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A WWII History Repeats Itself

Publishing: Book on bomber pilots includes parts of earlier work. Some call it plagiarism.

January 06, 2002|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Historian Stephen E. Ambrose has been accused of plagiarizing sections of "The Wild Blue," his recent book about World War II bomber pilots.

Fred Barnes, a columnist for The Weekly Standard, argues in the Jan. 14 issue of the magazine that Ambrose borrowed passages from "The Wings of Morning," a book by historian Thomas Childers about the same topic.

Ambrose included footnotes that cite Childers' book as a source for the sections, but the footnotes do not acknowledge that he quotes directly from the book, Barnes said.

Childers told the New York Times that he had concluded that Ambrose borrowed from his book extensively and said he was "sort of disappointed."

The two books have several similar passages, Barnes said. 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 S. 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, sending word through a relative, declined to comment Saturday.

A spokesman for the Simon & Schuster division of Viacom, which published the book in August, told the New York Times: "All research garnered from previously published material is appropriately footnoted."

Ambrose, a professor emeritus at the University of New Orleans, has written more than 25 books.

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