"'Socially useful' or 'relevant' history, whether consciously or unconsciously selected or tailored to meet contemporary social or political needs has no place in a university or anywhere else. But there is a danger that this is the kind of history that almost automatically would get taught, or at least learned, if the historical profession did not exist to prevent it." -- Michael Howard, The Lessons of History (1989), p. 12, cited in Tosh, ed. Historians on History, p. 180.
"Far more than poets can historians claim to be the unacknowledged legislators of mankind; for all we believe about the present depends on what we believe about the past." -- Michael Howard, The Lessons of History (1989), p. 12, cited in Tosh, ed. Historians on History, p. 180.
"And this perhaps indicates that the value of history as a training of the judgment and of the imagination is very limited if it is exercised only in recreating our own past, with little reference to the total context within which our society developed and, more particularly, the often very divergent structures of other societies whose development may have been of yet greater importance to the making of the world in which we live today. If it is, indeed, one of the major functions of the historian to explain the present by deepening our understanding of the past, then a study simply of our own society will not get us very far. Our awareness of the world and our capacity to deal intelligently with its problems are shaped not only by the history we know but by what we do not know. Ignorance, especially the ignorance of educated men, can be a more powerful force than knowledge. Ethnocentrism in historical studies, whatever its advantages in scholarly training, is likely to feed parochialism in the societies which those historians serve; and such parochialism can have pretty disastrous results." -- Michael Howard, The Lessons of History (1989), p. 12, cited in Tosh, ed. Historians on History, p. 183.
"The past is a vast chain, every link of which must be kept in good repair." -- Michael Howard, The Lessons of History (1989), cited in Tosh, ed. Historians on History, p. 184.
"We have seen so much of this since the Second World War: people often of masterful intelligence, trained usually in law or economics or perhaps in political science, who have led their governments into disastrous decisions, and miscalculations because they have no awareness whatever of the historical background, the cultural universe, of the foreign societies with which they have to deal. It is an awareness for which no amount of strategic or economic analysis, no techniques of crisis-management or conflict-resolution and certainly no professed understanding of the 'objective historical process of the international class struggle' can provide a substitute. Such miscalculations are always dangerous. In our own day they may be lethal on a very large scale indeed." -- Michael Howard, The Lessons of History (1989), cited in Tosh, ed. Historians on History, p. 186.
"And this is a matter of which no historian can afford to be simply a dispassionate chronicler and analyst. However great his intellectual and moral detachment, in the last resort he is committed to the values, and to the society, that enables him to remain so detached. He is a member of the polis and cannot watch its destruction without himself being destroyed." -- Michael Howard, The Lessons of History (1989), cited in Tosh, ed. Historians on History, p. 187.