portrait of Daniel J. Boorstin
Library of Congress photo (Ca. 1975)

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Quotes of the Day for 1 October 2004 – Daniel J. Boorstin

Daniel Joseph Boorstin was born at Atlanta, Georgia on this day in 1914. His father successfully defended a Jewish man falsely charged with rape and murder, the Ku Klux Klan's lynching of the defendant sent the family to Oklahoma. He graduated with honors from Harvard, then won a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford and completed a double first and was qualified as a barrister. He returned to the US and earned his doctorate at Yale and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar. Naturally, his next step was to become a professor of history at the University of Chicago for 25 years. He was director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History for six years and Librarian of Congress for twelve. Throughout his career he observed the culture and wrote about its development. Historians panned his work, and the American Library Association opposed his appointment at the Library of Congress, both because he was trained in law instead of the fields he actually worked in. Despite his education, he was brilliant in both roles.

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You will find an expanded profile, photo, additional biographical links, and all quotes from this author on the author's Notable Quotable page.

The quotes:

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.

The deeper problems connected with advertising come less from the unscrupulousness of our 'deceivers' than from our pleasure in being deceived, less from the desire to seduce than from the desire to be seduced.

The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the oceans was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge.

There was a time when the reader of an unexciting newspaper would remark, 'How dull is the world today!' Nowadays he says, 'What a dull newspaper!'

We suffer primarily not from our vices or our weaknesses, but from our illusions. We are haunted, not by reality, but by those images we have put in their place.

Nothing is really real unless it happens on television.
     - All from Daniel J. Boorstin, 1914 - 2004

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