In The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam,[1] Barbara Tuchman discusses in detail four totally different and widely separated instances in which, she argues, foolish leadership produced disaster: the Trojan acceptance of the Trojan Horse, the handling of Protestantism by the papacy in the early sixteenth century, English policy during the American Revolution, and America’s conduct in Vietnam. These four instances are enveloped in a more general theoretical treatment of the role of folly in history. Thus, there are five areas in which to test the validity of the book. What I propose to do here is to examine only one of them in detail: the Vietnam experience, which (I imagine) provided Mrs. Tuchman with her chief motive in producing this work.

My old tutor A. J. P. Taylor used to say that the only lesson of history is that there are no lessons of...

 

A Message from the Editors

Our past successes are owed to our greatest ambassadors: our readers. Our future rests on your support, as The New Criterion Editor Roger Kimball explains. Will you help us continue to bring our incisive review of the arts and culture to the next generation of readers?

Popular Right Now