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Publisher's Summary

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 listener.
©1984 Barbara Tuchman (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"Among contemporary historians, Barbara Tuchman stands supreme." ( Times of London)
"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, London)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By peter on 04-13-11

No stone left unturned

First, the narrator is marvelous! I think it was Wanda McCaddon read 'Four Days in Naples' also. Her cultured voice catches Tuchman's impish humor and ironic twists with appropriate cadence and emphasis every time. Quite a skill.

Back to the Book. Tuchman fans rarely seek precis: the goes author delves into immense detail; no issue is left untouched by her sense of chronological context; her ability to describe a character comprehesively in no more than one or two phrases; a mildly irreverent sense of humor that adds a frequent light touch to serious research; her incisive judgment in final retrospect. All such components are vital in an appreciation of this fine writer's skill in helping us make sense of history. I have read 'The First Salute', 'The Guns of August' and this book. I must read more by her

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Plimtuna on 09-24-09

Tuchman surprises me...

This is the third book I have read by Ms. Tuchman (The Proud Tower, Guns of August, and Distant Mirror) I have enjoyed all of them. The audio reader is excellent and makes the book quite easy to listen to.

In the earlier books I found a very palatable approach to the writing of history. The nuances and depth that Ms. Tuchman adds is quite fascinating. I have kept coming back for more. When this book was released I ordered it immediately.

The first two thirds of this particular book did not disappoint. However the last third covering the US involvement in the Indochina/Vietname seemed to me to have a different tone. I found myself hearing a more judgmental, condescending tone to her analysis. Is it possible that due to the historical proximity of the events portrayed that she was unable to write in a more neutral tone?

I will not abandon Ms. Tuchman for this effort, but I will stick to areas where she is less likely to have a temporal bias.

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29 of 34 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Tom on 04-18-11

An interesting and absorbing book

This book should be of interest to anyone who wants to understand better how Governements can sometimes make a terrible mess of their business. It tries to draw lessons from one semi-fictional (the Fall of Troy) and three real life episodes from history-the last two - the loss of the Amreican colonies and Vietnam - are worth the price of the book on their own.

Although the author sets out the events, this is not narrative history as she intersperses her judgments, analysis and opinions as she goes through. This is OK if you have some familiarity with the history, but can be confusing - as it was for me when she dealt with the creation of Protestantism - if you are not.

I think this must be quite an old recording as the editing was not what you expect - but the narrator is excellent, with great judgement of pace and tone, always important, I think, for narrated history books.

Barbara Tuchman is a very fine historian, and I intend to get another of her books with next month's credit. In the meantime, I can recommended this book wholeheartedly.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By mr s gilmore on 08-10-17

Simply outstanding

This is truly a fantastic read that has insight throughout the ages and also shows how things can go wrong and right

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Kyle on 11-30-16

Good but not great

I enjoyed the depth of examination on the topic but was hoping there would be more than a handful of examples. Not bad though!

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4 out of 5 stars
By Pierz Newton-John on 11-14-16

An interesting analysis of the nature of political folly throughout history.

Although written more than 30 years ago, Tuchman's analysis hasn't dated much, and the same principles of folly can be seen operating as strongly as ever today - the Iran and Afghanistan wars being the obvious and depressing examples. A couple of elements of the narration grated, however. The narrator seemed to feel she had to render quotations in the accent of the original speaker, yet the result was unconvincing and distracted from the content. Also, she has a bizarre and ultimately teeth-grating way of pronouncing "non-" as "none", thus reading "non-communist" as "none-communist", for example. A tiny point, but annoying as a grain of sand in your eye (at least to me!).

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