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The March of Folly

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The March of Folly by Barbara W. Tuchman
Paperback $18.00
Feb 12, 1985 | ISBN 9780345308238

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  • Feb 12, 1985 | ISBN 9780345308238

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  • Jul 20, 2011 | ISBN 9780307798565

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“A glittering narrative . . . a moral [book] on the crimes and follies of governments and the misfortunes the governed suffer in consequence.”—The New York Times Book Review
“An admirable survey . . . I haven’t read a more relevant book in years.”—John Kenneth Galbraith, The Boston Sunday Globe
“A superb chronicle . . . a masterly examination.”—Chicago Sun-Times

Author Essay

Barbara Tuchman defines folly as "Pursuit of Policy Contrary to Self-Interest."   In THE MARCH OF FOLLY, Tuchman examines 4 conflicts: The Trojan Horse, The Protestant Secession, The American Revolution, and The American War in Vietnam. 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. Many individuals are guilty of folly (Tuchman also calls this woodenheadedness), but when governments persist in folly, their actions can adversely affect thousands, even millions of lives.  Folly is a child of power. "The power to command frequently causes failure to think."(p.32). THE MARCH OF FOLLY may not be as well known as A DISTANT MIRROR and THE GUNS OF AUGUST, but it is my favorite of her works. I heartily recommend it to any Tuchman fans who have not yet discovered it.

Randy Hickernell
Ballantine sales rep

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