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Stephen Ambrose dead at 66
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“He died of lung cancer (smoking).
I avidly read "Nothing Like It in the World," the story of the building of the transcontinental railroad. It was riviting history come alive.
The HBO film "Band of Brothers" was based on his book and definitely a great mini series. I watch it every time if repeats. I will have to read the book.”
“66 is too young.
He brought relevant history to the attention of a couch-potato society.”
“Another indictment of the tobacco industry.”
“Nasty stuf, 'tis true.
I just heard. They were replaying the installment of "Booknotes" he did on C-SPAN. He was talking about how Eisenhower had enjoyed his writing on the Civil War and called him out of the clear blue sky to write his biography.”
“Eisenhower was an astute student of the Civil War, and particularly the Battle of Gettysburg (his farm is located on a part of the battlefield).
I seem to recall a TV show where Eisenhower and some other WWII military type did a walking tour of Gettysburg and kept up a running commentary. It was interesting, to say the least.
"Nothing Like it in the World" is a remarkable history, and proof that there is more to the nation's history than all the war books one finds dominating the shelves of book stores. Then again, the building of the road was largely an outgrowth of the Civil War. Military engineers and laborers from the ranks pretty much dominated the Union Pacific.”
“Camp David is in Maryland, eh?”
“Just down the road from Gettysburg. Ike picked the area I believe, and named it for his grandson.”
“I find it interesting that none of the news reports I've heard - about 3 or 4 - mention the fact that Ambrose remains mired in a plagiarism scandal.
Ambrose regularly used direct quotes and information from more scholarly sources without quotation. He passed them as his own thoughts. On other occasions, he used direct quotations and merely used a footnote. In neither case did he give money or adequate credit to the less famous and less wealthy historians doing the gut-it-out work.
I am an English teacher. I fail students who don't adequately cite information. At least six of Ambrose's books have been called into question. Ambrose's only claim to fame is his writing and the movies that derive from these. This is what he is now being remembered for.
Unfortunately, this record might very well have been built on a house of cards. I'd rather see credit given to true historians than encouragement for people to buy more of Ambrose's deeply flawed histories.
Integrity matters. News media: report accurately and fully.
Forbes' article on the topic:
“The MSNBC story did address that issue.”
that brings up a question....
“who all is a smoker her in this form? I am wondering if all backpackers are non-smokers...(just wondering)
what do you do while you are backpacking? (don't smoke or what?)”
“I quit smoking 16 years ago.”
“SAme as Geobeet. I quit 16 years ago.”
“rl - Have you checked into the plagarisim accusations with any depth? Just wondering. I saw Ambrose address the accusations in an interview and he responded fairly confidently.
geo - I saw the Eisenhower farm from afar while visiting Gettysburg. Interesting stuff.”
“I think his book "Undaunted Courage" would really appeal to the Trailtalk crowd. It is a riveting account of the Lewis and Clark adventure.”
“I will second that. It was a great book.”
“I quit 20 yrs ago Memorial Weekend. I smoked for 10 years.”
“I think his explanation of the plagiarism is sufficient. According to the MSNBC piece, the quotation was attributed in the footnote, but not set off in the body of the text with quotation marks.
Plagiarism is, of course, a serious issue, especially so if you are the one who has been plagiarized, but even among the reading public that has a right to know the authorship of any attributable quote.
Still, I sometimes wonder to myself whether anything that can be said has not already been said by someone else. And to a writer/researcher working on a history, nailing down each and every quotation is bound to be grueling work.
The bottom line to me is that the plagiarism issue does not take away from Ambrose's work, which is amazing. Again, "Nothing Like it in the World" is a remarkable history, and rooted deeply in the terrain the railroads crossed. It, too, is worth reading for TTers.”
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