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They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions Paperback – 1 Apr 1990

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Product details

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; New Ed edition (1 April 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195064690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195064698
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,033,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


`serves an important purpose in setting the record straight about certain historical figures, Hampstead & Highgate Express

`an excellent source' Evening Advertiser

'An infectiously browsable book.' Ray Olson

'You cannot fool all the people all of the time (not Abraham Lincoln), and the authors of this carefully researched and readable treasury help to put the records as straight as they are ever likely to be. [But] sticklers for accuracy, and those who like dropping bits of useless information to liven flagging conversations, will find this a source of delight.' Manchester Evening News

'well-researched' Daily Mail

'an excellent source for those of us not well read enough to know even the misquotations' Evening Advertiser

an amusing collection of quotations' Paul Thomas, Slough, Eton & Windsor Observer

'an amusing collection of quotations' Berks & Bucks Observer

'The anthology is huge fun, but is serious enough to make us think hard too.' Bath & West Evening Chronicle

About the Author

Paul F. Boller is Professor of History Emeritus at Texas Christian University and John George is Profesor of Political Science and Sociology, Central State University, Oklahoma

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I imagined It would be a light-hearted, even humorous work, but it turns out to be a very serious probe into the actual origins of some well known utterances. Revealing the crassness of my intellect, I will readily concede that I am unconcerned with the machinations of who said 'what', my sole interest being in the content that which was said.

For adherents of exactitudes, then this is the work for you, as it looks painstakingly complied.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 18 reviews
42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Spoiling a good story 21 Mar. 2003
By Andrew S. Rogers - Published on
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.
24 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Dr. George is amazing 24 Mar. 2000
By Kimberly L. Shultz - Published on
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!
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Often informative, but the Cold War audience it was written for has moved on 8 Feb. 2011
By Christopher Culver - Published on
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good book for American fact checkers 23 Dec. 2012
By Jens Guld - Published on
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
It's Okay 12 Sept. 2012
By drygulches - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was hoping for a book from which I could draw a series of stories, and this has that. But it has approximately one misquote per famous person. There are many websites which have more information.
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