The March of Folly by Barbara Tuchman

Tuchman’s thesis is that governments frequently, through sheer obstinacy and stupidity, do things that are injurious to their own interests. She cites four primary historical examples: the Trojans in the Trojan War, the papacy preceding the Reformation, the British government during the American Revolution, and the government of the United States during the Vietnam War. But it is when she gets to Vietnam that you get the feeling that this is primarily what she has been leading up to and is her primary purpose in writing this book. Tuchman seems to believe that political power has a way of insulating leaders from reality until it is too late, and that it is easier for leaders to stick to a faulty plan than to admit a mistake and make a course correction. However persuasive her arguments are…and they are fairly persuasive…this book makes a nice trip through history and is as enjoyable for its narrative rendering as it is for its polemics

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