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The duty of a historian is simply to understand and then convey that understanding, no more than that.
A couple years ago, the novelist Russell Banks told me he was reading the ancient Greek historian Herodotus. I asked why. He said, 'Because I've always wanted to and am tired of having my reading assigned.' I thought it was a marvelous declaration of independence.
I tried, after I wrote 'Twilight,' to read 'The Historian,' because it was the big thing that summer. But I can't read other people's vampires. If it's too close, I get upset; if it's too far away, I get upset. It just makes me very neurotic.
If anti-Semitism is a variety of racism, it is a most peculiar variety, with many unique characteristics. In my view as a historian, it is so peculiar that it deserves to be placed in a quite different category. I would call it an intellectual disease, a disease of the mind, extremely infectious and massively destructive.
The only protection as a historian is to institute a process of research and writing that minimizes the possibility of error. And that I have tried to do, aided by modern technology, which enables me, having long since moved beyond longhand, to use a computer for both organizing and taking notes.
Doris Kearns Goodwin
I'm not an historian but I can get interested - obsessively interested - with any aspect of the past, whether it's palaeontology or archaeology or the very recent past.
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.
I went to medical school after having decided to do so somewhere between my junior and senior year at Harvard - very late. I initially wanted to be an intellectual historian.
The novelist must look on humanity without partiality or prejudice. His sympathy, like that of the historian, must be unbounded, and untainted by sect or party.
I've said before that I am not a historian and that when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust, it is the historians that should reflect on it.
It was necessary, as a black historian, to have a personal agenda.
John Hope Franklin
Too rigid specialization is almost as bad for a historian's mind, and for his ultimate reputation, as too early an indulgence in broad generalization and synthesis.
Samuel E. Morison
Both the historian and the novelist view history as the struggle of a tiny minority, able and determined to make judgments, which is up against a vast and densely packed majority of the blind, who are led by their instincts and unable to think for themselves.
I wanted to work in the arts. My dream come true would be to be an architectural historian and work with the royal palaces and all the fabulous art collections. But I'm not committed enough.
Why should a novelist not also be a historian? To force unnatural divisions within the English language is to work against its capacious and accommodating nature. To expect a writer to produce only novels, or only histories, is equivalent to demanding from a composer that he or she write only string quartets or piano sonatas.
The historian is, by definition, absolutely incapable of observing the facts which he examines.
Yet enthusiasm is no excuse for the historian going off balance. He should remind the reader that outcomes were neither inevitable nor foreordained, but subject to a thousand changes and chances.
Samuel E. Morison
The historian must have some conception of how men who are not historians behave. Otherwise he will move in a world of the dead. He can only gain that conception through personal experience, and he can only use his personal experiences when he is a genius.
E. M. Forster
The historian is a prophet looking backward.
Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel
Hindsight is the historian's necessary vice.
I feel like I've always been a full-time historian, but nobody knows it.
I am not trying to be a historian and a dramatist; I'm a dramatist, a dramatic historian, or one who does a dramatic interpretation of history.
I'm no politician. I'm an historian who has learned through a lifetime of studying that nothing in the world beats universal education.
You're not a historian, but most historians will tell you that they make very discrete judgment as to what facts to omit in order to make their book into some shape, some length that can be managed.
Maya Angelou, the famous African American poet, historian, and civil rights activist who is hailed be many as one of the great voices of contemporary literature, believes a struggle only makes a person stronger.
Michael N. Castle
C. S. Lewis
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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