Quotations about   historian

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The contemporary has no perspective; everything is in the foreground and appears the same size. Little matters loom big, and great matters are sometimes missed because their outlines cannot be seen. Viet­nam and Panama are given four-column headlines today, but the historian 50 or 100 years hence will put them in a chap­ter under a general heading we have not yet thought of.

Barbara W. Tuchman (1912-1989) American historian and author
“Can History Be Served Up Hot?” New York Times (8 Mar 1964)
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Added on 12-May-15 | Last updated 12-May-15
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Left to themselves, the facts do not speak; left to themselves they do not exist, not really, since for all practical purposes there is no fact until some one affirms it.

Carl L. Becker (1873-1945) American historian
“Everyman His Own Historian” (3), speech, American Historical Association, Minneapolis (29 Dec 1931)
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Added on 20-Jan-15 | Last updated 20-Jan-15
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Achilles exists only through Homer. Take away the art of writing from this world, and you will probably take away its glory.

François-René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848) French writer, politican, diplomat
Les Natchez (1826)
Added on 18-Mar-14 | Last updated 18-Mar-14
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Writers the most learned, the most accurate in details, and the soundest in tendency, frequently fall into a habit which can neither be cured nor pardoned — the habit of making history into the proof of their theories.

John Dalberg, Lord Acton (1834-1902) British historian
“The History of Freedom in Antiquity,” Speech, Bridgenorth Institute (28 Feb 1877)
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Added on 4-Mar-14 | Last updated 12-Feb-20
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History, like beauty, depends largely on the beholder, so when you read that, for example, David Livingstone discovered the Victoria Falls, you might be forgiven for thinking that there was nobody around the Falls until Livingstone arrived on the scene.

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African cleric, Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
“Fortieth Anniversary of the Republic,” speech (1981)

See Richard Cumberland.
Added on 28-Nov-11 | Last updated 14-Jan-15
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No one can understand history without continually relating the long periods which are constantly mentioned to the experiences of our own short lives. Five years is a lot. Twenty years is the horizon to most people. Fifty years is antiquity. To understand how the impact of destiny fell upon any generation of men one must first imagine their position and then apply the time-scale of our own lives.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British statesman and author
A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Vol. 1 “The Birth of Britain” (1956-58)
Added on 27-Apr-11 | Last updated 12-Nov-14
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The present, as historians well know, re-creates the past. This is partly because, once we know how things have come out, we tend to rewrite the past in terms of historical inevitability.

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-2007) American historian, author, social critic
“The Historian as Participant,” Daedalus (Spring 1971)
Added on 18-Feb-11 | Last updated 18-Dec-19
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