Top Historian Quotes

Browse top 274 famous quotes and sayings about Historian by most favorite authors.

Favorite Historian Quotes

1. "God alone knows the future, but only an historian can alter the past."
Author: Ambrose Bierce
2. "The duty of a historian is simply to understand and then convey that understanding, no more than that."
Author: Antony Beevor
3. "The search for the truth for truth's sake is the mark of the historian."
Author: B. H. Liddell Hart
4. "Those who are in the orbit, but nonetheless on the edges, can often be the real discoverers. It was why at times, the journalist, the historian and even the novelist paints the fullest picture of an era"
Author: Bob Woodward
5. "Perhaps the most important lesson of the New Social Historians is that history belongs to those about whom or whose documents survive."
Author: Bruce Jackson
6. "As an economic historian, I appreciate what manufacturing has contributed to the United States. It was the engine of growth that allowed us to win two world wars and provided millions of families with a ticket to the middle class. But public policy needs to go beyond sentiment and history."
Author: Christina Romer
7. "The Tarahumara would party like this all night, then rouse themselves the next morning to face off in a running race that could last not two miles, not two hours, but two full days. According to the Mexican historian Francisco Almada, a Tarahumara champion once ran 435 miles, the equivalent of setting out for a jog in New York City and not stopping till you were closing in on Detroit."
Author: Christopher McDougall
8. "Though many strive to hide their human libidinousness from themselves and each other, being a force of nature, it breaks through. Lots of uptight, proper Americans were scandalized by the way Elvis moved his hips when he sang "rock and roll." But how many realized what the phrase rock and roll meant? Cultural historian Michael Ventura, investigating the roots of African-American music, found that rock 'n' roll was a term that originated in the juke joints of the South. Long in use by the time Elvis appeared, Ventura explains the phrase "hadn't meant the name of a music, it meant 'to fuck.' 'Rock,' by itself, has pretty much meant that, in those circles, since the twenties at least." By the mid-1950s, when the phrase was becoming widely used in mainstream culture, Ventura says the disc jockeys "either didn't know what they were saying or were too sly to admit what they knew."
Author: Christopher Ryan
9. "The way in which mathematicians and physicists and historians talk is quite different, and what a physicist means by physical intuition and what a mathematician means by beauty or elegance are things worth thinking about."
Author: Clifford Geertz
10. "The best writers attempt to become alternative historians."
Author: Colum McCann
11. "You know historians - can't leave a puzzle alone"
Author: Diana Gabaldon
12. "History had its own way of explaining things. The way historians explain things is by telling a story."
Author: Donald Kagan
13. "I can see that you are a true historian because you really always ought to ask that question about anybody at a different place or a different time: What's the same and what's different?"
Author: Donald Kagan
14. "For better than thirty years, as a working historian, I have written on leaders I knew, such as Lyndon Johnson, and interviewed intimates of the Kennedy family and many who knew Franklin Roosevelt, a leader perhaps as indispensable in his way as was Lincoln to the social and political direction of the country. After living with the subject"
Author: Doris Kearns Goodwin
15. "The novel is a formidable mass, and it is so amorphous - no mountain in it to climb, no Parnassus or Helicon, not even a Pisgah. It is most distinctly one of the moister areas of literature - irrigated by a hundred rills and occasionally degenerating into a swamp. I do not wonder that the poets despise it, though they sometimes find themselves in it by accident. And I am not surprised at the annoyance of the historians when by accident it finds itself among them."
Author: E.M. Forster
16. "Historians tell the story of the past, novelists the story of the present."
Author: Edmond De Goncourt
17. "The theologian may indulge the pleasing task of describing Religion as she descended from Heaven, arrayed in her native purity. A more melancholy duty is imposed on the historian. He must discover the inevitable mixture of error and corruption which she contracted in a long residence upon Earth, among a weak and degenerate race of beings."
Author: Edward Gibbon
18. "I would not be at all surprised to find that it was for gold that Cain committed the first murder. (It happened a very long time ago, and Holy Writ, though no doubt divinely inspired, is a trifle careless about details. God is not a historian)."
Author: Elizabeth Peters
19. "A good historian is timeless; although he is a patriot, he will never flatter his country in any respect."
Author: Francois Fenelon
20. "Geologists search for the meaning to be read into the piled-up strata of the earth much as a historian might turn the pages of an ancient, damaged manuscript. The astronomer seeks the answer to his questions in the depths of space. Still other men concentrate on the scriptures alone. The wise man searches all these and other sources, knowing that all are communications from the same divine source and certain that, if followed far enough, all will guide him back to the Divine Presence."
Author: Henry Eyring
21. "As [ale] is the liquor of modern historians,..., it ought likewise to be the potation of their readers, since every book ought to be read with the same spirit and in the same manner as it is writ."
Author: Henry Fielding
22. "How well Shakespeare knew how to improve and exalt little circumstances, when he borrowed them from circumstantial or vulgar historians."
Author: Horace Walpole
23. "After the war, historian Marilyn Young warned: The U.S. can destroy Iraq's highways, but not build its own; create the conditions for epidemic in Iraq, but not offer health care to millions of Americans. It can excoriate Iraqi treatment of the Kurdish minority, but not deal with domestic race relations; create homelessness abroad but not solve it here; keep a half million troops drug free as part of a war, but refuse to fund the treatment of millions of drug addicts at home. . . . We shall lose the war after we have won it."
Author: Howard Zinn
24. "The motives behind scientism are culturally significant. They have been mixed, as usual: genuine curiosity in search of truth; the rage for certainty and for unity; and the snobbish desire to earn the label scientist when that became a high social and intellectual rank. But these efforts, even though vain, have not been without harm, to the inventors and to the world at large. The "findings" have inspired policies affecting daily life that were enforced with the same absolute assurance as earlier ones based on religion. At the same time, the workers in the realm of intuition, the gifted finessers - artists, moralists, philosophers, historians, political theorists, and theologians - were either diverted from their proper task, while others were looking on them with disdain as dabblers in the suburbs of Truth."
Author: Jacques Barzun
25. "In the more recently disclosed field of history in the ancient Near East, however, there has been no such sense of responsibility displayed by historians either in Europe or America."
Author: James Henry Breasted
26. "Many modern Christians think of the New Testament as a book outside of history, something that was just suddenly there. Historians of Christianity, able to trace its gradual authorship and formation, nonetheless typically find themselves describing this development as an anonymous process, a spontaneous evolution accomplished by the nameless and faceless members of ancient communities of faith. ... But when it comes to the origin of the New Testament, we ought to do better, and we can."
Author: Jason D. BeDuhn
27. "This was the start of a period that blurs as I try to recall it. Incidents seem to cascade and merge. Events become feelings, fellings become events. Head and heart are contrary historians."
Author: Jerry Spinelli
28. "You see, I have been at revaluing myself in the last few days. I may have some value to historians because I have destroyed a few things. The builder of your Cathedral is forgotten even now, but I, who burned it, may be remembered for a hundred years or so. And that may mean something or other about mankind."
Author: John Steinbeck
29. "(What Jim had seen tallied with studies conducted after the Second WorldWar by the military historian General S.L.A. Marshall. He interviewed thousands of American infantrymen and concluded that only 15-20 per cent of them had actually shot to kill. The rest had fired high or not fired at all, busying themselves however else they could. And 98 per cent of the soldiers who did shoot to kill were later found to have been deeply traumatized by their actions. The other 2 per cent were diagnosed as ‘aggressive psychopathic personalities', who basically didn't mind killing people under any circumstances, at home or abroad.The conclusion—in the words of Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman of the Killology Research Group—was: ‘there is something about continuous, inescapable combat which will drive 98 per cent of all men insane, and the other 2 per cent were crazy when they got there'.)"
Author: Jon Ronson
30. "Unless men may come to a reasonable, solid persuasion and conviction of the truth of the gospel, by the internal evidences of it, . . . by a sight of its glory; it is impossible that those who are illiterate, and unacquainted with history, should have any thorough and effectual conviction of it at all. They may without this, see a great deal of probability of it; it may be reasonable for them to give much credit to what learned men and historians tell them. . . . But to have a conviction, so clear, and evident, and assuring, as to be sufficient to induce them, with boldness to sell all, confidently and fearlessly to run the venture of the loss of all things, and of enduring the most exquisite and long continued torments, and to trample the world under foot, and count all things but dung for Christ, the evidence they can have from history, cannot be sufficient."
Author: Jonathan Edwards
31. "As several historians have pointed out, it would have made little sense for Fidel to do something that would risk having his country invaded in retaliation, just to make Lyndon Johnson President."
Author: Lamar Waldron
32. "When it is impossible to stretch the very elastic threads of historical ratiocination any farther, when actions are clearly contrary to all that humanity calls right or even just, the historians produce a saving conception of ‘greatness.' ‘Greatness,' it seems, excludes the standards of right and wrong. For the ‘great' man nothing is wrong, there is no atrocity for which a ‘great' man can be blamed."
Author: Leo Tolstoy
33. "As all historians know, the past is a great darkness, and filled with echoes. Voices may reach us from it; but what they say to us is imbued with the obscurity of the matrix out of which they come; and try as we may, we cannot always decipher them precisely in the clearer light of our day."
Author: Margaret Atwood
34. "A historian who would convey the truth must lie. Often he must enlarge the truth by diameters, otherwise his reader would not be able to see it."
Author: Mark Twain
35. "In any case, Cide Hamete Benengeli was a very careful historian, and very accurate in all things, as can be clearly seen in the details he relates to us, for although they are trivial and inconsequential, he does not attempt to pass over them in silence; his example could be followed by solemn historians who recount actions so briefly and succinctly that we can barely taste them, and leave behind in the inkwell, through carelessness, malice, or ignorance, the most substantive part of the work."
Author: Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra
36. "Historians predict the past for a living."
Author: Mokokoma Mokhonoana
37. "Inrealized how valuable the art and practice of writing letters are, and how important it is to remind people of what a treasure letters--handwritten letters--can be. In our throwaway era of quick phone calls, faxes, and email, it's all to easy never to find the time to write letters. That's a great pity--for historians and the rest of us."
Author: Nancy Reagan
38. "Memory is a poet, not a historian."
Author: Paul Geraldy
39. "The ordinary routines of life are never chronicled by the historian, but they make up almost the whole of experience."
Author: Peter Ackroyd
40. "So, then, the best of the historian is subject to the poet; for whatsoever action or faction, whatsoever counsel, policy, or war-stratagem the historian is bound to recite, that may the poet, if he list, with his imitation make his own, beautifying it both for further teaching and more delighting, as it pleaseth him; having all, from Dante's Heaven to his Hell, under the authority of his pen."
Author: Philip Sidney
41. "Imagine a society entirely absorbed in its own historicity. It would be incapable of producing historians. Living entirely under the sign of the future, it would satisfy itself with automatic self-recording processes and auto-inventory machines, postponing indefinitely the task of understanding itself"
Author: Pierre Nora
42. "[Egyptian Historian to Solon, Plato's ancestor]O Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are never anything but children, and there is not an old man among you. Solon in return asked him what he meant. I mean to say, he replied, that in mind you are all young; there is no old opinion handed down among you by ancient tradition, nor any science which is hoary with age. And I will tell you why. There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes."
Author: Plato
43. "The U.S. Army records alone for World War II weigh 17,000 tons, and even the best historians have not done more than just scratch the surface. The story is such that 500 years from now people will be writing and reading about it."
Author: Rick Atkinson
44. "Whether we are reading the Bible for the first time or standing in a field in Israel next to a historian and an archaeologist and a scholar, the Bible meets us where we are. That is what truth does"
Author: Rob Bell
45. "I worked for a brief spell as a journalist, but soon I discovered that I didn't want to be a journalist - I wanted to be a historian."
Author: Robert Darnton
46. "He glanced around the reading room and closed his eyes, trying to keep hold of the past for a minute longer, a fattening and hungover middle-aged historian in a black corduroy suit."
Author: Robert Harris
47. "For his part, Mendeleev scanned Lecoq de Boisbaudran's data on gallium and told the experimentalist, with no justification, that he must have measured something wrong, because the density and weight of gallium differed from Mendeleev's predictions. This betrays a flabbergasting amount of gall, but as science philosopher-historian Eric Scerri put it, Mendeleev always "was willing to bend nature to fit his grand philosophical scheme." The only difference between Mendeleev and crackpottery is that Mendeleev was right: Lecoq de Boisbaudran soon retracted his data and published results that corroborated Mendeleev's predictions."
Author: Sam Kean
48. "Presidential legacies are valuable things, too valuable to be left up to historians."
Author: Thomas Frank
49. "The issue of civil rights was too much for the establishment to handle. One of the chapters of history that's least studied by historians is the 300 to 500 riots in the U.S. between 1965 and 1970."
Author: Tom Hayden
50. "The Jewish historian Hannah Arendt, in her book about the trial of Nazi administrator Adolf Eichmann, observes that in many cases the Nazi camps were run by ordinary bureaucrats: the evil was astonishing in its banality."
Author: Victoria Finlay

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I like the idea of defying the convention of what it is to be in your 40s, or 50s, or 60s."
Author: Anthony Kiedis

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