Military history

The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam

The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam

Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Barbara W. Tuchman, author of the World War I masterpieceThe Guns of August, grapples with her boldest subject: the pervasive presence, through the ages, of failure, mismanagement, and delusion in government.
 
Drawing on a comprehensive array of examples, from Montezuma’s senseless surrender of his empire in 1520 to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Barbara W. Tuchman defines folly as the pursuit by government of policies contrary to their own interests, despite the availability of feasible alternatives. In brilliant detail, Tuchman illuminates four decisive turning points in history that illustrate the very heights of folly: 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’ own persistent mistakes in Vietnam. Throughout The March of Folly, Tuchman’s incomparable talent for animating the people, places, and events of history is on spectacular display.
 
Praise for The March of Folly
 
“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

Acknowledgments

Chapter 1. PURSUIT OF POLICY CONTRARY TO SELF-INTEREST

Chapter 2. PROTOTYPE: THE TROJANS TAKE THE WOODEN HORSE WITHIN THEIR WALLS

Chapter 3. THE RENAISSANCE POPES PROVOKE THE PROTESTANT SECESSION: 1470–1530

  1. Murder in a Cathedral: Sixtus IV

  2. Host to the Infidel: Innocent VIII

  3. Depravity: Alexander VI

  4. The Warrior: Julius II

  5. The Protestant Break: Leo X

  6. The Sack of Rome: Clement VII

Chapter 4. THE BRITISH LOSE AMERICA

  1. Who’s In, Who’s Out: 1763–65

  2. “Asserting a Right You Know You Cannot Exert”: 1765

  3. Folly Under Full Sail: 1766–72

  4. “Remember Rehoboam!”: 1772–75

  5. “… A Disease, a Delirium”: 1775–83

Chapter 5. AMERICA BETRAYS HERSELF IN VIETNAM

  1. In Embryo: 1945–46

  2. Self-Hypnosis: 1946–54

  3. reating the Client: 1954–60

  4. “Married to Failure”: 1960–63

  5. Executive War: 1964–68

  6. Exit: 1969–73

Epilogue - “A LANTERN ON THE STERN”

REFERENCE NOTES AND WORKS CONSULTED