Herbert Sebastian Agar (29 September 1897 – 24 November 1980) was an American journalist and historian, and an editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal.


  • We are not the arsenal of democracy. We are still in the position of regarding the war as a combination of a major charity and a small boom. Another danger story, which Wheeler and Lindbergh are fostering is that this is just another of the old wars, and that it is only necessary to get rid of a few Germans and everything will be all right. That is a story which should be kept out of the public mind because it is a lie, and because it tends to keep America out of the war.
    We have to realize, and make all the American people understand, that this is a definitive revolution on a world scale against civilization as it exists. It aims to kill everything that stands for freedom; and there is no hope unless we think in terms like these.
    • Speech to a luncheon given in his honour at Grosvenor House by the American Outpost in Great Britain (8 August 1941), quoted in 'America and the Allies', The Times (9 August 1941), p. 2
  • Our religious heritage, as we have said, requires of us a belief in the dignity and worth of the common man. Our political institutions have been formed to protect this belief and to give it chance for expression. If we neglect those institutions or misunderstand them, if we neglect our religious heritage or forget what it demands of us, we expose ourselves to the danger that there may appear in our midst men willing to seize absolute power and to bring back that ancient curse, the sovereign state. There can be no Christianity in such a state, no honor for the common man. Our fathers knew this in theory, which is why they labored to build a constitutional government and not an irresponsible "state." We have learned the lesson pragmatically, watching with astonished eyes while all the theories of our fathers are proved by the most ruthless of teachers. This is why we must labor not only to destroy the Axis but to remove the sovereign state, the Moloch state, from the face of the earth.
    • A Time For Greatness (1944), pp. 82-83

Quotes about Herbert Agar

  • [T]he extraordinary skill and judgement with which Mr. Agar brings back the "feeling" of those years, so near in time, so hard to recapture in spirit, that followed the ending of the Second World War... Mr. Agar is masterly.
    • Denis Brogan, review of The Unquiet Years in The Spectator, volume 198, part 2 (1957), p. 849
  • A serious and searching book... Illuminating interpretations... Often we have been reminded by it of the writings of C. E. Montague after the last war. We cannot give it higher praise.
    • Thomas Jones, review of A Time For Greatness in The Observer, quoted in The Times (1 April 1943), p. 3
  • I hope that many people will read it and find it stimulating.
    • Eleanor Roosevelt, review of A Time For Greatness, quoted in The Times (1 April 1943), p. 3
  • This book will have an appreciable influence on our thinking both now and after the war... Terse, pungent and eloquent, trenchant and persuasive... It will attract wide attention.
    • Edward Shanks, review of A Time For Greatness, quoted in The Times (1 April 1943), p. 3
  • Written with great penetration and of special interest to our time.
    • William Temple, review of A Time For Greatness, quoted in The Times (1 April 1943), p. 3
  • A book which had a particular influence on me was the American Herbert Agar's A Time for Greatness, which appeared in 1944. This was a strangely powerful analysis of how the West's moral failure allowed the rise of Hitler and the war which had followed. It urged a return to Western liberal democratic values and – though I liked this less – a fair amount of left-wing social engineering. For me the important message of Agar's book was that the fight against Hitler had a significance for civilization and human destiny which exceeded the clash of national interests or spheres of influence or access to resources or any of the other – doubtless important – stuff of power politics.
  • A good book with a special interest for English readers... I hope it will have the widest possible circulation.
    • E. L. Woodward, review of A Time For Greatness, quoted in The Times (1 April 1943), p. 3
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