Dallas Morning News
By Jerome Weeks
We know Humphrey Bogart never said, “Play it again, Sam.” But neither did Josef Stalin ever make such cynical observations as “A single death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic” and “No man, no problem.” In his ingenious new book, The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where and When, Ralph Keyes doesn’t provide just the origins of several hundred well-known lines but their history – who altered or improved them, why someone else got credit. Misquoter in chief John F. Kennedy quoted more people than any other modern president and misquoted them, too, says Mr. Keyes, and thus led future reference works astray. Kennedy cited Edmund Burke for the famous observation, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” But no one has ever located it in Burke’s writings. Man talk ”A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.” Which ought to include getting his attributions straight. That manly piece of circular reasoning is often credited to John Wayne in Stagecoach. Nope. Try The Grapes of Wrath and not the movie version, either, says The Quote Verifier. But the odds are it was already a longtime catchphrase when novelist John Steinbeck got ahold of it.