Who said: "Books are the carriers of civilization"

BookBrowse's Favorite Quotes

"Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill." - Barbara Tuchman

Barbara TuchmanAmerican historian and author Barbara Wertheim Tuchman was born in 1912 into a wealthy New York family. After gaining an undergraduate degree from Radcliffe College she worked as a research assistant at the Institute of Pacific Relations in New York and Tokyo, and then was an editorial assistant for The Nation, followed by time as an American correspondent for the New Statesman in London and on the Far East News Desk. She also worked for the Office of War Information (1944–45).

In 1939 she married Lester R. Tuchman, an internist, medical researcher and professor of clinical medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. They had three daughters. Although she could have lived a conventional life as a the wife of a prominent physician, as her three daughters grew up she started to write history books. This was a challenge for her, not just because she was a woman but because she had no graduate degree, let alone an academic title. "It's what saved me," she once said. "If I had taken a doctoral degree, it would have stifled any writing capacity." She had a firm sense of her vocation as a historian, which she summed up in a 1978 speech, "'the writer's object is - or should be - to hold the reader's attention ... I want the reader to turn the page and keep on turning to the end. This is accomplished only when the narrative moves steadily ahead, not when it comes to a weary standstill, overloaded with every item uncovered in the research."

She first found fame as the author of The Guns of August (late retitled August 1914) which won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1963; the first of two Pulitzers she would receive, the second was for Stilwell and the American Experience in China (1972).

Tuchman was a trustee of Radcliffe College and a lecturer at Harvard University, University of California, and the U.S. Naval War College. A tower of Currier House, a residential division of Harvard College was named in her honor.

She died at the age of seventy-seven in 1989. The New York Times published a substantial obituary that can be read here.

More Quotes

This quote & biography originally ran in an issue of BookBrowse's membership magazine. Full Membership Features & Benefits.

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Comet Seekers
    by Helen Sedgwick

    A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Les Parisiennes
    by Anne Sebba

    How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died under Nazi occupation.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.