Form and Content

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Tracing political self-interest across the ages, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam offers an alternative view for a woman’s understanding of Western world government. Barbara Tuchman employs the legend of the wooden horse as a paradigm to interpret three points in history (late fifteenth century through late twentieth century) when political leaders were duped into blundering badly at the expense of the masses. Tuchman’s scholarly trek into the masculine domain of political power considers a woman’s historical perspective of how and why world leaders keep repeating the moral mistakes that plague humanity. Folly is difficult to discern, says Tuchman, because people have a tendency to bury trauma when no one wants to admit fault. Then, too, the collective psyche of a nation neglects coming to grips with reason when folly robs political leaders of rational choices and mismanagement follows those individuals with the power to dupe the masses. Therefore, political self-interest has devastating effects on humanity, having become the sacred cow that pushes world leaders toward a pattern of policy that is contrary to common sense. If military prowess is the heart of tyranny, then moral ineptitude is the soul of folly, claims Tuchman, and that ineptitude remains the mindless plaything of deceitful leaders who ignore alternative answers for constructive change.

The book’s introductory chapters examine a multitude of occasions of faulty...

(The entire section is 538 words.)