Quotations about   historian

Note that not all quotations have been tagged, so the Search function may find additional quotations on this topic.



Historians can sometimes explain, or at any rate discuss the immediate causes of some great event. Beyond that they can do little more than arrive at the platitude that every generation is, to some extent, responsible for what happened afterwards. In this way, we can finally reach the preposterous conclusion that the ancient Romans were responsible for the First World War, when they failed to civilize the Germans. This is sometimes called learning from history.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
“What Else Indeed?” New York Review of Books (5 Aug 1965)
    (Source)
Added on 27-Sep-21 | Last updated 27-Sep-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Taylor, A. J. P.

History is not a catalogue but a version of events … a convincing version of events. If an historian is any good, he is convinced by his own version of events and then tries to put this conviction across.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
“The view from Twisden Rd.”, interview by Duncan Fallowell, The Spectator (28 May 1983)
    (Source)
Added on 13-Sep-21 | Last updated 13-Sep-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Taylor, A. J. P.

Men write history for the same reason they write poetry, study the properties of numbers, or play football — for the joy of creation; men read history for the same reason they listen to music or watch cricket — for the joy of appreciation.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
“The Historian,” Manchester Guardian (5 Aug 1938)
    (Source)
Added on 16-Aug-21 | Last updated 16-Aug-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Taylor, A. J. P.

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)
    (Source)
Added on 12-May-15 | Last updated 12-May-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Tuchman, Barbara

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)
    (Source)
Added on 20-Jan-15 | Last updated 20-Jan-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Becker, Carl

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
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Chateaubriand, Francois-Rene

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)
    (Source)
Added on 4-Mar-14 | Last updated 12-Feb-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Acton, John Dalberg (Lord)

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 (1931-2021) South African cleric, Anglican 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
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Tutu, Desmond

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
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Churchill, Winston

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
Link to this post | 1 comment
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Schlesinger, Arthur

Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting and doing things historians usually record, while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry, and even whittle statues. The story of civilization is the story of what happened on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river.

William James (Will) Durant (1885-1981) American historian, teacher, philosopher
Quoted in Jim Hicks, “Spry Old Team Does It Again,” Life (18 Oct 1963)
    (Source)

Durant says this is what he came up with when asked to sum up civilization in a half-hour ("I did it in less than a minute, this way").

This source is Durant recounting the passage in a Life magazine interview, which is often mis-cited as the origin. The quote is also sometimes vaguely attributed to his and Ariel Durant's The Story of Civilization, their 11-volume work (1935-75) (the Life article was on the publication of Vol. 8, The Age of Louis XIV (1963)), but I cannot find it in any of the volumes to that date.
Added on 15-Feb-04 | Last updated 7-Sep-22
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Durant, William James

The first law for the historian is that he shall never utter an untruth. The second is that he shall suppress nothing that is true. Moreover, there shall be no suspicion of partiality in his writing, or of malice.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Oratore, Book 2
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Cicero, Marcus Tullius