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Richard Rayner, writing in the April 26, 2010 issue of The New Yorker, revealed that Ambrose exaggerated his relationship with Dwight Eisenhower.

Ambrose claimed that Eisenhower approached him in 1964 to write his biography, and he subsequently spent "hundreds and hundreds of hours" interviewing the former president. Tim Rives, the deputy director the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, discovered that it was Ambrose who approached Eisenhower about the book, and that he only interviewed Eisenhower for a grand total of five hours.


  • The Wild Blue (Simon and Schuster, 2001)

  • Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, 1863-1869 (Simon and Schuster, 2000)
  • Nixon: Ruin and Recovery 1973-1990 (Simon and Schuster, 1991)

  • Citizen Soldiers (Simon and Schuster, 1997)

  • Undaunted Courage (Simon and Schuster, 1997)

  • Crazy Horse and Custer (Doubleday, 1975)

  • The Supreme Commander: The War Years of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. (Doubleday, 1970)

  • Thomas Childers's, Wings of Morning: The Story of the Last American Bomber Shot Down over Germany in World War II (Perseus, 1995)
  • Joseph Balkoski, Beyond the Beachhead (Stackpole Books, 1989)

  • David Lavender, The Way to the Western Sea (Harper and Row, 1988)

  • Michael Sherry, The Rise of American Air Power (Yale University Press, 1987)

  • Robert Sam Anson, Exile: The Unquiet Oblivion of Richard M. Nixon (Simon and Schuster, 1984)

  • David Lavender, The Great Persuader (Doubleday, 1970)

  • Wesley F. Craven and J.L. Cate (eds.), The Army Air Forces in World War II(University of Chicago, 1949)
  • Donald R. Currier, 50 Mission Crush (Burd Street Press, 1992)
  • J.I. Merritt, Goodbye, Liberty Belle: A Son's Search for His Father's War (Wright State University Press, 1993)
  • Robert Sam Anson, McGovern (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972)
  • Edi Selhaus, Evasion and Repatriation (Sunflower University Press, 1993
  • Kay Summersby, Eisenhower Was My Boss (Prentice-Hall, 1948)

Imbroglio Ambrose began January 4, when Fred Barnes reported in the Weekly Standard that Mr. Ambrose had copied whole passages in The Wild Blue from Thomas Childers's, Wings of Morning: The Story of the Last American Bomber Shot Down over Germany in World War II."Sentences in Ambrose's book are identical to sentences in Childers's," Barnes revealed."Key phrases from Wings of Morning, such as 'glittering like mica' and 'up, up, up,' are repeated verbatim in The Wild Blue."

Mr. Ambrose and his publisher, Simon and Schuster, shortly afterward released an apology. (Click here to read the AP account).

Then, Mr. Barnes commented -- favorably -- on the speed with which Mr. Ambrose acknowledged his errors. Mr. Barnes said that Mr. Ambrose"did the right thing and did it graciously." This comment appeared on the Weekly Standard's website on January 7 at 12:30pm.

Two hours and fifty minutes later, Forbes.com advanced the story with a new finding. Forbes reported that Mr. Ambrose had also passed off as his own borrowed phrases from another historian in a 1975 book published by Doubleday, Crazy Horse and Custer. According to Forbes, Mr. Ambrose on several occasions used the same language that previously had appeared in Jay Monaghan's Custer: The Life of General George Armstrong Custer, published by Little, Brown & Co. in 1959.

For example, Monaghan describes Custer's return to the U.S. Military Academy after a furlough:"On August 28, 1859, Custer returned to West Point. Cadet James Barroll Washington, a great-great-grandnephew of George Washington, entered that year. He remembered hearing the crowd shout, 'Here comes Custer!' The name meant nothing to him, but he turned, and saw a slim, immature lad with unmilitary figure, slightly rounded shoulders, and gangling walk."

Here is Mr. Ambrose's version:"When he returned to West Point, Cadet James B. Washington, a relative of George Washington, remembered hearing the crowd shout, 'Here comes Custer!' The name meant nothing to Washington, who was just entering the Academy, but he turned and saw a slim, immature lad with unmilitary figure, slightly rounded shoulders, and gangling walk, surrounded by back-slapping, laughing friends."

On January 9 -- two days after its first story -- Forbes.com reported that two more Ambrose books include material from other historians without proper attribution:"Ambrose's Citizen Soldiers and Nixon: Ruin and Recovery 1973-1990, both published by Simon & Schuster, appear to borrow freely from certain source books without using quotation marks." In one case, Forbes was alerted to the new evidence by an email from the author Ambrose had failed to properly acknowledge. Joseph Balkowski told Forbes,"The writing [in Citizen Soldiers] seemed very familiar, and much to my astonishment, it was my own."

On January 11 the New York Times added yet another log on the burning Ambrose fire, revealing that he had also borrowed from Michael Sherry's The Rise of American Air Power and The Army Air Forces in World War II, edited by Wesley F. Craven and J.L. Cate."I am not out there stealing other people's writings," Mr. Ambrose told the Times:"If I am writing up a passage and it is a story I want to tell and this story fits and a part of it is from other people's writing, I just type it up that way and put it in a footnote. I just want to know where the hell it came from."

The second week after the story broke the media criticism of Mr. Ambrose broadened to include new complaints. Several veterans groups alleged that he was careless with the facts and made many outright misstatements in his books about them. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the troop carrier pilots in the D Day invasion of Normandy are especially critical. Mr. Ambrose claimed in two books that the men hadn't been trained for the mission and were fearful. The vets insist they trained for a year in advance of the invasion and while some were fearful, many were not. (See the website .)

Several veterans wrote HNN to complain that Mr. Ambrose rountinely refuses to correct mistakes in his books. His son, Hugh Ambrose, who helps do the research, told the Phildelphia Inquirer that"on occasion we receive letters from people that are so angry that we do not respond. The troop carriers are one example in particular. This is not a discussion, this is a diatribe."

But it's not only the vets who have found errors. After Mr. Ambrose published the bestseller, Nothing Like It in the World : The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869, writers with an expertise in railroad history charged that he had made innumerable mistakes. "The Sins of Stephen E. Ambrose" lists scores. (Example: Mr. Ambrose wrote that the railroad bridge over Niagara Falls was built by Theodore Juddah. According to the website, it was actually built by John A. Roebling, the designer of the Brooklyn Bridge.)

In the January 21 edition of the Weekly Standard (available online the week before), the editors reported learning that in 1997 Turk McCleskey (Virginia Military Institute) charged that Mr. Ambrose's adventure book about Lewis and Clark, Undaunted Courage , is a compilation of other people's work."Adding nothing substantially new," McClesky wrote in a review of the book published in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (Autumn, 1997),"Ambrose uncritically skates across the preceding literature. . . . Most of Ambrose's citations do point to more reputable scholarly sources, but not always precisely. Indeed, Ambrose's debt to his predecessors leaves him open to charges of sloppy paraphrasing, as with this wanly cited echo of Dumas Malone: 'In a country of vast estates, without cities or public transportation of any kind, with plantation seats far apart, riding was not a matter of sport or diversion but of necessity. . . . Good horsemanship was taken for granted among the gentry' (Ambrose, p. 30). Malone wrote: 'In a country without large settlements and where plantation seats were far apart, riding was not a matter of occasional diversion but of daily necessity, and good horsemanship was taken for granted among the gentry.'" The quotation from Malone appears in his six-volume biography of Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson the Virginian (1948), p. 46.)

News Bulletin
Dateline: Helena, Montana.
The Associated Press reported January 16 that Mr. Ambrose announced he is donating a quarter million dollars to local environmental groups that are cleaning up the Missoula River. The money will be used to remove an old dam. Mr. Ambrose is known for his generosity. (Note: The wire story made no mention of the plagiarism controversy.)

Competing to keep up with the Weekly Standard, Forbes.com broke a new story on January 17. Writer Mark Lewis reported that Mr. Ambrose's Nothing Like It in the World actually is very much like David Lavender's The Great Persuader (1970).

Ambrose on railroad barron Collis Huntington:"Then he got a job with a storekeeper, whom he impressed by memorizing both the wholesale and retail cost of every item in the cluttered stock and then calculating, without pencil and paper, the profit that could be expected from each piece."

Lavender:"Almost at once young Huntington bedazzled Noble by memorizing both the wholesale and retail cost of every item in the cluttered stock and then effortlessly calculating, without pen or paper or even moving his lips, the profit that could be expected from each piece, either in cash or in barter."

Mr. Lavender, reached by phone in California, told HNN that he never reads his books after they are published and didn't know if Mr. Ambrose had copied him or not. Forbes found six examples where Mr. Ambrose had.

Forbes also reported discovering that yet another Ambrose book, Undaunted Courage, contained more borrowed passages than had previously been known. One of the authors Mr. Ambrose copied was -- again -- Mr. Lavender, who also wrote about Lewis and Clark in The Way to the Western Sea (1988). In addition, Forbes reported that Mr. Ambrose also copied a passage from Henry Adams.

Ambrose:"Fewer than one out of ten Americans, about half a million people, lived west of the Appalachian Mountains, but as the Whiskey Rebellion had shown, they were already disposed to think of themselves as the germ of an independent nation that would find its outlet to the world marketplace not across the mountains to the Atlantic Seaboard, but by the Ohio and Mississippi river system to the Gulf of Mexico."

Adams:"The entire population, both free and slave, west of the mountains, reached not yet half a million; but already they were partly disposed to think themselves, and the old thirteen States were not altogether unwilling to consider them, the germ of an independent empire, which was to find its outlet, not through the Alleghenies to the seaboard, but by the Mississippi River to the Gulf."

On January 17 HNN asked readers who subscribe to our newsletter to answer to the question: "Is Stephen Ambrose a serial plagiarist?" Nearly two hundred readers responded with comments. Only half a dozen expressed support for Mr. Ambrose.

The Ambrose story took yet another turn on January 27, when the Oregonian published the story of WW II vet Bob Weiss. In 1995 Weiss sent Ambrose a memoir of his dramatic role in the battle for Mortain, France. Weiss was trying to get it published and wanted help. Ambrose wrote back to say it was a helluva memoir--"What a hell of an experience! What a wonderful piece of writing!"--and that he had"shamelessly stolen" from it for his new book about the war (Citizen Soldiers). Weiss was shocked when the book was published and all he got was four footnotes that merely indicated the information had come from a memoir of some kind rather than a manuscript that had been fully developed into a book (though as yet unpublished). Weiss grew irate, a fight ensured, Ambrose at one point firing back:

Knowing nothing about the methodology of history, you had questions about mine. Rather than call and resolve these questions amicably, you went through your law firm. Your charges amounted to an accusation that I had deliberately harmed you and your friends. The result your lawyer obtained, I'd like to note, was the same that you could have gotten with a simple phone call. Had you contacted me, I would have understood your concerns and would have done my best to fix the problem. But after being forced to confront your small mindedness on several occasions, I have lost all respect for you. You are the reason people are always damning lawyers.

George McGovern stepped up to defend Ambrose on January 28. In a letter to the New York Times McGovern, the subject of Mr. Ambrose's The Wild Blue, wrote:"He is not only a superb historian, but also a gifted writer whose books are devoured by the public, and a patriot who has donated millions of dollars to environmental and educational causes. He is one of the few great men I have been privileged to know."

Forbes.com scored another scoop on January 29, reporting that Mr. Ambrose had improperly borrowed two quotations appearing in Cornelius Ryan's The Last Battle. Both quotations were from British officials who served in World War II; neither quote was properly footnoted. The quotes appear in Mr. Ambrose's The Supreme Commander: The War Years of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. (1970) Ryan complained, noting in addition that the quotations had been garbled. Ambrose apologized and promised that in future editions he would fix the quotes and cite Ryan's book as the source. In the 1999 edition of the book the quotes were indeed rendered properly. But Ryan was never cited, Forbes reported.

On February 4 HNN published an article by Edson Strobridge challenging Mr. Ambrose's accuracy in his book about the building of the trasncontinental railroad. Edson, an amateur historian, noted that Mr. Ambrose--a professional historian--misconstrued facts and passed along fables published in a children's book.

Mr. Ambrose returned the fire of his critics in a letter published by the Wall Street Journal on February 6:

In regard to Mark Lewis's Jan. 22 editorial-page piece about me and Doris Goodwin ("Don't Indict 'Popular History'"):

There are some mistakes in this story. Mr. Lewis congratulates himself for finding examples of plagiarism in four of my books. He failed to point out that he found the phrases and sentences not through his own diligence but from my footnotes.

Mr. Lewis charges I have" cranked out" 30 books. The figure should be 24--and I wrote them. I did not crank them out.

He writes that my"plagerism is not limited to a few sentences," but fails to point out the real amount--is it 10 sentences? 15? 20?--or to mention that my books have about 50 footnotes per chapter, or some 1,000 per book, making a total of perhaps 24,000 footnotes. He fails to mention that I have published hundreds of thousands of sentences.

Mr. Lewis writes that he"received messages from disillusioned people who now view Mr. Ambrose as something of a Clintonesque villain, whose ethical lapses echo America's moral decay." That is perhaps his judgment too.

I do not agree.


Mr. Ambrose's letter infuriated many people, among them, Randy Hils, a Marine Corps veteran who has been researching the history of the Troop Carriers in World War II. In a letter to the paper he complained that Mr. Ambrose is willing to respond to media critics but not to the veterans whom he writes about.

In a separate letter, Allen Campbell--the Director of the Douglas DC-3/Dakota Historical Society--complained that"Dr. Ambrose' anti-American lies about some of our finest and greatest war heroes is sickening."Click here to read both letters.

On February 5 Dr. Kevan Elsby issued a press release disputing the story Mr. Ambrose tells about Capt. Ettore Zappacosta in D Day June 6, 1944. Ambrose claimed that the captain had to take a gun to the British coxswain to get him to land their boat:"By god, you’ll take this boat straight in." Elsby, citing the testimony of Bob Sales, the only member of the boat's crew to survive, wrote that the incident was fabricated. The story first appeared in an article by S.L.A. Marshall in the Atlantic Monthly in 1960. Where he got it from is unclear.

On February 7, in response to Mr. Elsby's press release, the Lynchburg, Virginia The News and Advance published an article about Bob Sales's account of D Day. Click here to read the story.

Three days later the Denver Post published a column by Ed Quillen. His thesis:"My problem with Ambrose isn't plagiarism - it's that he gets things wrong." E.g.: Mr. Ambrose claimed in Newsweek"that Merriwether Lewis was 'the first white man to cross the Continental Divide.' Wrong. Go back to the Coronado expedition of 1540, when Garcia Lopez de Cardenas led a party from the valley of the Rio Grande in New Mexico to the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River in Arizona. They must have crossed the Continental Divide in the process."

Mr. Ambrose's claim, often repeated, that he always corrects his mistakes was challenged by Randy Hils on February 11, 2002 in an article published by History News Network. Mr. Hils reviewed numerous attempts that have been made through the years to persuade Mr. Ambrose to make corrections in his books regarding World War II. Mr. Ambrose, reported Hils, never did. To one inquiry Ambrose indicated he was too busy:"Thank you for your letter. I respect your position. Unfortunately, I cannot re-examine the information I used to write my book, nor compare and contrast it with what you have sent. I have signed several book contracts and must apply myself to researching them."

In early February Mr. Ambrose posted a message on his website responding to his critics. In its entirety, the message reads:"Recently I have been criticized for improperly attributing other author’s writings in a few of my books. In each case, I footnoted the passage in question, but failed to put some words and sentences into quotation marks. I am sorry for those omissions, and will make relevant changes in all future editions of my books. I would also like to thank all of you who have written in to express your friendship and support."

On February 20, 2002 the Tallahassee Democrat published an article by Randy Hils that took issue with a columnist who had defended Mr. Ambrose's practices."Ambrose violated standards that would get any student in deep trouble," Hils wrote."To excuse Ambrose because he gives us 'a good read' lowers accepted standards and sends the wrong message to students."

On February 23 the Associated Press reported that Mr. Ambrose has decided to write just one last book, an account of the war in the Pacific. He told the Nature Conservancy he plans to spend the rest of his life working on conservation."In the 21st century, our best minds are going to work on how to restore nature," he said. The wire service reported that Ambrose"winced" after his speech when questioned about the plagiarism charges levelled against him."It has made me more careful, and I will quote more," he said.

The last week in February the media took a moment from Goodwin coverage to take another whack at Ambrose. On February 27, 2002 Forbes.com reported finding that Ambrose had borrowed passages from six additional books including the memoir of George McGovern, one of his chief supporters.

McGovern, Grassroots: The Autobiography of George McGovern
"One day as we drove into his farmyard we saw Art sitting on the steps of his back porch, tears streaking down his dusty face. I had seldom seen an adult cry. Art Kendall explained to my dad that he had just received a check from the stockyards for a year's production of pigs. The check did not cover the cost of trucking the pigs to market."

Ambrose, The Wild Blue
pg. 30"Once, while hunting with his father, he saw a farmer named Art Kendall sitting on the steps of his back porch, tears streaming down his face. Kendall explained to McGovern's father that he had just received a check from the stockyards for that year's production of pigs. The check did not cover the cost of trucking the pigs to market."

The other books Forbes include:

  • Donald R. Currier, 50 Mission Crush (Burd Street Press, 1992)
  • J.I. Merritt, Goodbye, Liberty Belle: A Son's Search for His Father's War (Wright State University Press, 1993)
  • Robert Sam Anson, McGovern (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972)
  • Edi Selhaus, Evasion and Repatriation (Sunflower University Press, 1993
  • Kay Summersby, Eisenhower Was My Boss (Prentice-Hall, 1948)

In the LIFE GOES ON department: We came across the following advertisement on Primedia's about.com history website (March 2002):

Join the Stephen Ambrose Italian Campaign Tour, April 17-28 NEW! From Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours -- The Italian Campaign Tour --April 17-28, 2002. This unique tour designed by historian Stephen E. Ambrose follows in the footsteps of General Mark Clark and American 5th Army during the pivotal 1944-45 battles in Italy. The extraordinary 11-day, 9-night tour is led by Twenty-Five Yards of War author and retired USMC Captain Ron Drez. Visit www.stephenambrosetours.com or call today: (888) 903-3329.

Critics of Mr. Ambrose had heard that the the Theodore Roosevelt Association planned to award the Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal to him this year and asked John Gable, the association's leader, if this were true. He responded on March 3, 2002 that it is.

On March 11 National Review published an article by Mr. Ambrose on the subject of nation-building (Ambrose is for it). The article did not mention the plagiarism scandal. Unlike its sister conservative journal, the Weekly Standard, which broke the Ambrose story, National Review ignored it.

On March 31 the Times-Picayune, which is based in New Orleans, home of the Ambrose-sponsored D-Day Museum and Ambrose-founded University of New Orleans (UNO) Eisenhower Center, published a highly critical seven-page front-page story about Ambrose. Ambrose detractors praised the piece, which emphasized the mistakes Ambrose has made in his books about World War II, West Point and the transcontinental railroad rather than his alleged plagiarism. Among the mistakes: Ambrose was forced to apologize for a mistake in his history of West Point published by Johns Hopkins. The mistake was suppose to be corrected in a subsequent edition; it wasn't. Hopkins says it is to blame.

The article also included a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Ambrose at work:"While writing 'Crazy Horse and Custer' in the 1970s, Ambrose wore cowboy boots and buckskin at UNO. He grew his hair long and braided it while working on Crazy Horse, then let it hang free as he turned to the parts about Custer. During work on Eisenhower's biography, Ambrose clipped his hair short and, according to his wife, Moira, grew more conservative. He dubbed his Mississippi writing studio in Bay St. Louis 'Eisenhowerplatz.'"

On April 30, 2002 Stephen Ambrose announced that he had lung cancer. The Associated Press included in its dispatches a brief mention of the plagiarism scandal.

In early May Mr. Ambrose published a defense of his writing methods on his website. He denied that he was guilty of plagiarism, insisted that the" copied words" investigative reporters had discovered in his books only amounted to"10 pages out of a total work of some 15,000 pages in print," and promised to insert quote marks in"all future editions and have already done so in The Wild Blue." He added:

I do my writing at a computer, surrounded by my research; interview transcripts, documents of all kinds, books. I mix them to describe an incident. Usually I have five or more transcripts, plus copies of documents and books on the table. I take material from them all.

When I'm using the words of an interview -- which is what I rely on, mostly -- I always use quotation marks around the phrases or sentences. When I'm using information or description from books by scholars, I always cite the source.

But if I have already named a praised and quoted the author in my book, I don't name him or her again, and sometimes I have failed to put quotation marks around their words. I'm not trying to hide anything. Indeed, I want people to read their books.

On May 10 Mark Lewis, the reporter at Forbes.com who broke many of the stories the magazine published about Ambrose, broke another. The eye-catching headline: Ambrose Problems Date Back To Ph.D. Thesis :

"It now appears that the problems in Wild Blue reflect a pattern that can be traced all the way back to his University of Wisconsin doctoral thesis from 1963. Titled Upton and the Army, it concerns the career of the 19th-century military tactician Emory Upton. The thesis was published in book form with the same title by the Louisiana University Press in 1964, and is still in print and featured on Ambrose's Web site. Forbes.com obtained a copy of the original thesis. A cursory check of four randomly selected sources listed in its bibliography turned up at least 11 examples of inadequate attribution--all of which are replicated in the book version.

In each instance, Ambrose copies a phrase or a sentence from his source, perhaps changes it a bit, and then footnotes the passage. The endnotes indicate the source, but do not indicate that the source's words are used without quotation marks. This is the method that got Ambrose in trouble after Wild Blue was published last fall, when a reader noticed a familiar-sounding phrase that turned out to come from one of Ambrose's sources.

An accompanying table highlighted the parallels between Ambrose's text and that of four other historians including Bruce Catton. Each example included phrases or a couple of sentences that had been copied; there were no examples of extensive copying as was the case with the other Ambrose books.

In his article Mr. Lewis noted that it may be true that only 10 pages out of some 15,000 had been found to contain copied words without quote marks,"but the examples that have come to light mostly have been discovered by randomly dipping into his body of work, a method that has yielded a very high percentage of 'hits.' That suggests a pattern that might well be confirmed by a more exhaustive examination of all his books."

On May 11 the Los Angeles Times reported that Mr. Ambrose's health problems were more serious than many had suspected or that he had previously let on:

After struggling with an on-again, off-again penchant for Marlboro Lights, the swashbuckling historian has come down with advanced lung cancer. Without treatment, the doctors told him earlier this month, he'd be lucky to live six months."I'd give anything to have a year," Ambrose says."Two years would be...." He doesn't finish the sentence. His wife and daughter blink and stare resolutely ahead. The thought is there: Two years is a long time for a bad case of lung cancer.

According to the paper, Mr. Ambrose revealed that he had abandoned his"much-awaited book on the Pacific theater of World War II, put lectures and ribbon cuttings on hold." But the historian indicated he was finishing his memoir, though he hesitated to call it that, for it would contain nothing"about my sex life."

As for the allegations of plagiarism, he said that he had decided"Screw it," he would finish his memoir."If they decide I'm a fraud, I'm a fraud. I don't know that I'm all that good at academics. I'm a writer."


In June 2002 if you happened to visit Mr. Ambrose's website, you'd have seen on his homepage a prominent link to an article by Richard Jensen which we published on HNN:"In Defense of Stephen Ambrose." Clicking on the link took you to HNN's website and the Jensen article. Within a short period of time the article was reposted on the Ambrose site. Readers no longer were linked to HNN. What happened? Ambrose critics figured out that if they posted comments on the Jensen article published on HNN they could reach the readers who click on the Ambrose website. As an email circulated to Ambrose critics put it,"Here is a great opportunity to have your opinions posted thru Ambrose's own website!"

In August the OAH featured a debate of sorts between Mr. Jensen and Mark Lewis, the Forbes.com reporter who wrote the most stories about Ambrose's alleged plagiarism. Lewis defended his journalism, which Jensen had questioned.

I am, as Richard Jensen points out, a mere journalist and not a professional historian. But if his use of my Forbes.com articles is typical of the way he handles primary sources, I’m not sure Jensen is the best person to instruct me in the ways of scholarly attribution.

He condems an article I wrote about the charges Cornelius Ryan hurled at Stephen Ambrose in 1970, when Ambrose’s The Supreme Commander was published. Jensen labels this article “false” because Ambrose “did not use a single word of Ryan’s.” But I make no such assertion. I simply cite Ryan’s accusation that Ambrose quotes two British officers without attributing the quotations to their source, an earlier Ryan book. Ambrose, I write, “is not accused of presenting Ryan’s words as his own, but of denying Ryan proper attribution.”

. . . Despite what Jensen implies, no one accuses Ambrose of plagiarizing massive chunks of text, or of stealing the fruits of another historian’s scholarship without giving credit. If those are felony offenses, then perhaps what Ambrose is accused of doing is more of a misdemeanor. But it is an ethical lapse nonetheless. It may not be plagiarism as defined by the American Historical Association, and it may not rise to the level of copyright infringement, but when the accused is a best-selling author celebrated for his ability to craft compelling narratives, it rises to the level of news.

Jensen responded:

Forbes.com boasts it is the “Home Page for the World’s Business Leaders” and peddles flattering reports on corporate CEOs. Lewis writes for its Celebrity Page, which features “100 Top Celebrities” and “Best Paid CEOs”; it polls its readers not on historiography but rather, “With which celebrity would you most like to have dinner?” Regarding the Cornelius Ryan case, in 1970 Ambrose slipped by misattributing one short quote to the wrong general. Lewis found this ancient episode newsworthy enough for an entire column. Ambrose behaved correctly, yet on 9 July, Forbes.com included this exposé in its roundup of the Enron, Tyco, Martha Stewart, and WorldCom scandals. Muckraking is in demand this year; Forbes.com has to attack somebody, so it turns its guns on historians.