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They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions

18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195064698
ISBN-10: 0195064690
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"...highly amusing romp through the history of spurious quote-mongering....Boller and George not only perform a valuable scholarly service, they also give us a first-rate detective story."--George E. Hopkins, International Social Science Review


"[A] highly amusing romp through the history of spurious quote-mongering....Boller and George not only perform a valuable scholarly service, they also give us a first-rate detective story."--International Social Science Review


"This book full of spurious quotes and deliberate misattributions has a lesson for anyone who has ever nodded admiringly at a well-turned quotation that makes a partisan point with stunning effect. The lesson is to be wary of just such marvelous distillations of political wisdom. They're probably fakes....This is...a serious book, written with high good humor and solid research."--The Washington Times


"An infectiously browsable book."--Booklist


"One of the most pleasant surprises of the year....Not only informative but great fun."--The Newark Star-Ledger


About the Author


Paul F. Boller, Jr. is Professor of History Emeritus at Texas Christian University. His many books include the bestselling Presidential Anecdotes, Presidential Campaigns, and Presidential Wives.
John George is Professor of Political Science and Sociology at Central State University in Oklahoma. He is the author of Public Opinion: Coalitions, Elites and Masses (with Harry Holloway).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (June 14, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195064690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195064698
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,138,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Andrew S. Rogers VINE VOICE on March 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It may well be true, as Roy Howard never said (p. 51) that "too much fact checking has ruined many a good news story." But the many misquotations listed here, some very well known, often have fascinating stories in themselves. In a day when, thanks to the Internet, misquotations, urban legends, and dubious "facts" fly faster and farther than ever, this book is a very valuable resource to have around.
My major complaint with this book is that I wish it had been much longer -- for example, there are numerous quotes attributed to Winston Churchill (like the one about being a liberal when you're 25) that could stand to be debunked alongside the two included in this volume.
Still, though, it's very helpful to be able to demonstrate to folks that Lenin never said anything about "useful idiots" (p. 76), that Lincoln never made the long statement beginning, "You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift..." (p. 82), or that Voltaire never "defend[ed] to the death your right to say it" (p. 124). For those reasons alone, I would recommend this book be kept and studied by anyone who cares about truth, accuracy, and stomping urban legends to the death they deserve.
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25 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly L. Shultz on March 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
He's my professor in college at UCO, and he's an amazing man.
This work is just an extenstion of his personality -- exacting, intelligent, and focused on what's really true rather than just what people say.
If you're at all interested in accuracy, or if you're a big fan of quotations (like I am), than this is a wonderful book for you!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M. Donohue on February 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When I bought this, I thought it was going to be a humorous
collection of mis-quotes like Yogi Berra's book "I never
said half the things I said". Instead, I found it a very
well-documented albeit dry collection of famous atributions.
For example, one of my favorite warnings has always been:
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good
men do nothing" by John Locke. Well, he never said it! The
Authors of this book found a long paragraph in which Locke
voices the sentiment and, apparently, some clever Editor
condensed it to the oft-quoted line. I would recommend this
item to those who wish to be educated rather than amused.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jens Guld on December 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Lots of quotes were never said by the people claimed to be the sayers.

This book fact checks many spurious quotes, but unfornateny mostly American quotes.
For Americans this is a five star book, but for us Europeans three stars at most.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Culver TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
THEY NEVER SAID IT is a collection of "fake quotes, misquotes and misleading atributions" compiled by Paul F. Boller Jr and John George. The authors were troubled by references to prestigious dead men to score political points without caring about the veracity of the quotation:

"Using quotations is a time-honored practice. There have always been people who liked to liven up what they were saying with appropriate statements from the writings of others. Today, however, quotations tend to be polemical rather than decorative. People use them to prove points rather than to provide pleasure. Quotemen (and quotewomen) do not simply quote; they quote in order to score points, usually of a political nature, and thereby throw their opponents off balance. Sometimes they merely quote a highly esteemed authority -- Jefferson, Lincoln, Emerson -- in order to bolster their own position."

One finds many quotations that have become set phrases in English, such as Marie Antoinette's "Let them eat cake,", Jimmy Cagney's "You Dirty Rat", and Galileo's "Eppur si muove". Others were part of McCarthy-era polemics about Communist intrigue.

As this is not meant to be an exhaustive compendium of spurious quotations, but rather somewhat light entertainment, the datedness of the work makes it less enjoyable than it might have been upon its 1990 publication. So many of the quotes date from postwar anti-Semites or John Birch Society figures, but these groups' rhetoric is increasingly forgotten. Samuel Goldwyn gets a long list of quotations that no one remembers any more, but Yogi Berra's similar sayings are not mentioned at all. For the book to be truly commendable, these quotations would have to not only be apocryphal, but persist in contemporary society. Still, there are enough fake quotations here that continue to circulate that reading this book can still be a profitable experience, but I can't recommend buying it.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By L. F. Smith VINE VOICE on May 13, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Popular culture is packed with events and quotations that everyone is familiar with-- but which are fictional. This book is a collection of quotations that weren't actually said by the people they are attributed to.

The book is interesting, mostly because of the way that the authors tell the stories of how the quotations came to be accepted as real. Sometimes, the reasons are as simple as misunderstandings, poor transcriptions of speeches, and the like. Sometimes, the reasons are less innocent.

A significant number of the false quotations in this book are simply inventions of people with political or religious axes to grind. For example, Lenin never said that "The first step in overthrowing a government is to establish a firearms registration law," even though many gun rights organizations regularly use that quotation to "prove" that gun control is a commie plot. Similarly, Darwin didn't make his often-quoted deathbed retraction of the Theory of Evolution; rather, a variety of religious conservatives have put those words into his mouth, in an effort to somehow "prove" that the theory is false.

It's valuable to have these spurious quotations corrected. Today, in part due to the Internet, misinformation can spread literally at the speed of light. The only way to combat this misinformation is with the truth, and this book is an important source for that truth.

This is a valuable, entertaining book, and I recommend it highly.
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They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions
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