The Great Historians of 20th Century

If today you know who you are? Where are you from? Who were your ancestors and what was your past? It's only because of the efforts of historians. A historian is a person who gathers information about the past and preserves that knowledge for upcoming generations.

As Theodore Roosevelt said: “The more you know about your past, the better prepared you are for the future.”

There is a very long list of historians like Livy, Herodotus, Tacitus, and Thucydides. But here we are listing only some great historians of the last century. Along with it, we have also gathered some quotes from these heroes.

1. Bertrand Russell (1872–1970)

Bertrand Arthur William Russell( also known as 3rd Earl Russell) is a renowned British historian of the 20th century. He was also a philosopher, social critic, and political activist. He belonged to an aristocratic family in the UK. He studied at prestigious institutions like Trinity College and Cambridge University on scholarship. He also served as a professor at Cambridge University. He was a great admirer of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. He won Nobel Price in Literature in 1950. He was undoubtedly a historian of great eloquence and courage. His famous books include:

“Why I am not a Christian”, “The Problems of Philosophy”, “Principia Mathematica”, “The Analysis of Mind”.


A man without a bias can’t write interesting history. If, indeed, such man exists.

2. Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919)

He was a remarkable American historian and writer. He also served as 26th President of the US(1901–09).

He studied at Harvard University and Columbia Law School. His writings greatly influenced many people. He was among the most influential figures of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. He won Nobel Peace Prize in 1906.

His famous books include:

“ The Naval War of 1812"

“Theodore Roosevelt, An autobiography” and “Letters to His Children”.


Patriotism means to stand by the country. It doesn’t mean to stand by the President.

3. Oswald Spengler (1880–1936)

He was a German historian and philosopher. He was a nationalist, anti-democrat, and an active member of the Conservative Revolution. He studied at remarkable institutes like the University of Munich, the University of Berlin, and the University of Halle. According to him, every culture passes through the age phases of the individual man. Each has its childhood, youth, manhood, and old age. When a culture enters its late age, it becomes a civilization.

His most influential contributions in the field of history are:

“The Decline of the West”, “Man and Technics”.


The press today is an army with carefully organized weapons, the journalist its officer, the reader as its soldier. The reader neither knows nor is supposed to know the purpose for which he is used and the role he has to play.

4. Arnold Joseph Toynbee (1889–1975)

He was a British historian and researcher. He studied at Winchester College, Balliol College, and Oxford University. He served as a lecturer at the London School of Economics and King’s College London where he taught Byzantine and Greek studies. In this way, he remained part of almost all renowned educational institutes of the UK. He was the war correspondent during Greco-Turkish War. He also worked for the intelligence department of the British Foreign Office. He was the world’s most-read, translated, and discussed living scholar. His most famous books are:

“The German Terror in Belgium”, “A historian’s approach to Religion”, “Nationality and the War”, “A study of History”.


Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.

5. Samuel Eliot Morrison (1887- 1996)

He was an American historian who received his Ph.D. degree from Harvard University and taught there for 40 years. He was a close friend of American President Franklin D Roosevelt. His masterpiece “Admiral of Ocean(biography of Columbus)” won a Pulitzer Prize. He won two Pulitzer prizes, Presidential Medal of Freedom and Legion of Merit. His most famous books are:

“John Paul Jones”, “Admiral of the Ocean Sea”, “The Great Explorers”, “The Battle of the Atlantic”.


A historian should yield himself to his subject, become immersed in the place and period of his choice, standing apart from it now and then for a fresh view.

6. Richard Hofstadter (1916–1970)

He was also one of the renowned American historians. He studied philosophy and history at Colombia University and the University of Buffalo. He taught American History at Colombia University band the University of Maryland. He twice won Pulitzer Prize. His most acclaimed books are:

“The Age of Reform”, “Anti-intellectualism in American Life”, “ The American Political Tradition”, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics”.


It is a part of the intellectual’s tragedy that the things he most values about himself and his work are quite unlike those society values in him.

7. Stephen Edward Ambrose (1936–2002)

He was also an American historian. He also served as the biographer of US Presidents Dwight D Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. He studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned a Ph.D. degree from there. His most popular books are:

“Band of Brother”, “Undaunted Courage”, “To America”, “ Rise to Globalism”, “Pegasus Bridge”.


The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future.

8.Geoffrey Barraclough (1908–1984)

He was a British historian. He studied at Oxford University. His main interest was Medieval History. So he taught this subject at the University of London, University of Liverpool, and University of California. His most popular books are:

“The Origins of Modern Germany”, “Main Trends in History”, “The Medieval Papacy”.


Man is a historical animal with a deep sense of his own past, and if he can’t integrate the past with a history explicit and true, he will integrate it with a history implicit and false.

9. Gerda Lerner ( 1920 - 2013)

Female historians are no less than male historians, a good example of which is Gerda Lerner. She was an Austrian-born American historian. She studied at Columbia University. She taught at the University of Wisconsin Madison and Long Island University. She remained the President of the Organization of American Historians from 1980–81. She won the Bruce Catton Prize. She worked a lot in the field of women’s history and gender history. She is the subject of the documentary film “Why women need to climb mountains”.Her most popular books include:

“Fire Weed”, “Black Women in White America”, “The majority finds its Past”, “The Creation of Feminist Consciousness”.


The main thing that history can teach us is that human actions have consequences and that certain choices, once made, can’t be undone.

10. Sir Antony Beevor (1946-Present)

He is a British military historian and author of many books. He studied at the Winchester College Hampshire and Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. His books are of such excellence that they are translated into 360 languages with over 7 million copies sold. Some of his books are banned in Russia and Ukraine. He won Samuel Johnson Prize and Wolfson History Prize. He also sits on the Council of “Society of Authors”.


Of course, history is easily manipulated- though that makes it even more important for us to know what actually happened.