- History is the sum total of the things that could have been avoided. 1876–1967 German statesman: attributed
- History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
1928–2014 American writer: ‘On the Pulse of Morning’ (1993)
- Does history repeat itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce? No, that's too grand, too considered a process. History just burps, and we taste again that raw-onion sandwich it swallowed centuries ago.
A History of the World in 10½ Chapters (1989) ‘Parenthesis’; see Marx 1946– English novelist:
- Disability is everywhere in history, once you begin looking for it, but conspicuously absent in the histories we write.
The new Disability History. American Perspectives (2001) pt. 1 ‘Disability and the justification of inequality in American History’ American historian: Paul K. Longmore and Lauri Umanski (eds.)
- History is a commentary on the various and continuing incapabilities of men. What is history? History is women following behind with the bucket.
The History Boys (2004) 1934– English dramatist and actor:
- history, n. An account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.
c.1914 American writer: The Cynic's Word Book (1906) 1842–
- That great dust-heap called ‘history’.
Obiter Dicta (1884) ‘Carlyle’; see Trotsky 1850–1933 British essayist:
- History repeats itself; historians repeat one another.
Marx 1887–1915 English poet: letter to Geoffrey Keynes, 4 June 1906; see
- It has been said that though God cannot alter the past, historians can; it is perhaps because they can be useful to Him in this respect that He tolerates their existence.
Erewhon Revisited (1901) ch. 14; see Agathon 1835–1902 English novelist:
- To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain forever a child.
bc Roman orator and statesman: De Oratore ch. 34, para. 120 (Marcus Tullius Cicero) 106–43
- History is philosophy from examples.
bc Greek historian: Ars Rhetorica ch. 11, sect. 2 fl. 30–7
- A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
On a winter's afternoon, in a secluded chapel
History is now and England.
Four Quartets ‘Little Gidding’ (1942) pt. 5 1888–1965 American-born British poet, critic, and dramatist:
- History is more or less bunk.
Chicago Tribune 25 May 1916 1863–1947 American car manufacturer and businessman: interview with Charles N. Wheeler in
- History is past politics, and politics is present history.
Methods of Historical Study (1886) 1823–92 English historian:
- What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of man's ideological evolution and the universalism of Western liberal democracy.
Independent 20 September 1989 1952– American historian: in
- History…is, indeed, little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind.
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–88) ch. 3; see Voltaire 1737–94 English historian:
- War makes rattling good history; but Peace is poor reading.
The Dynasts (1904) pt. 1, act 2, sc. 5 1840–1928 English novelist and poet:
- It is difficult at times to repress the thought that history is about as instructive as an abattoir. 1939–2013 Irish poet: Nobel lecture, 7 December 1995
- What experience and history teach is this—that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it.
Lectures on the Philosophy of World History: Introduction (1830, tr. H. B. Nisbet, 1975) introduction 1770–1831 German idealist philosopher:
- Hegel says somewhere that all great events and personalities in world history reappear in one fashion or another. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852) sect. 1; see Hegel 1818–83 German political philosopher:
- Happy the people whose annals are blank in history-books!
History of Frederick the Great bk. 16, ch. 1 1689–1755 French political philosopher: attributed to Montesquieu by Thomas Carlyle in
- And even I can remember
A day when the historians left blanks in their writings,
I mean for things they didn't know.
Draft of XXX Cantos (1930) 1885–1972 American poet:
- Every major horror of history was committed in the name of an altruistic motive.
The Fountainhead (1947) 1905–82 American writer:
- Forgetting and even mistakes in history are an essential part of becoming a nation.
usually quoted as ‘Getting its history wrong is part of being a nation’
What is a Nation? (1882) 1823–92 French philologist and historian:
- Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts;—the book of their deeds, the book of their words, and the book of their art.
St Mark's Rest (1884) 1819–1900 English art and social critic:
- History is not what you thought. It is what you can remember.
1066 and All That (1930) ‘Compulsory Preface’ 1898–1951 and 1898–1968:
- Ignorance is the first requisite of the historian—ignorance, which simplifies and clarifies, which selects and omits, with a placid perfection unattainable by the highest art.
Eminent Victorians (1918) 1880–1932 English biographer:
- History gets thicker as it approaches recent times.
English History 1914–45 (1965) bibliography 1906–90 British historian:
- I have written my work, not as an essay which is to win the applause of the moment, but as a possession for all time.
c.455–c.400 bc Greek historian: History of the Peloponnesian War bk. 1, ch. 22, sect. 18 (tr. Richard Crawley, 1874)
- Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.
The Outline of History (1920) vol. 2, ch. 41, pt. 4 1866–1946 English novelist:
- Too early to say.
in a conversation with Henry Kissinger about the success of revolutions in France, early 1970s. This has been widely quoted as referring to the French revolution of 1789, but Nixon's interpreter Chas Freeman and Chinese archives make clear that while questioned about the French revolution and the Paris Commune, Zhou Enlai in reply was clearly referring to the Paris riots of 1968
Financial Times 10 June 2011 (Chou En Lai) 1898–1976 Chinese Communist statesman, Prime Minister 1949–76: in