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作为历史学家的政客的问题

斯坦福—“历史不会重复自己,但会押韵,”马克·吐温如是说。一代又一代政治领袖都在印证这一观察的正确性,他们试图留下自己的烙印,将成就归功于自己,将失败归咎于前任或政治对手。

许多政客在隐退后仍然继续扭曲着事实。英国首相丘吉尔曾经夸耀说:“历史将待我不薄,因为我要撰写历史。”而事实上,他的多卷本二战著作内容全部是他最值得铭记的事件(“光荣时刻”,“从未有如此之少的人,在如此之短的时间内,为如此之多的人,作出如此之大的牺牲”);此外还充斥着对他在战时行为合理性的论证。

丘吉尔的写作也许有失偏颇,但它们提供了可观的内幕信息和细节,这些信息和细节往往无法从不完整和谨小慎微的备忘和摘要中窥斑见豹。历史学家知道,如胜利者所想要的铭记的那样铭记历史,这是一种很大的压力。拿破仑·波拿巴曾说:“历史是一系列约定俗成的谎言。”

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