• The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam See large image

    The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam (Paperback) By (author) Barbara W. Tuchman

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    DescriptionFrom the distinguished American historian whose work has been acclaimed around the world, a major new book that penetrates one of the most bizarre and fascinating paradoxes in history: the persistent pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own intersts. Across the march of thirty centuries, Tuchman brings to life the dramatic events which constitute folly's hallmark in government; the fall of Troy, symbolic prototype of freely chosen disaster; the Protestant secession, provoked by six decades of spectacularly corrupt papcy; the British forfeiture of the American colonies; and America's catastrophic thirty year involvement with vietnam. The March of Folly, a work of profound and poignant relevance today, is breathtaking in its scope, originality and vision, and represents the writing of Barbara Tuchman at it's finest.


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  • Full bibliographic data for The March of Folly

    Title
    The March of Folly
    Subtitle
    From Troy to Vietnam
    Authors and contributors
    By (author) Barbara W. Tuchman
    Physical properties
    Format: Paperback
    Number of pages: 576
    Width: 126 mm
    Height: 198 mm
    Thickness: 40 mm
    Weight: 399 g
    Language
    English
    ISBN
    ISBN 13: 9780349106748
    ISBN 10: 0349106746
    Classifications

    BIC subject category V2: JW
    Nielsen BookScan Product Class 3: T5.4
    BIC E4L: WAR
    LC subject heading: ,
    DC21: 909
    BIC subject category V2: HBT
    LC subject heading:
    BIC geographical qualifier V2: 1Q
    LC subject heading:
    Warengruppen-Systematik des deutschen Buchhandels: 27400
    Libri: B-344
    BISAC V2.8: HIS037000
    BIC subject category V2: 1Q
    Thema V1.0: JW, NHT
    Thema geographical qualifier V1.0: 1Q
    Publisher
    Little, Brown Book Group
    Imprint name
    Abacus
    Publication date
    15 February 1990
    Publication City/Country
    London
    Author Information
    Barbara Tuchman is a double Pulizter Prize winning historian who has writen some of the seminal popular historical works of our age. She died in 1989.
    Review quote
    A Tuchman book always teems with colourful characters... observed with a relentless and unforgiving gaze... and what an eye for detail and flair for language she possesses! London Review of Books Admirers of her earlier works will find Barbara Tuchman's familiar virtues on display. She is lucid, painstaking and highly intelligent. She is also highly expert. Sunday Times Few historians, if any, write as well as Barbara Tuchman -- J.H. Plumb
    Review text
    At her best, popular historian Tuchman tells a good story. At her worst, she can be superficial and banal. 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. Tuchman applies the concept of folly to historical "mistakes" with certain features in common: the policy taken was contrary to self-interest; it was not that of an individual (attributable to the individual's character), but that of a group; it was not the only policy available; and it was pursued despite forebodings that it was mistaken. The only way to account for such self-destructive policies, in Tuchman's view, is to label them follies; but that, as she seems unaware, puts them beyond rational explanation. 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. (The Trojan Horse episode serves as an introductory prototype.) One of Tuchman's auxiliary categories is "wooden-headed," which is what she calls the popes who resisted pleas for reform, stuck to their doomed ways, and otherwise lived debauched lives. (On the other hand, "Kennedy was no wooden head," since he avoided making a decision on Vietnam; had he lived, he would presumably either have withdrawn from Vietnam or become another wooden head.) Disavowals notwithstanding, Tuchman cannot escape exercising hindsight. The appearance is inescapable that she has plumbed her cited sources not for their evocation of the mentality of an age but for some good quotes that support the contention of available alternatives. On the American Revolution, for example, her simple account of the Stamp Act and parliamentary debate on the colonies betrays no substantial knowledge of the recent, careful reconstruction of the political understandings of the time. 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. If there was folly here it was the same as Tuchman's, lying in the ignored political transformation across the ocean. None of the sections work as straight narrative: they are too shallow, and the time covered is too long, for more than an outline of events. Unable to explain the courses of action taken, Tuchman cries folly. That principle of historical interpretation is likely to satisfy very few. (Kirkus Reviews)