Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Is history good for you? Pros and cons


“ . . . a page of history is worth a volume of logic.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
– George Santayana

“A people without history is like wind on the buffalo grass.”
– Sioux proverb

“[History is] a pact between the dead, the living, and the yet unborn.”
– Edmund Burke

“History is a vast early warning system.”
-Norman Cousins

“History is philosophy learned from examples.”
-Dionysus of Halicarnassus

“History . . . Illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life.”
– Cicero

“History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.”
– John F. Kennedy

“History is, in its essentials, the science of change. It knows and it teaches that it is impossible to find two events that are ever exactly alike, because the conditions from which they spring are never identical.”
– Marc Bloch

“History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.”
– David C. McCullough

“This above all makes history useful and desirable; it unfolds before our eyes a glorious record of exemplary actions.”
– Livy

“Again I entered my smithy to work and forge something from the noble material of time past.”
– Jean Froissart

“He who puts out his hand to stop the wheel of history will have his fingers crushed.”
– Lech Walesa

“History is the only laboratory we have in which to test the consequences of thought.”
– Etienne Gilson

“The search for the truth for truth’s sake is the mark of the historian.”
– B. H. Liddell Hart

“Not to know what has been transacted in former times is to be always a child. If no use is made of the labors of past ages, the world must remain always in the infancy of knowledge.”
– Cicero



“History is more or less bunk.”
– Henry Ford

“. . . we ought to distrust all ancient histories. Fontenelle . . . declared that they were fables agreed upon.”

“[History] is very tiresome; and yet I often think it odd that it should be so dull, for a great deal of it must be invention.”
– Jane Austen

“History never embraces more than a small part of reality.”
– François de La Rochefoucauld

“Anything but history, for history must be false.”
– Sir Robert Walpole

“A man’s eyes should be torn out if he can only see the past.”
– Joseph Stalin, quoting a Russian proverb

“All history resolves itself very easily into the biography of a few stout and earnest persons.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“. . . that vast Mississippi of falsehood called history . . .”
– Matthew Arnold

“Nostalgia is a seductive liar.”
– George Ball

“History is just the portrayal of crimes and misfortunes.”
– Voltaire

“History is nothing more than the belief in the senses, the belief in falsehood.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

Most history is a record of the triumphs, disasters, and follies of top people.”
– Philip Howard

“History, n. An account, mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools”
– Ambrose Bierce

“History repeats itself; historians repeat one another.”
– Rupert Brooke

“It is not worthwhile to try to keep history from repeating itself, for man’s character will always make the preventing of the repetitions impossible.”
– Mark Twain

“People who make history know nothing about history. You can see that in the sort of history they make.”
– G.K. Chesterton

“The duty we owe to history is to rewrite it.”
– Oscar Wilde

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”
– Attributed to Winston Churchill

“History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind.”
– Edward Gibbon





Fall 2019  |  Sections  |  History Essays

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