The March of Folly

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What to expect

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.

Critics Review

  • “Among contemporary historians Barbara Tuchman stands supreme.”

    Times (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)
  • “In The March of Folly, Barbara Tuchman, as usual, breaks all the rules. She sails forth with bold moral purpose at a time when most other popular historians hug the shores of biography…There is more to Tuchman’s appeal than surperb storytelling. She also glories in unmasking deceit, cant, and pomposity.”

  • “Without missing a single consonant and narrating at a pace that complements the author’s abundant flow of information, Wanda McCaddon employs her award-winning talents to the fullest. McCaddon’s French and Italian make her sound like a native speaker of both. The satire of the Renaissance popes exemplifies the color both author and narrator bring to didactic narrative.”


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