Historians in Trouble

“Wiener takes the modern university as his beat, and covers it like a police reporter. Wiener’s mean streets are the think tank, the scholarly symposium, and the faculty lounge.” — John Leonard

Some historians accused of misconduct have their careers destroyed, while others end up receiving the National Humanities Medal from George W. Bush. Why is that?

Historians have been in the news recently, and the news has not been good – accusations of plagiarism, research fraud, and classroom misconduct have made headlines, brought protracted investigations, and, in some cases, landed big names in the courtroom.

In Historians in Trouble (buy it at Amazon), investigative journalist and historian Jon Wiener examines a dozen history scandals of the last few years, and asks why some charges end up on page one and end careers, while others do not. He argues that media spectacles end careers only when powerful groups outside the profession demand punishment?and that such campaigns typically come from the right rather than the left.

Focusing on controversies ranging across the political spectrum and representing a wide variety of charges, Wiener looks at the well-publicized cases of Michael Bellesiles, the historian of gun culture accused of research fraud; accused plagiarists Steven Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin; Joseph Ellis, who lied in his classroom at Mount Holyoke about having fought in Vietnam; and the disputes over misconduct by Harvard?s Stephan Thernstrom and Emory’s Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, who nevertheless were appointed to the National Council on the Humanities by George W. Bush, and the misconduct of Allen Weinstien (read an update on Allen Weinstein, who nevertheless was nominated by President Bush to be Archvist of the United States.

Read the reviews of Historians in Trouble

Update on Allen Weinstein