Well-written books have the ability to challenge our assumptions and give us a sense of history and understanding.
[Darris McNeely] If you're like me, and I'm pretty sure you are, you've been bewildered and somewhat irritated by politics of recent years and the back and forth, and handling the COVID, and the economy, and other ideological matters that have just turned things upside down. After last year's election, I pulled a book off my shelf that I've had for more than three decades called "The March of Folly," written by a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Barbara Tuchman, years ago. Ms. Tuchman wrote a number of history books. And had you ever had her as a history teacher in college or high school, you would have liked history because she writes in a very colorful, engaging way. And every one of her books have stood the test of time and actually still speak to events today. This one, especially "The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam." What she does is to go through episodes in history that show how governments act against their own self-interest.
The cover on this particular edition shows the Trojans bringing that Greek horse in. And she poses the question, "What got into their minds to bring that horse through their gates in Troy?" Now she goes through other stories from history. She talks about the Renaissance Popes and how they lost control through corruption and greed. She talks about how actually the British lost the American colonies through policies that just were working against their interests. And even the United States, she concludes in her last part of the book, by its folly in Vietnam in the 1960s and into the early 1970s. "The March of Folly" still speaks to the problems of human governance, no matter who, or when, and where in history. And it brings up that particular problem. And I would recommend it as a book that is one that feeds you for a long time. It's like the Scripture in Ecclesiastes 12, that says about the books of which there are no end of making these books. But the ones that you want are the ones that have the well-driven nails, the ones that kind of were pounded in and hold together a structure, a sense of history, a sense of understanding. This is one of those books I would recommend for you, "The March of Folly."
Let me just conclude with a few sentences from the end of the book. After she surveys the stories that she does, she points to the ambition, the corruption, and the problems of coming to a wise government. And she says we should look for people of character. And obviously, that's what everyone has done throughout history, but it's rarely found. And she says while such virtues may in truth be in every man's powers, virtues like justice, and equity, and honesty, they have no less chance in our system than money and ruthless ambition to prevail at the ballot box. The problem she says, may be not so much a matter of educating people for government as educating the electorate, the people to recognize and reward integrity of character and reject that which is false. She says, "We can only muddle on as we have done in these same 3,000 or 4,000 years of human history through patches of brilliance and decline, great endeavor, and shadow.
Her conclusions in the book, I think echo many principles of the Bible. And it's one of those books again that I'd like to point out to our "Beyond Today" audience that feeds you for a long time. "The march of folly from Troy to Vietnam," Barbara Tuchman, worth putting on your summer reading list or you're reading list report anytime for that matter.
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