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29 April 2010


I worked for a year for an Eisenhower-related commission and found this fascinating. Not just the Ambrose part, but the fact that they have so much detailed information about Ike's schedule even during his retirement.

I found that super interesting too. I really know very little about Eisenhower (sum total of my knowledge: military man, interstate highways, military-industrial complex) but that article actually made me want to read more about him. Talk about organized. I was also a little surprised that it took so long for this type of information to come to light, too--I suppose there's just no time to check every scholar's claim that they've spent "hundreds" of hours interviewing someone.

I love this post coupled with the bereavement book below. You are on a high (or would that be a low?) Have owned the Ambrose Lewis and Clark since it came out and still have not cracked it open. I have a great marriage (if I do say so myself) and held off a long time before I read the Didion book. I was afraid it would be too devastating, but I loved it. Can't picture the Rosenblatt, partly because I don't have kids, which makes a big difference in coping with a sudden death.

I don't know whether you'd term it a high or low but I definitely got way more of a happy buzz than I should have from the Ambrose news. I am a terrible, little person. But I can't help it. I have to take my chuckles where I finds 'em.

I have Didion's Year of Magical Thinking back from the library right now and am going to re-read it; I'm thinking it may actually be a book I buy. I don't know why I find that Didion/Dunne partnership so fascinating, but I do--I'm glad you loved it too (and I'm glad you have a great marriage--always nice to hear in a world where a lot of marriages are emphatically not great).

The Ambrose news was shocking but not that surprising when you think about it. Cheaters cheat. It's kind of annoying that he is still venerated but I suppose since he's dead it doesn't matter *that* much. Jack Shafer, the press columnist at Slate, is great on plagiarism, BTW, if you get your schadenfreude kicks that way (I do, so I'm not passing judgment). He hasn't written about this latest Ambrose thing but he was great recently on Gerald Posner, author (or should I say "author") of Miami Babylon, who was busted plagiarizing for The Daily Beast. It's all a reminder that doing this stuff right is damned hard work -- and those who do should get credit. Those who don't deserve to be publicly shamed.

Oh, I didn't think the Ambrose news was shocking at all. I have always thought and continue to think that he was a type of war profiteer, and profiteers of any kind will do whatever it takes to keep the good times going.

Thanks for the Jack Shafer tip. I'm going to check it out. You're right about this writing and research stuff being work--it's hard enough to get at the truth even when trying, after all. Faulty memories in memoirs are one thing--but in historical research, our standards should be a bit higher. Or at least they would be in a perfect world, if we all had a bit more time and resources to dedicate to tracking down these types of details. I say kudos to the person who discovered the discrepancy in interview hours and outed it!

Plagiarists seem to be coolly thinking: "The reading public is so dumb; they'll never notice." Wrong!

Well, I think they think that, and also that no one has any time to check all this stuff anymore (and I think they're largely right on that). I think they also subscribe to the George W. Bush school of truth-telling: "Just keep saying it, and it will BECOME true."

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