Barbara Tuchman's The March of Folly attempts to answer an ancient question, a problem that has bedeviled human society since inception: why do leaders and governments often pursue policies contrary to their own interests? By examining three main test cases - how the behavior of the Renaissance Popes triggered the Protestant Reformation, how the British managed to lose their American colonies, and how the United States ended up betraying itself by entering Vietnam - Tuchman paints an excellent and compelling picture of misrule, of why it is that learned individuals, operating with the best of intentions, can be so blind to folly and end up making decisions entirely at odds with their own best interests. Tuchman is a first-rate Historian and an excellent communicator; whether or not you agree with her conclusion, there is absolutely much to be gained from this extensively-researched, compellingly written, and all-around classic work of history. There may be a certain dryness to some parts - always an issue when it comes to history, with its reliance on primary sources and mounds of data - but Tuchman manages to portray even the most tepid diplomatic maneuvering with an author's flair and a historian's keen sense of context. Whether you are a confirmed History Buff, or simply wish to know a bit more about why it is our leaders behave the way they do, The March of Folly is well worth your time.
Examines the irrationalities of governments through analysis of four crises of history--the fall of Troy, the Renaissance popes' provocation of the Protestant Reformation, Britain's loss of the American colonies, and America's involvement in Vietnam