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Europe: A History

Norman Davies

Top 10 Best Quotes

“It is indeed the duty of historians to stress the contrast between the standards of the past and the standards of the present. Some fulfil that duty on purpose, others by accident.”

“The Fascist utopia, like that of the Communists, was false, and generated immense suffering. But there were those who dreamed it sincerely.”

“Culture is something that must grow. You cannot build a tree; you can only plant it, and care for it, and wait for it to mature . . .”

“Reconstructing the past is rather like translating poetry. It can be done, but never exactly.”

“Only a Christian culture could have produced a Voltaire or a Nietzsche. I do not believe that the culture of Europe could survive the complete disappearance of the Christian Faith.”

“To make his point, Ivan staged a sensational demonstration. Some time before Christmas he had arrested two Lithuanians employed in the Moscow Kremlin. He charged them with plotting to poison him. The accusations against Jan Lukhomski and Maciej the Pole did not sound very credible; but their guilt or innocence was hardly relevant. They were held in an open cage on the frozen Moskva River for all the world to see; and on the eve of the departure of Ivan’s envoy to Lithuania, they were burned alive in their cage.50 As the ice melted under the fierce heat of the fire and the heavy iron cage sank beneath the water, taking its carbonized occupants down in a great hiss of steam, one could have well imagined that something was being said about Lithuania’s political future.”

“Theorists of propaganda have identified five basic rules: 1. The rule of simplification: reducing all data to a simple confrontation between ‘Good and Bad’, ‘Friend and Foe’. 2. The rule of disfiguration: discrediting the opposition by crude smears and parodies. 3. The rule of transfusion: manipulating the consensus values of the target audience for one’s own ends. 4. The rule of unanimity: presenting one’s viewpoint as if it were the unanimous opinion of all right-thinking people: drawing the doubting individual into agreement by the appeal of star-performers, by social pressure, and by ‘psychological contagion’. 5. The rule of orchestration: endlessly repeating the same messages in different variations and combinations.”

“The big question about the hunter-gatherers, therefore, does not seem to be ‘How did they progress towards the higher level of an agricultural and politicised society?’ but ‘What persuaded them to abandon the secure, well-provided and psychologically liberating advantages of their primordial lifestyle?’.1”

“An ambassador’, quipped Sir Henry Wootton, ‘is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.”

“The title 'Lord of All-Rus' did not possess much basis either in history or in current reality. It came into the same category as that whereby the kings of England laid claim to France. In the 1490s, two-and-a-half centuries after all traces of a united Kyivan Rus' had been destroyed, it had the same degree of credibility that the king of France might have enjoyed if, in his struggle with the German Empire, he had proclaimed himself 'Lord of all the Franks'.”

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Book Keywords:

communism, diplomacy, propaganda, belarus, lithuania, history, fascism, utopia

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