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The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When Paperback – May 30, 2006

3.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The research in Ralph Keyes' The Quote Verifier is impressive, and each conclusion is like the solution to a real-life historical mystery. Who knew a reference book could be so entertaining?” ―Will Shortz, Crossword Puzzle Editor of The New York Times

“Ralph Keyes has made it his mission to hunt down and expose false quotations, and in The Quote Verifier he does that brilliantly. The Quote Verifier is a much needed corrective to the countless 'quotations' that are misquoted, falsely attributed, or downright wrong. Keyes takes apart with surgical precision every dubious quotation, old and new. In the process, he tells engagingly the stories behind the quotes, stories that are often surprisingly funny and always interesting.” ―Sol Steinmetz, co-author of The Life of Language

Nice Guys Finish Seventh established Ralph Keyes as one of our leading quote sleuthers. With The Quote Verifier, he's become our verifier-in-chief. If you want to know who actually said what, this book is indispensable.” ―Rosalie Maggio, author of The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women

“Quotations are powerful tools. Michel de Montaigne, the father of all essayists, observed, 'I quote others only to better express myself.' Intrepid quotations detective Ralph Keyes helps us to discover the clear truth about exactly what was said and who exactly said it.” ―Richard Lederer, author of Word Wizard

“Quotation tracers will find this an excellent book to consult. It provides all the known details about authorship and wording of a large number of quotes, maxims, observations, slogans, comments, and catch phrases. But this is not simply a reference work. Reading it is a real pleasure. The book is easy to use. Quotes are arranged alphabetically by key word and source references are provided in meticulous detail. As a valuable new scholarly resource, The Quote Verifier will take its place alongside standard books of quotations.” ―Anthony Shipps, author of The Quote Sleuth

“'I never said half the things I said,' Yogi Berra said. Or did he? Ralph Keyes' The Quote Verifier is an invaluable and irresistible resource for determining the provenance of dubious quotations. These have always been around, but with the rise of the internet, on which anyone can attribute anything to anybody, they're spreading at a terrifying pace. Thanks, Keyes, we needed that.” ―Ben Yagoda, author of About Town

About the Author

Ralph Keyes's books include The Post-Truth Era, The Courage to Write, and Is There Life After High School? He lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (May 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312340044
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312340049
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #649,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Two years ago, my co-workers made fun of me because I tried to use the word "eponymous" in a news release. They deleted it, saying that no one knows what that word means anymore. One of the many things I like about Ralph Keyes is that he uses words like "eponymous" -- and he expects that you'll know what it means, too. Keyes' writing will either teach you some really cool words to use at cocktail parties -- or make you wish that you had paid more attention during your 8th-grade vocabulary class.

With Quote Verifier (QV), Keyes has added more fodder to the quote mill, which he kicked off with his Nice Guys Finish Seventh. QV can be read from beginning to end, or it can be read non-linearly as a reference.

Who originally came up with "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."? Kennedy? Which one? Neither, actually. You'll find this under the alphabetical listings under ASK, where you'll find that Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said something remarkably similar 80 years before JFK did. There's an entire section (under the "Ks") devoted to the Kennedys, especially John and Robert. Having grown up in Massachusetts, I was often treated to "Kennedyisms." John Kennedy usually cited his sources. Bobby often cited John and Ted credited Bobby.

Also, as a former and unreformed New Englander, I was ecstatic to see that theologian Reinhold Niebuhr was correctly credited for his "Serenity Prayer," as opposed to "anonymous," which I so often see. (Niebuhr's widow lived up the street from me and was the speaker at my high school graduation.) However, "Shays' Rebellion" was spelled "Shay's Rebellion," a mistake commonly made in the Midwest.
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I was so impressed with a newspaper feature on Ralph Keyes's The Quote Verifier that I ordered the book right away. I was not disappointed. There are few books I have ever encountered that are more thoroughly researched -- and so entertaining. The book is either a conversation starter (or spoiler, depending on your audience). Keyes delights in debunking commonly held assumptions about famous quotes, but there's no malice. Just meticulous and entertaining research. He points out the evolution of quotations (often much like the children's game of Telephone). I love how this wonderful reference is organized: alphabetically according to key words, interspersed with special sections on those who are frequently quoted, and a "verdict" at the end of each entry to help the reader reach a decision on a quote's origin or evolution). Thus, a special section on Yogi Berra tracks down a bunch of alleged "Yogi-isms." You might be surprised. I was. Gems abound a nearly every page. And the research is cited in a way that makes it fun to learn the origin of a phrase (or the lack of such knowledge). An example is the famous phrase "Iron Curtain." It is commonly known that Winston Churchill used that phrase in a 1946 sppech about Soviet influence. But Keyes exhaustively points out a whole bunch of similar uses that occurred much earlier. Then he gives a verdict: "Many authors, one key publicist -- Winston Churchill." I loved reading the blurb on the phrase "fifteen minutes of fame" (is it Andy Warhol's? Hey, I don't want to give away the juicy tidbits) and on the phrase "May you live in interesting times" (is it really of Chineses origin?). And so many others. Keyes's book has delighted me so much I recently found it a worthy companion on a long trip.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
This book does exactly what the title says it does. All those quotes you use from time to time and never know the source are now a thing of the past. I wrote a book once called "The First Casualty", taken from the quote "The first casualty when war comes is truth." I looked it up in this book and there it all was--who said it, where and when and an assessment of the value to place on each attribution. The book is worth every penny you pay for it.
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This book sorts out familiar quotes, and tracks down who really said those words. Helps you from looking foolish so you don't misquote some guy during your speech to the Kiwanis club. Like a dictionary, it is seldom used every day - but when you need it, it's there.
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Format: Paperback
I could not have imagined a reference book that reads like a novel. Fortunately, Ralph Keyes could. An exceptional accomplishment.

Layne Longfellow, Ph.D., Author, Longfellow Reads Longfellow
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This is not the type of book to read straight through, but rather to pick up from time to time and learn the brief history of the most famous quotations in English history. Most often, the myth does not match the fact. But, the history is never dull and Keyes' words explaining how the quote gained popular notice are often fascinating.
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Format: Paperback
The Quote Verifier is entirely magnificent. Who can resist this book? I can't stop reading it. It's like eating peanuts: once you start you can't stop.

Patrick O'Connor author of DON'T LOOK BACK
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