present time. Regardless of whether one could argue the alternatives convincingly, I found the topics a little dry and the text dense at times.

Marcj simply loved her question which almost allows her to dismiss the rationality of the Trojan War: It can be overwhelming and is not welcoming to readers unfamiliar with this kind of writing. These follies are chosen because viable alternatives were available and popularly supported, and the decisions were taken by groups instead of individuals. An exercise in historical interpretation such as this, tracing a single idea through a set of examples, is structured toward her weaknesses; and they are only too apparent.

Perhaps the most challenging chapter of the book was the one related to the Vietnam War. Read it Forward Read it first. On the other hand, it’s too short. They were low-priority, low-impact items that only increased in importance after missteps had caused the situation to blow up.


View all 5 comments. While in the case of the Renaissance popes, these were bred in and exaggerated rolly the surrounding culture, all are independent of time and recurrent in governorship.

The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam

Also, she actually is stronger in another classical case not mentioned in the title or in most descriptions of the book, viz. Tuchman posits the existance of folly, or the pursuit of public policy contrary to self-interest—in other words, why nations keep shooting themselves in the foot.

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. Perhaps more than necessary to make the case for folly. And who pays the ultimate price of that folly?

Here was a classic case of seeing the truth and acting without reference to it. Insightful, particularly for a history noob like myself, Barb’s writing is full of relevant advice, reflected in the mistakes tuchmaan the past. Fathers and Sons in the Book of Mormon.

That principle of historical interpretation is likely to satisfy very few. She remembers the first rule of history: Feb 28, Gill marked it as unfinished. Folly is a child of power.

Tuchman’s folly | The New Criterion

To not oppose Communism? But in each case the political inertia of the power structure was such to make heeding the warnings impossible.

I got nothing out of the first third when I tried to read it, and I didn’t seem over the parts I skimmed. Why would these people vote against their own self-interest now? Yet history proved otherwise. View all 4 comments. While Tuchman’s gaze is squarely fixed on ministers in London trying to implement an unenforceable tax, the real dynamics of colonial rebellion were being played out in America. I never felt there were any real lessons to be learned in Tuchman’s telling.

Tuchman focuses on four such events, tuchmqn wit: The actions must be conducted by a number of individuals, not just one deranged maniac; utchman 4.