Never Interfere With an Enemy While He’s in the Process of Destroying Himself

Napoleon Bonaparte? Haley Barbour? Woodrow Wilson? Dear Quote Investigator: I saw Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi on television recently and he recited a quotation that he attributed to Napoleon [HBCNN] [HBFOX]: You know, Napoleon said ‘Never interfere with an enemy while he’s in the process of destroying himself.’ Is this an accurate quote? Could you …

Legal Advice: Pound the Facts, Pound the Law, Pound the Table

Carl Sandburg? Alan Dershowitz? Jerome Michael? Jacob J. Rosenblum? Oliver Wendell Holmes? Anonymous? Dear Quote Investigator: A few years ago I saw a famous quotation about legal strategy attributed to a celebrity professor:[ref] 2007 March 4, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Pounding the Table About Border Episode by Ruben Navarrette Jr., Page E3, Section: Weekly Review, Fort …

Be Kind; Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle

Plato? Philo of Alexandria? Ian MacLaren? John Watson? This blog post is based on a question that was posed at the wonderful blog used by the quotation expert Fred Shapiro who is the editor of one of the best reference works in this area: The Yale Book of Quotations. Fred Shapiro’s posts appear on the …

No Respect for a Man Who Can Spell a Word Only One Way

Mark Twain? Nyrum Reynolds? Hiram Runnels? Andrew Jackson? Dear Quote Investigator: I sometimes have difficulty spelling words correctly. But I take comfort in the magnificent statement attributed to Mark Twain: I don’t give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way. Actually, I used to take comfort in those words, …

The Creator Has an Inordinate Fondness for Beetles

Charles Darwin? J.B.S. Haldane? Stephen Gould? Apocryphal? Anonymous? Dear Quote Investigator: I have been studying rain forests and came across the following passage in a New York Times article:[ref] 1989 November 25, New York Times, The Editorial Notebook: Burning the Book of Nature by Nicholas Wade, New York. (Online New York Times archive) link[/ref] Charles …

No One Washes a Rental Car

Thomas Friedman? Lawrence Summers? Jack Kemp? Bill Creech?  Aircraft Maintenance Chief? Thomas Peters? Nancy Austin? Dear Quote Investigator: New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has used the following catch phrase several times: No one washes a rented car. I think this saying encapsulates an important idea. There is little incentive to wash or maintain a …

Facts Are Stubborn Things

John Adams? Tobias Smollett? Alain-René Lesage? Dear Quote Investigator: In class last year we studied the Boston Massacre and our history book said that John Adams, who later became the second President of the United States, defended the soldiers who shot and killed the protesters. During the defense Adams used the famous phrase: Facts are …

The Futuristic Weapons of WW3 Are Unknown, But WW4 Will Be Fought With Stones and Spears

Omar Bradley? Albert Einstein? Young Army Lieutenant? Walter Winchell? Joe Laitin? James W. Fulbright? Dear Quote Investigator: There is a great quotation about the type of weapons that will be used in World War IV. The words are both funny and chilling, and every time I have seen the saying it has been attributed to …

Time You Enjoy Wasting Is Not Wasted Time

John Lennon? Bertrand Russell? Laurence J. Peter? Marthe Troly-Curtin? Dear Quote Investigator: I like to enjoy life and sometimes I am criticized for spending too much time on amusements and diversions. My favorite response is attributed to the legendary free-spirit John Lennon: Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. An acquaintance told me recently …

Three Weeks to Prepare a Good Impromptu Speech

Mark Twain? Apocryphal? Dear Quote Investigator: I have to present a speech soon, and I would like to use a quotation attributed to Mark Twain: It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech. The intended audience has the background to know that impromptu means without planning or preparation, and the …

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