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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

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


By Chi-Hung on 05-31-10

interesting conception, uninteresting execution.

I have to admit, Tuchman is one of my favourite historians and thus this book from her comes as a disappointment. The title suggested, a comprehensive history of folly committed by governments everywhere and of all times, but what we got is thematically divided episodes with superficial analysis on each theme. The theme was unequally distributed, one would think Renaissance papacy (a few hundred years in scope) would deserve more space than Vietnam War (20 years from French phase) but Vietnam War comprised one and half of the book, making Spanish conquest, War of Independent and Papal Monarchy de facto salad dressing.

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15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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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


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

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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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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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