Every generation rewrites the past. In easy times history is more or less of an ornamental art, but in times of danger we are driven to the written record by a pressing need to find answers to the riddles of today.... In times of change and danger when there is a quicksand of fear under men's reasoning, a sense of continuity with generations gone before can stretch like a lifeline across the scary present and get us past that idiot delusion of the exceptional Now that blocks good thinking.
John Dos Passos (1896–1970), U.S. novelist, poet, playwright, painter. The Ground We Stand On: Some Examples From the History of a Political Creed, sec. I. " The Use of The Past," Harcourt, Brace and Company (1941).