„When in doubt tell the truth. It will confound your enemies and astound your friends.“

—  Mark Twain

Last update June 3, 2021. History
Mark Twain photo
Mark Twain633
American author and humorist 1835 - 1910

Related quotes

Henry Wotton photo

„Advised a young diplomat "to tell the truth, and so puzzle and confound his enemies."“

—  Henry Wotton English ambassador 1568 - 1639

Attributed. E.g., Vol 24, Encyclopedia Britannica of Arts, Sciences, and General Literature, page 721 https://books.google.com/books?id=_GlJAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA721&lpg=PA721&dq=truth+wotton+confound+advice&source=bl&ots=-cGk3UDLLj&sig=ltOR1xtI9WFic1JWKiFmIZ8Yce0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjVkZCsj-jRAhXCyFQKHTmsCkAQ6AEIODAG#v=onepage&q=truth%20wotton%20confound%20advice&f=false (9th Ed. 1894).
Compare Mark Twain who, in Following the Equator, said "When in doubt, tell the truth" (which is often mis-quoted as containing an additional clause providing "it will confound your enemies and astound your friends").

Kurt Cobain photo

„Hate your enemies
Save your friends
Find your place
Speak the truth.“

—  Kurt Cobain American musician and artist 1967 - 1994

Radio Friendly Unit Shifter.
Song lyrics, In Utero (1993)

Gordon R. Dickson photo
Bob Marley photo
Jack Vance photo

„Count me not your friend but the enemy of your enemies.“

—  Jack Vance, Lyonesse Trilogy

Source: Lyonesse Trilogy (1983-1989), The Green Pearl (1985), Chapter 8, section 3 (p. 480)

„Bored with your present enemies? Make new ones! Tell two of your women friends that they look alike.“

—  Mignon McLaughlin American journalist 1913 - 1983

The Complete Neurotic's Notebook (1981), Women & men

Mark Twain photo

„When in doubt, tell the truth.“

—  Mark Twain, book Following the Equator

Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar, Ch. II
Not in the text, but added by many sources is the sentence: "It will confound your enemies and astound your friends." Compare this line to the advice attributed to Henry Wotton (1568 - 1639) to a young diplomat "to tell the truth, and so puzzle and confound his enemies." E.g., Vol 24, Encyclopedia Britannica of Arts, Sciences, and General Literature, page 721 https://books.google.com/books?id=_GlJAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA721&lpg=PA721&dq=truth+wotton+confound+advice&source=bl&ots=-cGk3UDLLj&sig=ltOR1xtI9WFic1JWKiFmIZ8Yce0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjVkZCsj-jRAhXCyFQKHTmsCkAQ6AEIODAG#v=onepage&q=truth%20wotton%20confound%20advice&f=false (9th Ed. 1894)
Following the Equator (1897)

Richelle Mead photo
Mario Puzo photo
Niccolo Machiavelli photo

„Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.“

—  Niccolo Machiavelli Italian politician, Writer and Author 1469 - 1527

Machiavelli commented on the relative ease of gaining favor from friends and enemies in Chapter 20 of The Prince, quoted above. However, this particular wording comes from a line spoken by Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II (1974), written by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola:
My father taught me many things here. He taught me in this room. He taught me: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
Misattributed

Sun Tzu photo

„Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.“

—  Sun Tzu ancient Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher from the Zhou Dynasty -543 - -495 BC

This has often been attributed to Sun Tzu and sometimes to Petrarch. It comes most directly from a line spoken by Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II (1974), written by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola:
My father taught me many things here. He taught me in this room. He taught me: keep your friends close but your enemies closer.
Niccolò Machiavelli, who is also sometimes credited, wrote on the subject in The Prince:
It is easier for the prince to make friends of those men who were contented under the former government, and are therefore his enemies, than of those who, being discontented with it, were favourable to him and encouraged him to seize it.
Misattributed

Hunter S. Thompson photo
William Blake photo
Benjamin Franklin photo

„Love your Enemies, for they tell you your Faults.“

—  Benjamin Franklin, book Poor Richard's Almanack

Poor Richard's Almanack (1756); this has also been quoted in a paraphrased form used by Bill Clinton in [ 1998 address to Beijing University http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/122320.stm, as "Our critics are our friends, they show us our faults".
Poor Richard's Almanack

Mario Puzo photo
Jean Cocteau photo

„Understand that some of your enemies are amongst your best friends.“

—  Jean Cocteau French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, boxing manager and filmmaker 1889 - 1963

Diary of an Unknown (1988)

Paulo Coelho photo

„Don't explain. Your friends do not need it, and your enemies will not believe you“

—  Paulo Coelho Brazilian lyricist and novelist 1947

Source: Economic Warfare Quotes

Orson Scott Card photo
James Carville photo

„Elections are about fucking your enemies. Winning is about fucking your friends.“

—  James Carville political writer, consultant and United States Marine 1944

James Carville – 1992, As quoted by Hunter S. Thompson, Better Than Sex, p. 189

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