History Quotes

Most popular history quotes

People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.
What's past is prologue.

the past

History is a stern judge.
History is a bath of blood.
Today is yesterday's pupil.

learning the past yesterday

History is written by the victors.
History is an agreed-upon fiction.
History is a set of lies agreed upon.
History doesn't pass the dishes again.
History is a vast early-warning system.
History is a vast early warning system.
History is the zoology of the human race.
History is the unfolding of miscalculation.
A page of history is worth a volume of logic.
Legend remains victorious in spite of history.
History is a novel whose author is the people.
Human history is in essence a history of ideas.
History is a better guide than good intentions.
Historians in general are great toadies of power.
History gets thicker as it approaches recent times.
You have to know the past to understand the present.
History repeats itself. Historians repeat each other.
We are not makers of history. We are made by history.
We learn from history that we do not learn from history.
Those who are making history seldom have time to record it.
The history of the world is but the biography of great men.
The history of the world is the history of a privileged few.
Persistent prophecy is a familiar way of assuring the event.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

the past

History to the defeated
May say Alas but cannot help or pardon.
The only thing new in the world is the history you do not know.
We can only know where we're going if we know where we've been.
That's the history of the world.  His story is told, hers isn't.
What his imagination is to the poet, facts are to the historian.

facts imagination poets

History's like a story in a way: it depends on who's telling it.
The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.

the past

An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted.

illusion unhappiness

What we learn from history is that people don't learn from history.
History is organized memory, and the organization is all important!
Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you!
Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back into the same box.
— Italian proverb

Italian proverbs life proverbs

Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.


Historic continuity with the past is not a duty, it is only a necessity.
The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice.
Technology is a very human activity - and so is the history of technology.


History is littered with the wars which everybody knew would never happen.


All history is relevant, but the history of technology is the most relevant.


For history is to the nation as memory rather as memory is to the individual.
We are the children of our age, but children who can never know their mother.
Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.


The poets have familiarized more people with history than have the historians.


The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
The politician performs upon the stage; the historian looks behind the scenery.


The History of the World is nothing but the development of the Idea of Freedom.


History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies.
Men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all the other alternatives.

geopolitics Israel

A nation forgetful and disrespectful of its past has no future, and deserves none.
— Daily Telegraph (London)
Man is a history-making creature who can neither repeat his past nor leave it behind.

the past

If past history was all there was to the game, the richest people would be librarians.
History's biggest battles in the last analysis are fought in the hidden corners of our lives.
The essential matter of history is not what happened but what people thought or said about it.
The tapestry of history has no point at which you can cut it and leave the design intelligible.
If we do not know our own history, we are doomed to live it as though it were our private fate.
The most persistent sound which reverberates through man's history is the beating of war drums.


If a man could say nothing against a character but what he can prove, history could not be written.
Why doesn't the past decently bury itself, instead of sitting waiting to be admired by the present?

the past

There is a way to look at the past. Don't hide from it. lt will not catch you if you don't repeat it.
History is not, of course, a cookbook offering pretested recipes.  It teaches by analogy, not by maxims.
Whoever doesn't know the past must have little understanding of the present and no vision of the future.
We spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let's face it, is mostly the history of stupidity.


History is a guide to navigation in perilous times.  History is who we are and why we are the way we are.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.


Fable is more historical than fact, because fact tells us about one man and fable tells us about a million men.


Just as philosophy is the study of other people's misconceptions, so history is the study of other people's mistakes.


Backward is just not a natural direction for Americans to look—historical ignorance remains a national characteristic.

America ignorance

History is the archives of human experiences and of the thoughts of past generations; history is our collective memory.
One reason we think the past was more violent than reality is because historians have an incentive to discuss wars, not peace.
That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.
Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all. The conscientious historian will correct these defects.
History may be read as the story of the magnificent rearguard action fought during several thousand years by dogma against curiosity.
If you know from history the danger, then part of the danger is over because it may not take you by surprise as it did your ancestors.


History is the sole consolation left to the people, for it shows them that their ancestors were as unhappy as they are, or even more so.


History never looks like history when you are living through it.  It always looks confusing and messy, and it always feels uncomfortable.
History, a mental construct which extends human life beyond its span, can give meaning to each life and serve as a necessary anchor for us.
Someone said, 'The dead writers are remote from us because we know so much more than they did.' Precisely, and they are that which we know.
I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.
History does not treat kindly those societies that diagnose their structural weaknesses only after those weaknesses have become irreversible.
Professor Johnston often said that if you didn't know history, you didn't know anything.  You were a leaf that didn't know it was part of a tree.
History is a conversation and sometimes a shouting match between present and past, though often the voices we most want to hear are barely audible.
The only thing one can learn from history is that actions have consequences and that certain actions and certain choices once made are irretrievable.
There is no such thing as a neutral or purely objective historian. Without an opinion a historian would be simply a ticking clock, and unreadable besides.
We carry history in our bones. Our parents, our genetics, our cultures all shape what we become. Everything we decide to do is informed by what was done before us.
What experience and history teach is this—that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it.
Every great turn of history's wheel takes us in a new direction, but the destination is not easily discernible because the lessons of history are not fixed and immutable.


History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day.  It is also a compass that people use to find themselves on the map of human geography.
History smiles at all attempts to force its flow into theoretical patterns or logical grooves; it plays havoc with our generalizations, breaks our rules; history is baroque.
History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history that we make today.
If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us!  But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives is a lantern on the stern, which shines only on the waves behind us.


[In primary school] I was introduced to the danger of not having your own story.  There is that great proverb—that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.


All true histories contain instruction; though, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity that the dry, shriveled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut.


The truth that all historical writing, even the most honest, is unconsciously subjective, since every age is bound, in spite of itself, to make the dead perform whatever tricks it finds necessary for its own peace of mind.
We can think of history as a kind of layer cake in which a number of different layers run side by side through time, each with a dynamic of its own, and yet each from time to time profoundly penetrating and interacting with others.
Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.
Judging from the main portions of the history of the world, justice is always in jeopardy, peace walks amid hourly pitfalls, and of slavery, meanness, the craft of tyrants, and the credulity of the populace...no voice can at any time say, "They are not."
Identities come and go according to textbooks and reinvented pasts. Had the Greeks (then self identified as Romaic) opened coffee shops and diners in America a hundred years earlier, these would have been called "St Nicholas", "St Demetrius", "H. Sofia", not "Acropolis" and "Apollo".
The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false.
I really believe in history, and that's something people don't believe in anymore. I know that what we do and think is a historical creation. I have very few beliefs, but this is certainly a real belief: that most everything we think of as natural is historical and has roots — specifically in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the so-called Romantic revolutionary period — and were essentially still dealing with expectations and feelings that were formulated at that time, like ideas about happiness, individuality, radical social change, and pleasure. We were given a vocabulary that came into existence at a particular historical moment.