The huge, turgid work of history, sinking under the weight of its own 'politically correct' thesis and its foot- and source notes, is not the British way of writing history, and never has been.

I come from a family that was very strong, very successful, very bizarre, and terrifically exciting. Being a Korda is something I regard as special - not wonderful, or worthy of a national monument, but special.

I'm a relatively unfocused person.

Indeed, it is measure of how little we know about Cleopatra that the only images of her are either the coins she struck, bearing very unflattering official portraits of her, or some doubtful busts, which may be of other women imitating her coiffure.

I'm always astonished when I go into Barnes & Noble at the number of people buying books, of course, but also at the variety of books they do buy and the extent to which they are not the big bestsellers.

To have a childhood surrounded by people like Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh sounds glitzy, but for years I wanted to repress it. I couldn't take that kind of power and success.

Never reveal all of yourself to other people; hold back something in reserve so that people are never quite sure if they really know you.

In Britain and Europe, no event is less forgotten than World War I, or 'The Great War,' as it was called until 1939.

About once a decade, it becomes necessary to remind Americans again that Ulysses S. Grant was a great man, indeed a giant figure. The usual way to try to do this is by publishing a thumping big biography, and let me say that there is nothing wrong with this, although it still hasn't worked.

When my elders mentioned 'The War,' they invariably meant that of 1914-1918, even after 1939, for the Second World War was merely the continuation of the first, 'an armistice of 20 years,' as Marshal Foch had accurately predicted at the Versailles Peace Conference, with some changes of side.

The rich and famous expect to get a lot for their story, whether they are writing it themselves or not. It's not that they need the money, of course; it's a question of ego, like catching the biggest fish.

Nixon knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish in his four interviews with David Frost, quite apart from having his agent Irving Paul Lazar negotiate a terrific deal for him, with cash up front.

It used to be that the highest ambition of American novelists was to write 'the Great American Novel,' that great white whale of American fiction that would encompass all the American experience in one great book.

To succeed it is necessary to accept the world as it is and rise above it.

In my experience, with very few exceptions - I am, as it happens, one of the exceptions - the one thing that most editors don't want to do is edit. It's not nearly as conducive to a successful career as having lunch out with important agents or going to meetings where you get noticed.

Ronald Reagan had a kind of shallow movie-star charisma - a combination of makeup and the skill of a good actor - but it wasn't the real thing, and was something that he could turn off when the cameras weren't running.

'Il faut vivre' might almost be the French national motto from 1940 to June 1944, but who is to say ours would have been any different if the Germans had paraded victoriously through London and Generalfeldmarschall Von Runstedt made his headquarters at Claridge's?

The bestseller list is the tip of the iceberg.

FDR had a certain charisma, at least in his first term, with the big grin, the cigarette holder at a jaunty angle, and the battered hat on his imposing head, but no other American president since then has had it except JFK - indeed, some of them have been positively anti-charismatic, like Gerald Ford, Carter, and the Bushes.

Act well at the moment, and you have performed a good action for all eternity.

It strikes me that people want to be engaged, and that those who go into a bookstore in a time of crisis are much more likely to be looking for explanation than for escapism.

Patton's personality was a complex one - he was obsessed with glory, but behind the ivory-hilted pistols, the egomania, the forbidding scowl, and the rows of ribbons, there was a much more ambiguous figure.

The men who died at D-Day did not die shoulder-to-shoulder with their French comrades. They died to liberate the French from a sinister and brutal occupation.

The biggest fool in the world is he who merely does his work supremely well, without attending to appearance.

There are people to whom heroism under fire comes naturally and seemingly without effort, but Patton was not one of them.

While politicians may be forgiven for failing to predict the future - who can, alas? - it is amazing that they defiantly ignore the past.

Art teaches nothing, except the significance of life.

The studio moguls were certainly bigger-than-life figures, but they were also tough and unforgiving street fighters to a man, redeemed only because they were also the butt of so many Hollywood jokes.

Surrounded by high-paid publicity people and professional ego massagers, movie stars, like politicians, almost invariably come to believe that they are nicer, more charming, and more beloved than they appear to be to a casual observer, and that their stories about their careers are universally fascinating.

I am a stupendously fast reader and always have been. I can read in at least three languages fluently and two languages with a little bit more difficulty.

One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.

Many years ago, I had the pleasure of editing a book by Joan Crawford, who, like Norma Desmond, was still a big star; it was just the movies that had gotten smaller.

I don't give plots to Harold Robbins or Graham Greene, because they don't need them, but a lot of authors do.

The relationship between stars and their fans is always ambivalent and often highly charged with contradictory and ambivalent emotions, of which the most powerful is need.

The first thing to be said about 'Prague Winter,' former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's new book, is that she very wisely chooses to confront early on in it her apparent surprise at learning late in life that she was born Jewish.

Success has always been easy to measure. It is the distance between one's origins and one's final achievement.

I once attended a birthday party where Danny Kaye dropped in to entertain the birthday boy and his guests; I was sometimes taken for lunch on Saturdays by my father to The Brown Derby; and my favorite meal is still the Cobb salad in the Polo Lounge of the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Nobody could emerge from a childhood at MGM unscathed.

Success was always critical to me. What it meant was winning enough praise and external admiration that I could feel myself to be a logical extension of my Uncle Alex, Uncle Zoli, and my father, in that order.

Of course the rich and famous tend to have more going on in their lives than ordinary people, but they aren't always willing to tell the interesting bits.

Luck can often mean simply taking advantage of a situation at the right moment. It is possible to make your luck by being always prepared.

There used to be a strong belief that if you wanted to know what was really going on in a country, the best thing to do was to go there and ask a taxi driver.

Prime ministers come and go, but so long as he or she lives, the sovereign remains, receiving and reading all state papers and meeting once a week with the prime minister to advise, enquire, and comment - sometimes sharply, as was the case with Queen Elizabeth II and Mrs. Thatcher - on affairs of state.

When someone has spent a lifetime trying to survive a death sentence, the last thing you want is your children uncovering what you have been at such pains to conceal.

We, in America and Great Britain, have never had to live with evil and ignore it, or pretend it wasn't happening, as people did all over Europe, and indeed, even in Germany herself.

Years of standing in the limelight portraying other people for large amounts of money does not usually lead to a high degree of self-examination, let alone self-criticism.

Curiosity is the best motive for writing: curiosity about the world at large, or about oneself.

Chanel took women out of corsets and put them into the 'simple little black dress,' the perfectly tailored suit, the bell-bottom sailor pants, and jersey tops.

Most biographers are apt to be discouraged by the sheer volume of papers left behind by their subject.