The March of Folly


Barbara Tuchman

The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam by Barbara Tuchman was required reading in one of my leadership classes in Grad School.  I enjoyed the book and retained the copy over the last 30 years.  I finally decided to reread this book after looking at it on my bookshelf all these years. 

The author has won not one, but two Pulitzer Prizes for other books.  Tuchman studied history and literature at Radcliff and uses these skills to tell an engaging and compelling story.  Her writing is in the vein of David McCullough in that the work reads more like a novel at times rather than a history book.

The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam focuses on four major events in history – the Trojan Horse, The Popes and the Holy See, The Revolutionary War and the Vietnam War.  The book shares vital information on how and why leaders can misread situations and make poor and uninformed decisions.  The book addresses the downfalls of authority including subordinates not expressing contrary opinions and the leader not listening to those who do.

While this book focuses on historical events, it contains information that is just as critical in the 21st century.  If you are a leader, or aspire to be a good one, learn from several key lessons in history.