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

3.7 out of 5 stars 20 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 University Press (June 14, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195064690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195064698
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #637,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am always fascinated with quotes that are misused, or not even attributed to the person who said (or didn't say) it!
This is one of those. My favorite book title: I LOVE PAUL REVERE WHETHER HE RODE OR NOT!
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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's a good book, exploring our tendency to mis-attribute quotes, sometimes innocently, sometimes intentionally advancing our favorite belief or quirk by attributing it to Twain or Lincoln. Once attributed, the misattribution speads like wildfire, especially since we now have the internet. Sometimes Boller exactingly finds the real origin of a mis-attributed quote, such as Horace Greely's "Go West, young man." It is a difficult task often to prove that someone DIDN'T say something, when they might have said it in a forgotten and lost letter, or said it in private conversation. In places the book drags, and sometimes Boller concludes "he didn't say it" merely from a lack of proof that someone DID say it, which of course is not proof that someone did NOT say it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I will second Andrew Rogers' assertion that this compendium "(should have) been much longer". My copy of "They Never Said It" arrived close on the heels of Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes. Compared to the Bartlett, this book can only legitimately be regarded as a start - one that should be greatly expanded.

Further: a reference, even one meant primarily as an entertainment, should be properly indexed. Like "Never", Bartlett's has an author index. But Bartlett's also has a subject index - an exclusion that puts "Never" in the 2-1/2-star minor leagues.

Kimberly Cole revealed for us that one of the authors (Dr. George) is a professor at UCO. Perhaps this explains why he (or Boller) referred to Stalin's "tyrannical policies" under the entry: "you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs". I always think that the ironically titled "Uncle Joe" (who murdered 30-million countrymen) deserves far more condemnation than he gets from the Academy. If Stalin was a mere "tyrant" than Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung, et al were mere "despots".

Issac Asimov wrote ten non-fiction books for every book of his fiction. All but one were indexed by himself. That neither the authors nor the publisher bothered to index a few hundred quotes by subject is just plain lazy.

Finally, I was fascinated to see (on the back dust jacket) that Marie Antoinette never said "Let them eat cake", so off I went to the index. Under "A" one finds "Adams" "Aesop" and "Armstrong" but no "Antoinette" (what?). I moved to (F)rance and (Q)ueen - no luck. Finally, I found it under M - along with Marx, Mussolini, and Minutemen. This was disconcerting but I didn't lose my head over it.
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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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