I’m writing the Publisher’s Note for the next issue of Guanxi: The China Letter, a background briefing about Chinese history, and want to quote a few people about the important of knowing history. I have some comments specific to China, but that line about how those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it seemed relevant, so I went online to find out who said it.
And I’m puzzled. On a general search, I found these two quotations, at random sites:
“Those who do not read and understand history are doomed to repeat it.” – Harry Truman
“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana
Then I tried quotation sites, having a strange yen for an accurate reference. (It would be so easy but perhaps mistaken to give Truman credit, and I like to have proper attribution, as you know.)
Wisdomquotes.com credits Santayana (which makes sense), but I got nothing at Bartleby.com with “history are doomed” and a couple other combinations. Maybe I’m doing something wrong, but how interesting to find that (1) it was probably said or written by Santayana (who was an important influence on T.S. Eliot, by the way) and (2) I don’t know where or when!
Here’s an interesting site, though, with a different time of quotation, OverheardinNewYork, which came up because someone gave it the title, “Those who Bootleg History Are Doomed to Profit From It.” I clicked the link because it mentioned China. Language is a bit rougher than Santayana’s, though similar to that of some American presidents.