Best Quotes by Thomas Mallon

By | March 17, 2019

I think that the worst form of naivete can be extreme cynicism. If you think that nobody comes to Washington to do any good whatsoever, that is almost as bad as being starry-eyed and thinking that they are all here to advance democracy.

Thomas Mallon

I often tell people who want to write historical fiction: don’t read all that much about the period you’re writing about; read things from the period that you’re writing about. There’s a tendency to stoke up on a lot of biography and a lot of history, and not to actually get back to the original sources.

Thomas Mallon

American secretaries of state have typically been more buttoned up than bon vivant, but John Quincy Adams’s diplomatic successes – bigger than anything presidential or legislative that he achieved – still surprise a student of his personality.

Thomas Mallon

John Quincy Adams ranks with Jimmy Carter on the roster of ex-presidential redemption. Instead of completing a biography of his father, he let himself be elected to the House, where he spent nine terms in Whiggish opposition to the Democrats, supporting a national bank and a protective tariff and internal improvements.

Thomas Mallon

Of all Americans who have appeared on the nation’s postage stamps, Ayn Rand is probably the only one to have thought that the United States government has no business delivering mail.

Thomas Mallon

The Czech Republic, severed from its old Slovak half, sits in apparent landlocked contentment, inside the European Union but outside the troubled Euro Zone, set into the new Continental mosaic like one of the small sturdy paving stones, just a few inches square, that form the sidewalks under the visitor’s ambling feet.

Thomas Mallon

The cosmic game changed forever in 1992. Before then, logic told us that there had to be other planets besides the nine (if you still count poor Pluto) in our solar system, but until that year, when two astronomers detected faint, telltale radio signals in the constellation Virgo, we had no hard evidence of their existence.

Thomas Mallon

Stars, of course, are too hot to support life, so wherever life might exist in the universe, it has to be on planets or moons that are warmed, but not incinerated, by the stars they travel around.

Thomas Mallon

The romantic appeal of solar sailing has ensured that its advocates consistently come from the worlds of both science fiction and science fact.

Thomas Mallon

The green appeal of solar sailing – traveling by light, once chemical propellants have done their dirty job of orbital insertion – ought to be powerful.

Thomas Mallon

I’m not convinced that Nixon would have survived in office if he’d burned the tapes, but I do believe he would have served out his presidency if he’d never made them in the first place.

Thomas Mallon

The late Tom Wicker’s biography of Nixon, called ‘One of Us,’ is really quite good: you see the biographer discovering dimensions of sympathy for his subject that he hadn’t expected to feel.

Thomas Mallon

With ‘Fellow Travelers,’ I think I was consciously trying to imagine what my own life as a gay man might have been like if I’d been born exactly 20 years earlier.

Thomas Mallon

I’d have to say that Nixon feels like the public figure who most dominated my life – from the time I went to fourth grade wearing a Nixon-Lodge button in the fall of 1960, through my college years, which overlapped with Kent State, Cambodia, the China trip and all the rest.

Thomas Mallon

Nixon had been to China. He had been to Russia doing arms negotiation. And so, he was on his way toward what happened in November, which was an electoral win with 49 states. And the sheer unnecessariness of the Watergate break-in is something that must have tormented him and his allies in all of the years that followed.

Thomas Mallon

Bobby Kennedy’s conduct toward Lyndon Johnson was childish and despicable. As the years went on, he displayed nasty, self-pitying, and messianic qualities that would have made him a dangerously authoritarian president.

Thomas Mallon

National Review’ came along, in ’55, at the moment when American conservatism most needed it.

Thomas Mallon

I was raised – and still consider myself to be – Catholic, though I’m non-practicing and haven’t fulfilled my Easter duty since sometime during the Nixon years. I’m assailed by all kinds of stimulating doubts, but I do believe in God.

Thomas Mallon

I actually think that ‘Bandbox,’ by far the silliest of my books, is the best constructed of them.

Thomas Mallon

One’s politics are part of one even when one is writing. But if I want to say anything about the state of civil society, I will write an essay. The responsibilities you feel as a novelist are literary ones, I think, not civic ones. And I think politicians are interesting to write about.

Thomas Mallon

I’ve long been interested in the role of ‘minor characters’ in major events. This has been the focus of a lot of the fiction and nonfiction I’ve written.

Thomas Mallon

For almost every novel I’ve written, I’ve read the daily newspaper of the time almost as if it were my current subscription. For ‘Two Moons,’ which was set in 1877, I think I read just about every day of the ‘Washington Evening Star’ for that year. For ‘Henry and Clara,’ I read the ‘Albany Evening Journal’ of the time.

Thomas Mallon

One decision I made in writing ‘Henry and Clara’ was that I would keep Lincoln’s appearances and any dialogue by him to an absolute minimum, because I think readers don’t quite believe it when novelists have Lincoln walking around and saying things. They just know they’re in the presence of stage machinery.

Thomas Mallon

My house in Connecticut is very quiet, and when I’m trying to concentrate, I don’t even allow the cat inside my second-floor study.

Thomas Mallon

Cell phones, alas, have pretty much ruined train travel, which I used to love. I could read or even sketch notes for what I was working on.

Thomas Mallon

I like writing dialog but don’t think I’d be much good at a screenplay. I once had to write a treatment for a novel of mine – a condition of its being optioned by a movie producer – and I turned out something pretty lackluster. So my inclination would be to stay out of the way of an experienced screenwriter.

Thomas Mallon

I’ve always got a novel under way, but if I try to work on it every day, exclusively, I falter. So I always keep more than one thing going.

Thomas Mallon

Letters had always defeated distance, but with the coming of e-mail, time seemed to be vanquished as well.

Thomas Mallon

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