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Margaret MacMillan quotes (showing 1-30 of 30)

“We can learn from history, but we can also deceive ourselves when we selectively take evidence from the past to justify what we have already made up our minds to do.”
Margaret MacMillan
“The delegates to the peace conference after World War I "tried to impose a rational order on an irrational world.”
Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World
“The glories of the past compensated for the imperfections of the present.”
Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World
“A menudo se usa la historia como una serie de cuentos morales para aumentar la solidaridad de grupo o, cosa más defendible, según mi punto de vista, para explicar el desarrollo de instituciones importantes como los parlamentos y conceptos como la democracia y de ese modo la enseñanza del pasado se ha convertido en algo fundamental a la hora de debatir la forma de inculcar y trasmitir valores. El peligro es que ese objetivo, que puede ser admirable, acabe por distorsionar la historia, ya sea convirtiéndola en un relato simplista en el cual sólo hay blanco y negro, o bien representándola como si todo tendiese hacia una sola dirección, ya sea el progreso humano o el triunfo de un grupo en particular. La historia explicada de este modo aplana la complejidad de la experiencia humana y no deja espacio para las distintas interpretaciones del pasado.”
Margaret MacMillan, The Uses and Abuses of History
“La historia es una forma de hacer valer la comunidad imaginada. Los nacionalistas, por poner un ejemplo, aseguran que la nación siempre ha existido en esa zona convenientemente vaga de la "niebla del tiempo"(...)En realidad, examinando cualquier grupo vemos que su identidad es un proceso y no algo fijo. Los grupos se definen y redefinen a sí mismos a lo largo del tiempo y como respueta a procesos internos, un despertar religios quizá, o a presiones externas. Si uno está oprimido y victimizado(...) esa situación se convierte en parte de la imagen que uno tiene de sí mismo. Y a veces incluso conduce a una competencia bastante indecorosa por el victimismo.”
Margaret MacMillan, The Uses and Abuses of History
“In the fluid world of 1919, it was possible to dream of great change, or have nightmares about the collapse of order.”
Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World
“What may seem like a reasonable way of protecting oneself can look very different from the other side of the border.”
Margaret MacMillan, The War that Ended Peace: How Europe abandoned Peace for the First World War
“As the American historian John Lewis Gaddis put it, it is like looking in a rearview mirror: if you only look back, you will land in the ditch, but it helps to know where you have come from and who else is on the road.”
Margaret MacMillan, Dangerous Games
“They should have remembered that famous saying of Bismarck: “Preventive war is like committing suicide out of fear of death.”
Margaret MacMillan, The War That Ended Peace: The Road To 1914
“In a secular world, which is what most of us in Europe and North America live in, history takes on the role of showing us good and evil, virtues and vices. Religion no longer plays as important a part as it once did in setting moral standards and transmitting values. . . .History with a capital H is being called in to fill the void. It restores a sense not necessarily of a divine being but of something above and beyond human beings. It is our authority: it can vindicate us and judge us, and damn those who oppose us.”
Margaret MacMillan, The Uses and Abuses of History
“We should not be impressed when our leaders say firmly, "History teaches us" or "History will show that we were right."
They can oversimplify and force inexact comparisons just as much as any of us can. Even the clever and the powerful (and the two are not necessarily the same) go confidently off down the wrong paths. It is useful, too, to be reminded, as a citizen, that those in positions of authority do not always know better.”
Margaret MacMillan
“His older compatriot Friedrich Nietzsche had entertained no such hopes: “For long now our entire European culture has been moving with a tormenting tension that grows greater from decade to decade, as if towards a catastrophe: restless, violent, precipitate, like a river that wants to reach its end.”23”
Margaret MacMillan, The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914
“The anarchist who finished his meal in a Paris café and then calmly murdered a fellow diner said merely, “I shall not be striking an innocent if I strike the first bourgeois that I meet.”
Margaret MacMillan, The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914
“The failure of the talks between Chamberlain and the German ambassador in London, the public and private outbursts of the Kaiser, the well-reported anti-British and pro-Boer sentiment among the German public, even the silly controversy over whether Chamberlain had insulted the Prussian army, all left their residue of mistrust and resentments in Britain as well as in Germany.”
Margaret MacMillan, The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914
“China. The Kaiser had temporarily”
Margaret MacMillan, The War that Ended Peace: How Europe abandoned Peace for the First World War
“IF YOU BELIEVE THE DOCTORS,” Salisbury once remarked, “nothing is wholesome; if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent; if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe.”
Margaret MacMillan, The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914
“told the Reichstag that the age of “Cabinet” wars, that is wars determined by rulers for limited ends, was over: “All we have now is people’s war, and any prudent government will hesitate to bring about a war of this nature, with all its incalculable consequences.” The great powers, he went on, will find it difficult to bring such wars to an end or admit defeat: “Gentlemen, it may be a war of seven years’ or of thirty years’ duration—and woe to him who sets Europe alight, who puts the first fuse to the powder keg!”89”
Margaret MacMillan, The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914
“Louvain was a dull place, said a guidebook in 1910, but when the time came it made a spectacular fire.”
Margaret MacMillan
“But the superiority of the British is that it is a matter of complete indifference to them if they appear to be stupid.”
Margaret MacMillan, The War That Ended Peace: The Road To 1914
“Anyone who falls into your hands falls to your sword!”
Margaret MacMillan, The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914
“Part of Nietzsche’s appeal was that it was easy to read a great deal into his work, and people including socialists, vegetarians, feminists, conservatives and, later, the Nazis did. Sadly, Nietzsche was not available to explain himself; he went mad in 1889 and died in 1900, the year of the Paris Exposition.”
Margaret MacMillan, The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914
“Nationalist movements often overlapped with economic and class issues: Rumanian and Ruthenian peasants, for example, challenged their Hungarian and Polish landlords.”
Margaret MacMillan, The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914
“Wilson agreed reluctantly to their attempts: “I don’t much like to make a compromise with people who aren’t reasonable. They will always believe that, by persisting in their claims, they will be able to obtain more.”
Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World
“British would use every means from persuasion to bribery in Morocco and when those failed the wives of British diplomats knew what they had to do to further Britain’s interests.”
Margaret MacMillan, The War that Ended Peace: How Europe abandoned Peace for the First World War
“Perhaps it was no accident that it was a Viennese, Sigmund Freud, who was to come up with the notion of the narcissism of small differences. As he wrote in Civilization and Its Discontents, ‘it is precisely communities with adjoining territories, and related to each other in other ways as well, who are engaged in constant feuds and in ridiculing each other”
Margaret MacMillan, The War that Ended Peace: How Europe abandoned Peace for the First World War
“while civil servants were expected, for example, to work five to six hours a day, few did even that. In the Foreign Office, a new recruit said he rarely received more than three or four files a day to deal with and no one minded if he came in late and left early. In 1903 the British embassy had to wait for ten months to get an answer about the duty on Canadian whisky. ‘The dilatoriness of this country, if continued in progressive ratio, will soon rival that of Turkey,’ a British diplomat complained to London.”
Margaret MacMillan, The War that Ended Peace: How Europe abandoned Peace for the First World War
“The contempt for what the Viennese satirist Karl Kraus called Bürokretinismus served further to undermine public confidence in their government.”
Margaret MacMillan, The War that Ended Peace: How Europe abandoned Peace for the First World War
“Theodore Rex. Roosevelt was driven by ambition, idealism and vanity. As his daughter famously remarked: “My father always wanted to be the corpse at every funeral, the bride at every wedding, and the baby at every christening.”
Margaret MacMillan, The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914
“We have engrossed to ourselves, in a time when other powerful nations were paralysed by barbarism or internal war, an altogether disproportionate share of the wealth and traffic of the world. We have got all we want in territory, and our claim to be left in the unmolested enjoyment of vast and splendid possessions, mainly acquired by violence, largely maintained by force, often seems less reasonable to others than to us.”
Margaret MacMillan, The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914
“3053Geography also gave Russia a rich choice of potential enemies.”
Margaret MacMillan


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