US Airways Magazine
Patrick Henry’s patriotic demand, “Give me liberty or give me death!” is often quoted by freedom seekers today because of its urgent eloquence. Many great sound bites like this one have become quotable quotes too good to pass up, whether they’re about sports (Leo Durocher’s “Nice guys finish last”), or taking responsibility (“The buck stops here” desktop sign that President Truman became known for). Some well-spoken folks are so quotable they become veritable cottage industries of attributions, like Mark Twain (“Golf is a good walk spoiled”; “Whenever I get the urge to exercise I lie down until it goes away”; “It is very easy to give up smoking. I’ve done it hundreds of times”). Former baseball star Yogi Berra was so witty he even spawned his own category, Yogi-isms. Such laughable witticisms include “Nobody goes there anymore: it’s too crowded,” and “It’s déjà vu all over again.” While all these well-circulated sayings are appealing to the ear and mind, they share one common problem: None of the people to whom they’re attributed ever actually said them. At least that’s the claim of The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When, a new book by Ralph Keyes. He extensively examines the origins of hundreds of well-known quotes from historical figures, challenging their veracity and correcting false assumptions. While many of the quotes stand up to his scrutiny, many more do not. If you care whether the words you repeat in speeches, writing, or conversation are accurate, or you just like a fascinating read, check this book out.