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andymccoy

Ecletic Reader

I'll read just about anything that might be interesting and love to learn about new things.

The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam

The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam - Barbara W. Tuchman Overall I found this to be an informative and interesting book, though I'm at a loss to say what it's purpose was. It pointed out that governments pursue policies that are contrary to their self-interest, but there was very little in depth discussion as to why this occurs. Tuchman never seems to offer a diagnosis of the problem, merely stating that personal ambition and "wooden-headedness" can lead to folly. She acknowledges that political pressures can prevent even well meaning leaders from avoiding folly, though she doesn't seem to reconcile this with her idea that governments act in folly.

No solution is offered to combat the problem of folly, nor does it feel like the book goes beyond the thesis of "governments sometimes engage in folly." While the information is interesting and potentially helpful to those eternal optimists who believe that government always acts in the nation's interest, I feel like this book was a real missed opportunity. So much could have been done to look at the causes of folly or propose solutions, but instead it felt like a polemic on incompetent governance.

Beyond the issue of clarity and focus, I found the style to be unwieldy. Sentences containing multiple premises were rampant. I found myself on more than one occasion trying to parse sentences containing two or three sub-clauses in order to understand the point of a statement. While I did enjoy reading this book, I don't think I'll be recommending, mainly because I don't see its utility.