With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

R. Fred Ruhlman: Accused plagiarist says he's engaging in soul-searching

The University of Tennessee Press has suspended all sales and recalled all stock of Captain Henry Wirz and Andersonville Prison: A Reappraisal, which was published this fall, after the author acknowledged “grave oversights” in crediting another author for material.

R. Fred Ruhlman, the author of the book that is being pulled, teaches history as an adjunct at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. University officials said they were awaiting a full investigation by the press before determining whether any action would be taken....

In an interview Tuesday, Ruhlman said that he worked on the book for six years and that “it has become quite evident that I still have learning to do about producing a scholarly work.”

He characterized the overlap with [William] Marvel’s book [Andersonville: The Last Depot] as being in 8 to 10 paragraphs in which he had engaged in “very close paraphrasing” without necessary attribution. Ruhlman said he had engaged in “some soul-searching” to try to figure out what happened, and that he’s not sure.

Any similarities with Marvel’s wording was “unintentional,” Ruhlman said. He added that he agrees with his publishers that — in light of the similarities between his book and Marvel’s — his “does not meet the standard” to be published.

Ruhlman said he first worked on Andersonville for his dissertation at the American University of London, a distance learning institution that he said awarded him a Ph.D. based on the dissertation, without any course work. The university is incorporated in Nevis, and did not respond to calls or e-mail messages.

In an interview, Marvel said that he hadn’t heard of Ruhlman’s book until he was asked to review it. After he found numerous similarities — he said that they are “more extensive” than Ruhlman suggested — he called back the editors at The Georgia Historical Quarterly and said he didn’t feel he could be objective in his review. Eventually, he was persuaded to write the review (which focuses on the similarities) and to tell the Tennessee press about his concerns....
Read entire article at Scott Jaschik at the website of Inside Higher Ed