Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Say it ain't so Stephen

Well, he can't, as he is dead, but I am sad to hear allegations that Stephen Ambrose made up interviews with Dwight Eisenhower. These purportedly fake interviews were essential to his books on Eisenhower. The New Yorker has the details. Yahoo has an overview of the coverage. I imagine people will now pore over his books to find more examples of dodgy research. This makes me sad as I have greatly enjoyed many of his books.


Paul said...

It isn't the first time he has been shown to have shoddy research and even plagiarism. As a historian Ambrose is probably one of the worst out there. But not many people know that because his nationalistic style of history is popular and rarely questioned by the reading public.

How appropriate though, I'm working on a blog entry on some great historians to read. I bet you can guess that Ambrose isn't on it.

Tripp said...

Hey I will be interested in reading that.

As to the historian question, we need a better term than pop historian for the likes of Ambrose. They are really more like journalists in that they tell a story well.

Paul said...

A better term than Pop History would be a good thing. But alas much like Popular science books and such, it is goign to remain pop history.

Though I will say that there have been some good histories produced by those who aren't historians.

I put up the entry and you can take a look. I think I''m going to do a second one after I go through my thesis bibliogrpahy and a few other sources I have later tonight and add a few more These were just off the top of my head.

Citizen Reader said...

I like the question of what to call Ambrose's writing, but I would shy away from journalism. A man known for his plagiarism and lies shouldn't be associated with journalists! They're having a hard enough time as it is.

You know I feel differently about Ambrose (hate him), but I'm sorry you feel badly about his books now. Look at it this way--you've still enjoyed a lot of good writing; it was mainly just writing other people did first (and did their homework for). Or maybe that makes it worse. I'm still sorry about your disillusionment. And I'm off to check out the list of great historians Paul references.

Tripp said...

Oh it happens CR. A pity but it happens to be sure.

Tell me, who do you dislike more, Patterson or Ambrose, or is that like saying would you rather be bitten by a lion or a tiger?

Citizen Reader said...

Oh gosh, Tripp, that's a thinker. I think I'd still have to say I hate Ambrose more, because Patterson's just a moneygrubber, but Ambrose was a moneygrubber and a big part of making the WWII "Good War" myth that has screwed us up now for decades.

Plus everyone, even readers who like him, are pretty up front about Patterson being a hack. Ambrose still has an air of scholarly respectability that I don't think he ever earned.