Originally posted on Practically Historical:
Stephen Ambrose was not yet cold.. in his grave and critics were vindictively trampling on it. Once respected and beloved, Ambrose spent his final days defending his legacy from merciless attacks. What had he done to precipitate such a demise? Ambrose had written history books people liked.
Plagiarism was the charge… and in academic circles it nearly amounts to a death sentence. “Reporters” discovered instances in Ambrose’s book The Wild Blue of passages that were “copied.” He apologized, then clarified that he had not committed plagiarism, but had not cited the other book according to current academic standards. Such a statement incited a witch hunt through his anthology for similarities with his source material. Ambitious newshounds went as far as to dig through the deceased man’s doctoral thesis. The ensuing maelstrom was a bizarre display of victimization of veterans, augmentation of little known authors, and academic lock step. Only in the realm of academic history could peers admit to professional jealousy while openly advocating the ostracism of the envied. No doubt some felt betrayed because Ambrose was one of them, trained at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under Professor William Hesseltine. The attacks were too coordinated, the pressure too relentless for this to be merely writers promoting academic integrity. Ambrose and the success he enjoyed had earned the scorn of the multitudes of faceless academics who could only celebrate their publishing.