Adam Hochschild Quotes

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  • The first World War in so many ways shaped the 20th century and really remade our world for the worse.

    War   Our World   Way  
    "WWI: The Battle That Split Europe, And Families". "All things considered" with Guy Raz, April 30, 2011.
  • A pioneer in this genre [ writing about the refugee crisis] : the book A Seventh Man, by the great John Berger, decades ago evoked the lives of migrant workers in Europe.

    Book   Writing   Men  
  • I think writers can respond by writing about the refugee crisis, by looking at problems faced by migrants, by trying hard to portray them as the human beings that they are.

  • I'm after a snake and please God I'll scotch it.

    Scotch   Snakes   Please  
    Adam Hochschild (2011). “King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa”, p.242, Pan Macmillan
  • You know, by 1936, Hitler was already talking very loudly about his desire to expand to the east. Mussolini, in 1935, went and then in the next year, conquered Ethiopia, acquiring himself a colony. So people at the time really saw fascism not just as an evil but as an aggressive evil that seemed to be spreading.

    Talking   Years   Evil  
  • Someday, I have no doubt, the dead from today's wars will be seen with a similar sense of sorrow at needless loss and folly as those millions of men who lie in the cemeteries of France and Belgium - and tens of millions of Americans will feel a similar revulsion for the politicians and generals who were so spendthrift with others' lives.

    War   Lying   Loss  
    "Where Have All the Graveyards Gone? The War That Didn’t End War and Its Unending Successors" by Adam Hochschild, May 3, 2011.
  • Things have gotten openly more extreme in the last few years. I was lecturing in Hungary, whose prime minister, Victor Orban, is an example of this trend. All over Budapest, statues have been replaced, museum exhibits have been redone, to turn ethnic Hungarians, not Jews, into the prime victims of the Germans during World War II. Five years ago, who would have thought this possible?

    War   Years   Museums  
  • And yet the world we live in-its divisions and conflicts, its widening gap between rich and poor, its seemingly inexplicable outbursts of violence-is shaped far less by what we celebrate and mythologize than by the painful events we try to forget. Leopold's Congo is but one of those silences of history.

    Silence   Trying   Events  
    Adam Hochschild (2011). “King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa”, p.356, Pan Macmillan
  • Ronald Reagan perfected the subtler version long ago by talking about "welfare mothers" - a code phrase for people of colour.

  • It sure is a rising tide, and we have a particularly nasty exemplar of it in the U.S., in Donald Trump.

    Rising   Tides   Nasty  
  • Many of the principle weapons that the Nazis used during World War II had their first trial in combat in Spain - the Messerschmitt 109 fighter plane for example, the Stuka dive bomber, the 88 millimeter artillery piece, which could be used both for antiaircraft purposes and also shelling on the ground. And American soldiers were the victims of these things in Spain, American volunteers. So this war was really a testing ground for Hitler. And he learned a great deal from it about the strengths and weaknesses of these different weapons.

    War   Volunteer   Soldier  
  • I can certainly sympathize with writers who don't want to put themselves or their loved ones at risk.

    Risk   Want   Loved Ones  
  • I think in many ways, the Spanish Civil War was the first battle of World War II. After all, where else in the world at this point did you have Americans in uniform who were being bombed by Nazi planes four years before the U.S. entered World War II? Hitler and Mussolini jumped in on the side of Francisco Franco and his Spanish nationalists, sent them vast amounts of military aid, airplanes, tanks - and Mussolini sent 80,000 ground troops as well - because they wanted a sympathetic ally in power. So I think it really was the opening act of World War II.

    Military   War   Airplane  
  • All of us living in today's world are facing an enormous crisis - arguably the greatest that humanity has ever faced - in the form of man-made global warming; one can't be neutral at such a moment. It's like claiming to be neutral if you're living in Germany in 1933.

    Men   Humanity   Germany  
  • Newt Gingrich seldom misses a chance to note that he is a historian.

    Missing   Chance   Notes  
  • In his fierce, bold determination to see the lives of modern-day slaves up close, Benjamin Skinner reminds me of the British abolitionist of two hundred years ago, Zachary Macaulay, who once traveled on a slave ship across the Atlantic, taking notes. Skinner goes everywhere, from border crossings to brothels to bargaining sessions with dealers in human beings, to bring us this vivid, searing account of the wide network of human trafficking and servitude which spans today's globe.

  • How many really great writers are there who are totally non-political? You can hear the French Revolution in the poetry of [Percy Bysshe] Shelly and [John] Wordsworth; you can sense the vast inequalities of Tsarist Russia in [Anton] Chekhov and [Lev] Tolstoy.

  • No international court can ever substitute for a working national justice system. Or for a society at piece.

  • Some 2,800 Americans went to Spain [during the Spanish Civil War], and it was, by far, the largest number of Americans before or since who've ever joined somebody else's civil war. I think they were primarily people who were deeply alarmed by the menace of fascism. They saw this on the horizon. I quote one volunteer, Maury Colow of New York, who said, "for us it was never Franco, it was always Hitler."

    New York   War   Thinking  
  • Work is hard. Distractions are plentiful. And time is short.

  • I think one thing writers can do is point out that you don't have to say openly racist things, like [Donald] Trump, to be a racist or a xenophobe.

    Thinking   Racist   Trump  
  • In Canada, the U.S. and most of Europe it may be easy to take political stands, this is something for which you can be forced to pay with your life, or your freedom, in many other parts of the world, from Iran to Russia to Pakistan to China.

    Russia   Iran   Europe  
  • One of my favourite contemporary fiction writers is a Texan, Ben Fountain. His extraordinary novel, Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk, all takes place within the half-time show at a Dallas Cowboys football game. No one has better summed up the American appetite for spectacle, the link between sports and politics, and the absolute madness of George W. Bush's Iraq War.

    Sports   Football   War  
  • I think [George] Orwell is right. There are certainly moments when political differences appear minor, and someone can claim to be non-political or to want to stay out of the fray, but today is not one of those moments.

  • Compared with how we've ducked it in the United States, Canada should be really proud of how you have welcomed a significant number of refugees - far more, in fact, than we Americans have, even though our population is vastly larger.

  • Speaking of Germany in 1933, I don't think you can remove yourself from politics when, in so many countries - the United States, Poland, Hungary, and many others - you've got politicians in power or vying for power who are taking tactics and elements of their appeal from the playbook of fascism.

  • Growing inequality is a huge problem, and of course is intimately connected to xenophobia and racism.

  • If your real wages are declining, your job is at risk, you fear your children will be worse off than you are, it's tempting to want to blame it all on an easily identifiable target: Muslims, immigrants, refugees, blacks, Jews.

    Jobs   Children   Real  
  • Even [Ernst] Hemingway, perhaps the most intentionally non-political of American writers, became passionately partisan during the Spanish Civil War.

  • The late Nadine Gordimer in South Africa, for example, had a wonderful ability to get her country's injustices and contradictions down on paper. Ditto for her countryman the great playwright Athol Fugard.

    Country   Example   Paper  
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