World War I was not inevitable, as many historians say. It could have been avoided, and it was a diplomatically botched negotiation.
Half of the modern world goes back as far as Pearl Jam. The real historians go back to U2. But they need to go back further. They have to go back to the '50s and '60s, where things started. That's how you get to be your own personality, by studying the masters. Rock and roll was white kids trying to make black music and failing, gloriously!
Aging nations have arteries clogged with obsolete laws, slowing blood flow and preventing oxygen from reaching all parts of the body politic. Physicians call this arteriosclerosis; historians see decline of empire.
It may seem unfashionable to say so, but historians should seize the imagination as well as the intellect. History is, in a sense, a story, a narrative of adventure and of vision, of character and of incident. It is also a portrait of the great general drama of the human spirit.
Historians and archaeologists will one day discover that the ads of our time are the richest and most faithful reflections that any society ever made of its entire range of activities.
Most historians agree that Abraham Lincoln was the most important man to ever occupy the White House because he abolished slavery and kept the states united through a bloody civil war.
So this was the big secret historians keep to themselves: historical research is wildly seductive and fun. There's a thrill in the process of digging, then piecing together details like a puzzle.
The issue of civil rights was too much for the establishment to handle. One of the chapters of history that's least studied by historians is the 300 to 500 riots in the U.S. between 1965 and 1970.
In the closing years of the nineteenth century, African-American historians began to look at their people's history from their vantage point and their point of view.
Economists tend to think they are much, much smarter than historians, than everybody. And this is a bit too much because at the end of the day, we don't know very much in economics.