There are innumerable writing problems in an extended work. One book took a little more than six years. You, the writer, change in six years. The life around you changes. Your family changes. They grow up. They move away. The world is changing. You're also learning more about the subject. By the time you're writing the last chapters of the book, you know much more than you did when you started at the beginning.
Take the teacher not the course. Find out who the great professors are - the great teachers - and take their courses because a subject that you may not think you're interested in may turn out to be infinitely fascinating because of the way it's taught.
We still dislike hypocrites. It's a very American characteristic. We still like people who have ideas and who are willing to stand up for what they believe in. We're very forgiving of failures and very willing to give people a second and third chance if they mean to do better and are sorry for what they've done.
George P. A. Healy; "I knew no one in France, I was utterly ignorant of the language, I did not know what I should do when once there; but I was not yet one-and-twenty, and I had a great stock of courage, of inexperience—which is sometimes a great help—and a strong desire to be my very best.
Once I discovered the endless fascination of doing the research and of doing the writing, I knew I had found what I wanted to do in my life. Every book is a new journey. I never felt I was an expert on a subject as I embarked on a project.
I could not do what I do without the kindness, consideration, resourcefulness and work of librarians, particularly in public libraries. What started me writing history happened because of some curiosity that I had about some photographs I'd seen in the Library of Congress.
The talent, including the talent for history - and I do think there are people who just have a talent for it, the way you have a talent for public speaking or music or whatever - it shouldn't be allowed to lie dormant. It should be brought alive.
We are raising a generation of young Americans who are, to a very large degree, historically illiterate. It's not their faults. There's no problem about enlisting their interest in history. None. The problem is the teachers so often have no history in their background.
You can make the argument that there's no such thing as the past. Nobody lived in the past. They lived in the present. It is their present, not our present, and they don't know how it's going to come out. They weren't just like we are because they lived in that very different time. You can't understand them if you don't understand how they perceived reality.
I don't pick my presidents because they were great presidents. I'm not much interested in ranking presidents and who is the best and who is the worst. I am much more inclined to be interested in them if they had an interesting life and if they were a complete person - and by that I mean they also had flaws and failings.
Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion–and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special. Because everyone is.
One of the regrets of my life is that I did not study Latin. I'm absolutely convinced, the more I understand these eighteenth-century people, that it was that grounding in Greek and Latin that gave them their sense of the classic virtues: the classic ideals of honor, virtue, the good society, and their historic examples of what they could try to live up to.
The evil of technology was not technology itself, Lindbergh came to see after the war, not in airplanes or the myriad contrivances of modern technical igenuity, but in the extent to which they can distance us from our better moral nature, or sense of personal accountability.
Since September 11, it seems to me that never in our lifetime, except possibly in the early stages of World War II, has it been clearer that we have as a source of strength, a source of direction, a source of inspiration - our story.
History is not just about dates and quotations. And it's not just about politics, the military and social issues, though much of it of course is about that. It's about everything. It's about life history. It's human. And we have to see it that way. We have to teach it that way. We have to read it that way. It's about art, music, literature, money, science, love - the human experience.
Find something to do that you love because then the work itself is always the reward not the recompense. And if you love what you're doing you probably do better at it than doing something you don't love and therefore you'll be compensated appropriately.
I'm absolutely positive it's in our human nature to want to know about the past. The two most popular movies of all time, while not historically accurate, are about core historic events: Gone With the Wind and Titanic.
I am adamant that we must not cut back on funding of the teaching of the arts in the schools: music, painting, theater, dance, all of it. The great thing about the arts is that the only way you learn how to do it is by doing it.
Little children can learn anything, just as they can learn a foreign language. The mind is so absorbent then. There ought to be a real program to educate teachers who want to teach grade school children about history.
With the situation as gray as it could be, no one was more conspicuous in his calm presence of mind than Washington. They must be "cool but determined" he had told the men before the battle, when spirits were high. Now, in the face of catastrophe, he was demonstrating what he meant by his own example. Whatever anger or torment or despair he felt, he kept to himself.
If we think back through our own lives, the subjects that you liked best in school almost certainly were taught by the teachers you liked best. And the teacher you liked best was the teacher who cared about the subject she taught.
Yes, this is a dangerous time. Yes, this is a time full of shadows and fear. But we have been through worse before and we have faced more difficult days before. We have shown courage and determination, and skillful and inventive and courageous and committed responses to crisis before.
The more Adams thought about the future of his country, the more convinced he became that it rested on education. Before any great things are accomplished, he wrote to a correspondent, a memorable change must be made in the system of education and knowledge must become so general as to raise the lower ranks of society nearer to the higher. The education of a nation instead of being confined to a few schools and universities for the instruction of the few, must become the national care and expense for the formation of the many.
You can't learn to play the piano without playing the piano, you can't learn to write without writing, and, in many ways, you can't learn to think without thinking. Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That's why it's so hard.
The year 1776, celebrated as the birth year of the nation and for the signing of the Declaration of Independence, was for those who carried the fight for independence forward a year of all-too-few victories, of sustained suffering, disease, hunger, desertion, cowardice, disillusionment, defeat, terrible discouragement, and fear, as they would never forget, but also of phenomenal courage and bedrock devotion to country, and that, too they would never forget.
Your education never stops and college is just the beginning. You come out of college with a huge advantage in that you've ideally and more times than not you've come out with a love of learning and that's what matters above all.
I think the public library system is one of the most amazing American institutions. Free for everybody. If you ever get the blues about the status of American culture there are still more public libraries than there are McDonald's. During the worst of the Depression not one public library closed their doors.
You have to get inside the people you are writing about. You have to go below the surface. And that's to a very large degree what all writers are doing - they're trying to get below the surface. Whether it's in fiction or poetry or writing history and biography. Some people make that possible because they write wonderful letters and diaries. And you have to sort of go where the material is.
Let the children have their night of fun and laughter. Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern task and the formidable years that lie before us, resolved that, by our sacrifice and daring, these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied their right to live in a free and decent world." Winston Churchill Christmas Eve Message, 1941 as printed in "In the Dark Streets Shineth.