Books: The Downhill Road from Troy

THE MARCH OF FOLLY by Barbara W. Tuchman; Knopf; 447 pages; $18.95

The thread of folly that runs through Barbara Tuchman's books is a filament of doom. In The Guns of August, a wrongheaded French strategy in the first days of World War I leads inexorably to the deadlock of the trenches. The tensions and energies of fin-de-siéde Europe and America in The Proud Tower are primed to explode in that same war. And the chaos of the 14th century becomes A Distant Mirror of the modern distemper.

In her latest work, this fatal thread becomes the whole cloth, as Tuchman explores the...

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