[PW] Request Yankee magazine 1980 - Help with Quote: History (or War) is the unfolding of miscalculations. Barbara Tuchman

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
Wed Mar 1 20:29:41 PST 2017

Thanks for your response Donna. I agree with you that "War is the
unfolding of miscalculations" is prevalent. Below are three references
that contain the "war" version of the quotation, and two of these
references point to "The Guns of August" (1962) by Tuchman.

But I do not believe that the statement is present in "The Guns of
August". HathiTrust contains searchable copies of "The Guns of August"
and there is no match. I also performed a different check and found no
match. If some list member finds the "war" version of the quotation
before 1973 please let me know.

[ref] 1984, The Cynic's Lexicon by Jonathon Green, Section: Barbara
Tuchman, Page 192, St. Martin's Press, New York. (Verified on paper)

[Begin excerpt]
1912— American historian
War is the unfolding of miscalculations.
The Guns of August, 1962
[End excerpt]

[ref] 1990, The Fourth—and by Far the Most Recent—637 Best Things
Anybody Ever Said by Robert Byrne, Quote Number 496, Page not
numbered, (Quotations are numbered, but pages are not numbered),
Atheneum, New York. (Verified on paper) [/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
War is the unfolding of miscalculations.
Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989)
[End excerpt]

[ref] 1993, The New International Dictionary of Quotations, Selected
by Margaret Miner and Hugh Rawson, (Second Edition), Section: War,
Quote Page 390, A Dutton Book: Penguin Books, New York. (Verified on

[Begin excerpt]
War is the unfolding of miscalculations.
—BARBARA TUCHMAN, The Guns of August
[End excerpt]


On Wed, Mar 1, 2017 at 11:02 PM, Donna Halper <dlh at donnahalper.com> wrote:
> On 3/1/2017 3:43 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:
>>   I believe that Tuchman actually wrote: "History is the unfolding of
>> miscalculations". This statement appeared in the 2001 Grove Press
>> edition of "Stilwell and the American Experience in China", and I plan
>> to check the original 1970 edition shortly.
> And you are not the only one to believe that.  I found an article in the
> Jerusalem Post, 10 September 2003, p. 7; by Michael Freund, "Oslo:
> September 13, 1993-- The Victims."  In it, he quotes what you did, in a
> discussion of missed opportunities in the middle east.  here's the paragraph
> with the quote:   "History," the late historian Barbara Tuchman once said,
> "is the unfolding of miscalculation." She might as well have been referring
> to Israel's dealings with the PLO. Although the Palestinians never lived up
> to their part of the bargain, Israel persisted in signing agreements with
> them. There was the 1994 Cairo Agreement, the 1995 Oslo 2 Accords, the 1997
> Hebron deal and the 1998 Wye agreement..." Interestingly, this is one of the
> only quotes to do it your way-- every other time I find the quote, it's
> "war" rather than "history"-- but clearly, someone saw the actual quote or
> Mr. Freund would not have stated it that way.

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