quotations about history
The history of the world is but the biography of great men.
THOMAS CARLYLE, Heroes and Hero-Worship
History, n. an account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.
AMBROSE BIERCE, The Devil's Dictionary
History ... is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind.
EDWARD GIBBON, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice.
MARK TWAIN, Following the Equator
History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity.
CICERO, Pro Publio Sestio
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
GEORGE SANTAYANA, The Life of Reason
The memories of men are too frail a thread to hang history from.
JOHN STILL, The Jungle Tide
All great historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice ... the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.
KARL MARX, The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.
H.G. WELLS, The Outline of History
The only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history we make today.
HENRY FORD, Chicago Tribune, May 25, 1916
History is like a bloodstain that keeps on showing on the wall no matter how many new owners take possession, no matter how many times we paint over it.
PETER CAREY, attributed, Ghost Empire: How the French Almost Conquered North America
We cannot escape history.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN, annual message, Dec. 1, 1862
Human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacriﬁce, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives.
HOWARD ZINN, A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
And history with all her volumes vast,
Hath but one page.
LORD BYRON, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
When you see a thing like that, a thing that becomes a newsreel, you begin to feel you are a carrier of some solemn scrap of history.
DON DELILLO, Underworld
History allows us to see the obvious -- but unfortunately, not until it is too late.
BRIAN HERBERT & KEVIN J. ANDERSON, Dune: House Atreides
The facts of history have been too well rehearsed.
JOHN ASHBERY, "The System,", Three Poems
History is instructive. And what it suggests to people is that even if they do little things, if they walk on the picket line, if they join a vigil, if they write a letter to their local newspaper. Anything they do, however small, becomes part of a much, much larger sort of flow of energy. And when enough people do enough things, however small they are, then change takes place.
HOWARD ZINN, interview, Rawstory, Sep. 9, 2005
The tapestry of history is woven of many threads.
JACQUELINE CAREY, Kushiel's Dart
Is the only lesson of history to be that mankind is unteachable?
WINSTON CHURCHILL, speech at Zurich University, Sep. 19, 1946