A. J. P. Taylor Quotes

If there had been a strong democratic sentiment in Germany, Hitler would never have come to power . [Germans] deserved what they got when they went round crying for a hero.

A J P Taylor

No matter what political reasons are given for war, the underlying reason is always economic.

Conformity may give you a quiet life; it may even bring you to a University Chair. But all change in history, all advance, comes from the nonconformists. If there had been no trouble-makers, no Dissenters, we should still be living in caves.

If men are to respect each other for what they are, they must cease to respect each other for what they own.

Though the object of being a Great Power is to be able to fight a Great War, the only way of remaining a Great Power is not to fight one.

History is not another name for the past, as many people imply. It is the name for stories about the past.

The great armies, accumulated to provide security and preserve the peace, carried the nations to war by their own weight.

Knowledge breeds doubt, not certainty,
And the more we know the more uncertain we become.

Bismarck fought ‘necessary’ wars and killed thousands, the idealists of the twentieth century fight ‘just’ wars and kill millions.

History is not a catalogue but…a convincing version of events.

A J P Taylor

In 1917 European history, in the old sense, came to an end. World history began. It was the year of Lenin and Woodrow Wilson, both of whom repudiated the traditional standards of political behaviour. Both preached Utopia, Heaven on Earth. It was the moment of birth for our contemporary world.

No war is inevitable until it breaks out.

The present enables us to understand the past, not the other way round.

There is nothing more agreeable in life than to make peace with the establishment and nothing more corrupting.

Human blunders usually do more to shape history than human wickedness.

The crusade against Communism was even more imaginary than the specter of Communism.

Freedom does not always win. This is one of the bitterest lessons of history.

Manchester has everything but good looks…, the only place in England which escapes our characteristic vice of snobbery.

Like most of those who study history, he (Napoleon III) learned from the mistakes of the past how to make new ones.

If there had been no troublemakers, no Dissenters, we should still be living in caves.

Fascism was little more than terrorist rule by corrupt gangsters. Mussolini was not corrupt himself but he did nothing except to rage impotently.

In my opinion we learn nothing from history except the infinite variety of men’s behaviour. We study it, as we listen to music or read poetry, for pleasure, not for instruction.

We are apt to say that a foreign policy is successful only when the country, or at any rate the governing class, is united behind it. In reality, every line of policy is repudiated by a section, often by an influential section, of the country concerned. A foreign minister who waited until everyone agreed with him would have no foreign policy at all.

A master of improvised speech and improvised policies.

A J P Taylor

When I write I have no loyalty except to historical truth as I see it and care no more about British achievements and mistakes than any other.