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The March of Folly af Barbara W. Tuchman
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The March of Folly (original 1984; udgave 1993)

af Barbara W. Tuchman (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
2,841375,030 (3.96)76
In The March of Folly, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Barbara Tuchman tackles the pervasive presence of folly in governments through the ages. Defining folly as the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests, despite the availability of feasible alternatives, Tuchman details four decisive turning points in history that illustrate the very heights of folly in government: the Trojan War, the breakup of the Holy See provoked by the Renaissance popes, the loss of the American colonies by Britain's George III, and the United States' persistent folly in Vietnam. The March of Folly brings the people, places, and events of history magnificently alive for today's reader.… (mere)
Medlem:dlinnen
Titel:The March of Folly
Forfattere:Barbara W. Tuchman (Forfatter)
Info:Random House (1993), 447 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:*****
Nøgleord:history, Goodreads Feb 2024

Work Information

The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam af Barbara W. Tuchman (1984)

  1. 00
    Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit af Garry Wills (rakerman)
    rakerman: I was interested to read the section on the Renaissance Popes as it reminded me of Garry Wills book Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit.
  2. 11
    Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed af Jared M. Diamond (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Books investigating decision-making through history, especially instances of catastrophically poor decision-making.
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Hardcover ( )
  davidrgrigg | Mar 23, 2024 |
Folly: the pursuit of policy contrary to self-interest.

Not an easy read, but VERY interesting. Keep a dictionary handy - it is a Tuchman book.

This book needs to be required reading for all government leaders. The most interesting part was on the American engagement in Viet Nam. Maybe because I lived through it and was a part of finale in Southeast Asia, I found it fascinating.

Had we known what we know now, that entire situation may have been avoided. Funny thing. We did know enough to avoid the folly.

This book significantly changed my attitude about that conflict. It's making me take harder looks at current and future foreign engagements and domestic policies. It is timely. ( )
  dlinnen | Feb 3, 2024 |
To do find
  BJMacauley | Sep 15, 2023 |
recommended on apus listserv
  pollycallahan | Jul 1, 2023 |
For her 1984 book, The March of Folly, Barbara Tuchman defined “folly” as the ”Pursuit of Policy Contrary to Self-Interest,” as the first chapter is entitled. In this book, she explored and detailed the action of governmental regimes that persisted in policies that were manifestly failures despite knowing that they would not, indeed could not, succeed.

She cites numerous examples of such folly, but she focuses on four prominent and famous instances: the Trojans bringing Greek soldiers into their midst despite warnings from Cassandra; the Renaissance popes continuing their avaricious practices despite rumblings of discontent from their followers; successive British governments attempting to tax their American colonies; and the decades-long efforts of the American government to prevent Vietnam from becoming communist. [The American war aim of securing a stable non-communist south was “unattainable…short of total war and invasion, which [the USA] was unwilling to undertake.” The same lesson took many years for Americans to learn about Afghanistan.]

In every case, the government had plenty of warning that its policies were ineffective, but it continued its vain efforts. It seems that the economic concept of “sunk costs” does not register to many policy makers, who would rather persist in futility than admit prior error.

Notably, she averred that “wooden-headedness” in statecraft, i.e., “assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs,” has become a politically desirable option.

The forces driving such obstinacy are lust for power, blind tribal loyalty, and “the refusal to acknowledge that your chief or your kind could be wrong.”

So. How can we avoid future disasters? Clearly the forces that led to disaster in the past still operate, as seen so graphically recently in the United States. Tuchman opines that:

"The problem may be not so much a matter of educating officials for government as educating the electorate to recognize and reward integrity of character and to reject the ersatz. [Good luck with that.] Perhaps better men flourish in better times, and wiser government requires the nourishment of a dynamic rather than a troubled and bewildered society. If John Adams was right, and government is ‘little better practiced now than three or four thousand years ago,’ we cannot reasonably expect much improvement. We can only muddle on as we have done in those same three or four thousand years, through patches of brilliance and decline, great endeavor and shadow.”

Evaluation: Despite the author’s pessimistic conclusion, the book is an enjoyable and informative read.

(JAB) ( )
  nbmars | May 12, 2022 |
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May, NadiaFortællermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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"And I can see no reason why anyone should suppose that in the future the same motifs already heard will not be sounding still...put to use by reasonable men to reasonable ends, or by madmen to nonsense and disaster." -- Joseph Campbell, Forward to The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology, 2969
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A phenomenon noticeable throughout history regardless of place or period is the pursuit by government of policies contrary to their own interests.
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In The March of Folly, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Barbara Tuchman tackles the pervasive presence of folly in governments through the ages. Defining folly as the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests, despite the availability of feasible alternatives, Tuchman details four decisive turning points in history that illustrate the very heights of folly in government: the Trojan War, the breakup of the Holy See provoked by the Renaissance popes, the loss of the American colonies by Britain's George III, and the United States' persistent folly in Vietnam. The March of Folly brings the people, places, and events of history magnificently alive for today's reader.

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