May 03, 2011

Dr. Mardy Grothe’s NEVERISMS – a highly-recommended new book of quotations…

Every once in a while, I depart from the usual format of this blog to tell readers about new books of quotations that I particularly like and personally recommend.

Today’s post is about one of those books — Neverisms: A Quotation Lover's Guide to Things You Should Never Do, Never Say, or Never Forget.

Neverisms is the latest in a series of books about quotations by quote maven, psychologist and management consultant Dr. Mardy Grothe.

Previous books in the series include: 
  • Ifferisms: An Anthology of Aphorisms That Begin with the Word “IF” (2009); 
      • I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like: A Comprehensive Compilation of History’s Greatest Analogies, Metaphors, and Similes (2008); 
      • Viva la Repartee: Clever Comebacks and Witty Retorts from History's Great Wits and Wordsmiths (2005); and 
      • Oxymoronica: Paradoxical Wit & Wisdom From History's Greatest Wordsmiths (2004)

As those titles suggest, Grothe’s approach to books of quotations is clever, unique and entertaining.

Neverisms is no exception. It’s a one-of-a-kind collection of quotes, illuminated with background written by Grothe, that’s simultaneously fun to read and educational, often humorous and sometimes quite thought-provoking.

Like Grothe’s previous books, Neverisms includes quotations related to the book’s topic. In this case, as the subtitle indicates, the topic is quotes about “Things You Should Never Do, Never Say, or Never Forget,”

Grothe coined the term neverisms as a short (and memorable) term for such quotes. His new book collects and discusses more than 2,000 neverism quotations by nearly as many people, from every era of history and every walk of life.

The quotes are organized into chapters based on some aspect they have in common. Sometimes it’s a topic, such as sex, sports, politics or business. In other cases, it’s a linguistic similarity, such as quotes beginning with a certain phrase, like “never underestimate” or “never trust.”

Each chapter includes interesting introductory comments and fascinating “back stories” about the quotes written by Grothe.

This approach, which Grothe has used in his previous books, makes Neverisms hard to pigeonhole. It’s a great compilation of quotes, but it’s much more than just a compilation. It’s educational, but not at all dry. It’s fun reading — and you’re guaranteed to learn a lot of facts you didn’t know about a lot people and subjects.

For example, here are a couple of entries from the Stage & Screen chapter of Neverisms:

               Never confuse the improbable with the impossible: “Burke’s Law.”
                          GENE BARRY, as Captain Amos Burke, in a 
                          1963 episode of the TV series Burke’s Law

    In this popular 1960s television series, Gene Barry played a dapper Los Angeles millionaire who had been named chief of detectives for the L.A. Police Department. As he fought crime from his chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, Burke was famous for dispensing proverbial sayings to his young detectives, always ending them in his trademark manner: “Burke's Law.” The series also included these neverisms:

Never walk away from a long shot.
Never call your captain unless it’s murder.
Never drink martinis with beautiful suspects.
Never give your girl and dog the same kind of jewelry.

               Never resist an impulse, Sabrina. Especially if it’s terrible.
                          HUMPHREY BOGART, to Audrey Hepburn, 
                          in the 1954 Billy Wilder classic Sabrina 
                          (screenplay by Wilder & Samuel A. Taylor)

    This is the reply that business executive Linus Larrabee (Bogart) makes to the beautiful Sabrina Fairchild (Hepburn), after she waltzes into his office and announces, “All night long I’ve had the most terrible impulse to do something.”

I’ve collected and read hundreds of books of quotations and I rate Dr. Mardy Grothe’s new book Neverisms as one of the best. I give it my highest recommendation.

If you like books of quotations, or just like reading interesting books, I’m sure you’ll enjoy Neverisms.

By the way, if you’re a quote lover, you’ll also enjoy Dr. Mardy’s free weekly newsletter. You can subscribe to it by visiting his website at

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Comments? Questions? Corrections? Post them on my quotations Facebook group.

Further reading: quotation books by Mardy Grothe...

January 26, 2011

George H.W. Bush and “the vision thing”...

It’s impossible to predict what quotes will come to be indelibly associated with each president of the United States. However, the famous quotes most presidents are remembered for include some they may regret and be haunted by later.

One of the quotes by George Herbert Walker Bush in that category is his remark about “the vision thing.”

In January 1987, Bush was near the end of his second term as Vice President under Ronald Reagan. It was common knowledge that he planned to run for President in 1988.

However, some critics — including some in Bush’s own Republican Party — viewed Bush as a politician who lacked the ability to clearly articulate his fundamental beliefs and policies, as Reagan did so well.

The January 26, 1987 issue of Time magazine included an article by journalist Robert Ajemian exploring this topic. It was titled “Where Is the Real George Bush?”

One of the anecdotes in that story made “the vision thing” a famous/infamous quotation.

“Colleagues say that while Bush understands thoroughly the complexities of issues, he does not easily fit them into larger themes,” Ajemian wrote. “This has led to the charge that he lacks vision. It rankles him. Recently he asked a friend to help him identify some cutting issues for next year’s campaign. Instead, the friend suggested that Bush go alone to Camp David for a few days to figure out where he wanted to take the country. ‘Oh,’ said Bush in clear exasperation, ‘the vision thing.’ The friend’s advice did not impress him.”

Bush’s comment about “the vision thing” was quickly picked by the press and political commentators and used against him by his critics.

Bush defeated Democrat Michael Dukakis in the November 1988 presidential election. And, he won despite allegations of his “vision problems” and other indignities, such as the October 19, 1987 issue of Newsweek that featured a cover headline essentially calling him a “wimp” (“GEORGE BUSH: FIGHTING THE ‘WIMP FACTOR’”).

However, Bush’s lack of “the vision thing” as president, especially in terms of domestic policies, was seen as a factor in his defeat by Democrat Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential race. And, today, the vision quote is still commonly cited in bios of Bush. For example, even the Bush bio posted on the official U.S. Senate website says:

“Bush...suffered from his lack of what he called ‘the vision thing,’ a clarity of ideas and principles that could shape public opinion and influence Congress. ‘He does not say why he wants to be there,’ complained columnist George Will, ‘so the public does not know why it should care if he gets his way.’”

As noted by a brief entry in Wikipedia, “the vision thing” went on to become a metonym, i.e., a shorthand figure of speech. It is now used as a description “for any politician’s failure to incorporate a greater vision in a campaign, and has often been applied in the media to other politicians or public figures.”

Ironically, January 26th also happens to be the anniversary of two quotes that Bill and Hillary Clinton later regretted. For more about those quotes, click this link...

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook group.

Further reading: books about presidential quotations…

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