Top Historians Quotes

Browse top 124 famous quotes and sayings about Historians by most favorite authors.

Favorite Historians Quotes

1. "Our task as historians is to make past conflicts live again; not to lament the verdict or to wish for a different one. It bewildered me when my old master A. F. Pribram, a very great historian, said in the nineteen-thirties: 'It is still not decided whether the Habsburg monarchy could have found a solution for its national problems.' How can we decide about something that did not happen? Heaven knows, we have difficulty enough in deciding what did happen. Events decided that the Habsburgs had not found a solution for their national problems; that is all we know or need to know. Whenever I read the phrase: 'whether so-and-so acted rightly must be left for historians to decide', I close the book; the writer has moved from history to make-believe."
Author: A.J.P. Taylor
2. "Welcome aboard Mon Remonda. Let's get the rest of your pilots in... so I can get out of this torture suit.""But, sir, I was just going to say how smart you looked in your uniform. I think we ought to stay here, in uniform, a couple of hours so the holographers can capture the image. You know, for the historians.""Wedge, I think I'm going to have you killed.""Yes, sir. I trust you'll wear your dress uniform for an event like that."
Author: Aaron Allston
3. "Fortunately, historians are now beginning to recognise the historic role of Islam as a liberating force for peoples oppressed by the burdens of unjust social systems."
Author: Aly Khan
4. "Historians rewrite the truth every day. What interests us is the truth that gets the reader to reach for his wallet"
Author: Andreï Makine
5. "Writers of historical fiction are not under the same obligation as historians to find evidence for the statements they make. For us it is sufficient if what we say can't be disproved or shown to be false."
Author: Barry Unsworth
6. "America had many other discoverers besides Columbus, but he seems to have made more satisfactory arrangements with the historians than any of the others."
Author: Bill Nye
7. "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
8. "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
9. "I do not know of anything in modern poetry as violently hostile to contemporary life as was the poetry of T. S. Eliot, which so perfectly fitted the mood of the young people between the two wars. I also find much more benevolence towards humanity in younger historians than there was in Spengler or in Toynbee. Still, it is not difficult to sense the disgust of the intellectuals at the new prosperous working class, 'with their eyes glued to the television screen,' who have become indifferent to radical ideas."
Author: Dennis Gabor
10. "Many historians have noted an interesting phenomenon in American life in the years immediately after a war. In the councils of government fierce partisanship replaces the necessary political coalitions of wartime. IN the great arena of social relations -- business, labour, the community -- violence rises, fear and recrimination dominate public discussion, passion prevails over reason. Many historians have noted this phenomenon. It is attributed to the continuance beyond the end of the war of the war hysteria. Unfortunately, the necessary emotional fever for fighting a war cannot be turned off like a water tap. Enemies must continue to be found. The mind and heart cannot be demobilised as quickly as the platoon. On the contrary, like a fiery furnace at white heat, it takes a considerable time to cool."
Author: E.L. Doctorow
11. "Historians tell the story of the past, novelists the story of the present."
Author: Edmond De Goncourt
12. "Nations without a past are contradictions in terms. What makes a nation is the past, what justifies one nation against others is the past, and historians are the people who produce it."
Author: Eric Hobsbawm
13. "Future historians, I hope, will consider the American fast food industry a relic of the twentieth century--a set of attitudes, systems, and beliefs that emerged from postwar southern California, that embodied its limitless faith in technology, that quickly spread across the globe, flourished briefly, and then receded, once its true costs became clear and its thinking became obsolete."
Author: Eric Schlosser
14. "To write history is so difficult that most historians are forced to make concessions to the technique of legende."
Author: Erich Auerbach
15. "We cannot leave history entirely to nonclinical observers and to professional historians."
Author: Erik Erikson
16. "I hope that not only my documentaries, but everybody's documentaries, last. It will really confuse historians in the next century, because they'll have, in addition to all the print material, they'll have all these pictures to look at."
Author: Frederick Wiseman
17. "The wisest thing in the world is to cry out before you are hurt. It is no good to cry out after you are hurt; especially after you are mortally hurt. People talk about the impatience of the populace; but sound historians know that most tyrannies have been possible because men moved too late. it is often essential to resist a tyranny before it exists."
Author: G.K. Chesterton
18. "There are no self-proclaimed villains, only regiments of self-proclaimed saints. Victorious historians rule where good or evil lies."
Author: Glen Cook
19. "I believe that historians and analysts of historical events need the authority of facts supplied by living witnesses to the events, which they make their subject."
Author: Ibrahim Babangida
20. "Historians pick and choose and every one of them picks and chooses the same thing."
Author: Isaac Asimov
21. "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
22. "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
23. "Traditionally art is to create and not to revive. To revive: leave that to the historians, who are looking backward."
Author: Josef Albers
24. "That is why historians surprise me. They seem to have no talent for the likeliness of any situation. They see history like a peepshow; with two-dimensional figures against a distant background."
Author: Josephine Tey
25. "Historians need to treat a participant's own explanation of events with a certain scepticism. It is often the statement made with an eye to the future that is the most suspect."
Author: Julian Barnes
26. "History isn't what happened, history is just what historians tell us."
Author: Julian Barnes
27. "In real life turning points are sneaky. They pass by unlabeled and unheeded. Opportunities are missed, catastrophes unwittingly celebrated. Turning points are only uncovered later, by historians who seek to bring order to a lifetime of tangled moments."
Author: Kate Morton
28. "Historians will have to face the fact that natural selection determined the evolution of cultures in the same manner as it did that of species."
Author: Konrad Lorenz
29. "Many historians contend that Laozi actually lived in the 4th century BC, which was the period of Hundred Schools of Thought and Warring States Period, while others contend he was a mythical figure. Laozi was credited with"
Author: Lao Tzu
30. "Laozi was an ancient Chinese philosopher. According to Chinese tradition, Laozi lived in the 6th century BC, however many historians contend that Laozi"
Author: Lao Tzu
31. "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
32. "At one time, a freethinker was a man who had been brought up in the conceptions of religion, law and morality, who reached freethought only after conflict and difficulty. But now a new type of born freethinkers has appeared, who grow up without so much as hearing that there used to be laws of morality, or religion, that authorities existed... In the old days, you see, if a man - a Frenchman, for instance- wished to get an education, he would have set to work to study the classics, the theologians, the tragedians, historians and philosophers- and you can realize all the intellectual labour involved. But nowadays he goes straight for the literature of negation, rapidly assimilates the essence of the science of negation, and thinks he's finished."
Author: Leo Tolstoy
33. "In taking action we must remember that the things which are happening to the Jews today are but a part of the general disintegration anticipated by philosophers and historians of different schools for almost half a century."
Author: Louis Finkelstein
34. "Historians start with Cleopatra and the pharaohs and comb through every year in human history ever since, looking in every corner of the world for evidence of extraordinary wealth, and almost 20 percent of the names they end up with come from a single generation in a single country."
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
35. "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
36. "Recent fads in history and biography have increasingly exalted the aridity of chronology and fact, and have, with some valid reason, rejected romanticizing and the presumption of guessing at the inner thoughts of historical figures. Unfortunately, the result has largely been not to demythologize the past, but merely to dehumanize and depersonalize it. As Roger Mudd has pointed out, 'Too many of today's historians [and biographers] ... seem to have forgotten that the writing of history is a literary art."
Author: Markham Shaw Pyle
37. "In a period of less than 150 years, to progress from slavery to Pennsylvania Avenue speaks volumes about this family and our nation. Distracted by the rush of our everyday life, we might shrug it off today, but 100 years from now, historians will be discussing this precedent."
Author: Megan Smolenyak
38. "12. Historians today rely on classics like Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, Caesar's Gallic War, and Tacitus's Histories. The earliest copies we have for these date from 1,300, 900, and 700 years after the original writing, respectively, and there are eight extant copies of the first, ten of the second, and two of the third. In contrast, the earliest copy of Mark's gospel is dated at AD 130 (a century after the original writing), and there are 5,000 ancient Greek copies, along with nearly 20,000 Latin and other ancient manuscripts. The sheer volume of ancient manuscripts provides sufficient comparison between copies to provide an accurate reproduction of the original text. Ironically, a number of fashionable scholars attracted to the so-called gnostic gospels as an "alternative Christianity" have far fewer manuscripts, and the original writings cannot be dated any earlier than a century after the canonical Gospels."
Author: Michael S. Horton
39. "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
40. "At some time in their careers, most good historians itch to write a history of the world, endeavor to discover what makes humanity the most destructive and creative of species."
Author: Paul Johnson
41. "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
42. "There are a number of World War II historians I admire: Cornelius Ryan, Mark Stoler, Antony Beevor, to name a few. As for generals, there are those I admire as combat leaders and others I admire because they're great fun to write about."
Author: Rick Atkinson
43. "Commanders and historians are the people who discuss wars; I was in the infantry, and most of the time I did not know where I was or what I was doing except that I was obeying orders and trying not to be killed in any of the variety of horrible ways open to me."
Author: Robertson Davies
44. "Historians will likely give Obama credit for steering the country away from the brink of economic collapse in 2009."
Author: Ron Fournier
45. "Sigh. Here's another fine woman that historians can't believe was real. Of course she was real. Not only is there a splendid Chinese poem called "The Ballad of Mulan", there is also n excellent cartoon by Disney."
Author: Sandi Toksvig
46. "I think the day might come, Bess, when all men will know of Dickon is what they were told by Tudor historians like Rous.""Jesú, no!" Bess sounded both appalled and emphatic. "You mustn't think that. Whatever the lies being told about Dickon now, surely the truth will eventually win out. Scriptures does say that 'Great is truth and it prevails,' and I believe that, Grace."Bess straightened up in the bed, shoved yet another pillow against her back. "I have to believe that," she said quietly. "Not just for Dickon's sake, but for us all. For when all is said and done, the truth be all we have."
Author: Sharon Kay Penman
47. "Historians are left forever chasing shadows, painfully aware of their inability ever to reconstruct a dead world in its completeness however thorough or revealing their documentation. We are doomed to be forever hailing someone who has just gone around the corner and out of earshot."
Author: Simon Schama
48. "If Germany, thanks to Hitler and his successors, were to enslave the European nations and destroy most of the treasures of their past, future historians would certainly pronounce that she had civilized Europe."
Author: Simone Weil
49. "Oh, my dear Vimes, history changes all the time. It is constantly being re-examined and re-evaluated, otherwise how would we be able to keep historians occupied? We can't possibly allow people with their sort of minds to walk around with time on their hands."
Author: Terry Pratchett
50. "Historians are going to look back on rising China and say America, at least under the Bush years, did not get that wrong."
Author: Thomas P. M. Barnett

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The core of me is country. It's what I love. It's what I write. Even when I sing pop stuff, I'm still singing it 'countrily.'"
Author: Ashley Monroe

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