From Publishers Weekly
An adviser to the American Historical Association on plagiarism, Hoffer focuses on the four most notorious recent cases of professional historical misconduct in this useful and reasonably argued study: Michael Bellesiles's manufacturing of data in Arming America
; Joseph Ellis's fabrication of a fraudulent Vietnam-era past for himself; and the documented plagiarisms of Doris Kearns Goodwin and Stephen Ambrose. In the case of Goodwin, historian Hoffer, of the University of Georgia, cites not only the much-written-about instances of copying in The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys
but also the L.A. Times'
s investigative work showing that Goodwin plagiarized from books by Joseph Lash, Grace Tully (Franklin Roosevelt's secretary) and Hugh Gregory Gallagher when cobbling together her Pulitzer Prize–winning No Ordinary Time
. With regard to Ambrose, Hoffer goes back to the historian's earliest works to document an apparently lifelong pattern of word theft. In the end, Hoffer sees the sins of Bellesiles (falsifying research data) and Ellis (lying to students and the press about his personal history) as in a different and smaller league. Hoffer examines these cases in the broader context of the professionalization of history, the battle between academic and popular history, and professional standards. Those concerned with the integrity and future of the field will find this analysis illuminating.
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"What emerges ... are ... [Hoffer's] love for his discipline and his grief for the losses it has sustained." -- Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2004