Amid Controversy, Ambrose Proves History Repeats Itself

by Staff

Historian Stephen Ambrose has had a lot of explaining to do lately. The bestselling author is accused of copying passages from a source without attribution in four of his more than 20 published books.

The controversy started when, in a recent issue of The Weekly Standard, executive editor Fred Barnes accused Ambrose of copying phrases from Wings of Morning (Addison Wesley Longman, 1995) by Thomas Childers and inserting them in his current bestseller The Wild Blue (Simon & Schuster, 2001), a book about bomber pilots in the air war over Europe in World War II.

Ambrose responded with an apology: "Dr. Childers is correct. I made a mistake for which I am sorry. It will be corrected in future editions of the book."

The story doesn't end there, however. Days after Ambrose's admission, identified similar instances of copied passages in Ambrose's Crazy Horse and Custer (Doubleday, 1975). The author allegedly borrowed phrases from Custer: The Life of General George Armstrong Custer (Little, Brown, 1959) by Jay Monaghan.

Ambrose told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that he used some of Monaghan's words. "I should have put quote marks around them," he said. But more accusations were on the way.

On January 9, reported two more books by Ambrose-Citizen Soldiers (1997) and Nixon: Ruin and Recovery 1973-1990 (1991), both published by Simon & Schuster-contain passages similar to those in other texts.

As of this writing, Ambrose has not responded to the latest charges.