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Home:  >News & Events   >News Archives   >2002

Historian Ambrose sorry for copying phrases

January 6, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) — Historian Stephen Ambrose has acknowledged that sentences and phrases in his new book The Wild Blue were copied from a work by another historian.

Ambrose was accused of plagiarism by Fred Barnes, the executive editor of The Weekly Standard, in a column in the magazine’s Jan. 14 issue. Barnes charged that Ambrose borrowed passages from The Wings of Morning by historian Thomas Childers, published in 1995.

Ambrose footnotes Childers in the sections in question, but does not acknowledge quoting directly from the book, Barnes said.

Both books are about World War II bomber pilots.

In a statement issued Saturday (Jan. 5) through his publisher, the Simon & Schuster division of Viacom, Ambrose said, “Dr. Childers is correct. I made a mistake for which I am sorry. It will be corrected in future editions of the book.”

Childers, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told The New York Times for Sunday editions, “I think it is a classy thing to do, and I appreciate it.”

The two books have several similar passages, according to Barnes. For example, Childers wrote about ball turret gunners: “It was the most physically uncomfortable, isolated, and terrifying position on the ship. The gunner climbed into the ball, pulled the hatch closed, and was then lowered into position.”

A section in Ambrose’s book, focusing on former Sen. George McGovern, reads: “The ball turret was, as McGovern said, the most physically uncomfortable, isolated, and terrifying position on the plane. The gunner climbed into the ball, pulled the hatch closed and was then lowered into position.”

Ambrose, a professor emeritus at the University of New Orleans, is the author of more than 25 books. One of his books, Band of Brothers, was made into a television miniseries.

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