Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Judging the novelty of historical perspectives

On March 4, 2008, IPBiz received a comment to an earlier post What Gettysburg teaches us about KSR v. Teleflex. The issue raised by the commenter is not unrelated to the use, by Tim Russert on Meet the Press, of plagiarist Doris Kearns Goodwin to discuss plagiarism. However, IPBiz notes that its use of text of Jay Winik was in an ironic mode. Winik had written about Carhart's book:

Jay Winik:
“Few generals were as brilliant as Robert E. Lee and few battles as titanic -- and puzzling -- as Gettysburg. Why did Lee fail? In Lost Triumph, Tom Carhart offers a bold and provocative new assessment. Agree or disagree, it is sure to stimulate debate among even the most seasoned Civil War buffs.”

IPBiz does NOT consider Carhart's assessment to be "new," or even "bold," and thus did NOT offer Winik's quote to prove the truth of the matter. This would be IN CONTRAST to Russert's use of Kearns Goodwin.

IPBiz has NOT studied the commenter's text on Winik, but includes it for academic inspection -->

You quote the historian Jay Winik re the plariarism issue, but Winik has his own - and to date un-acknowledged problems in this regard. Jay Winik, in his 2001 book April 1865, (Harper Collins) makes important and unacknowledged use of critical and moving passages, especially from the preamble of The Last Lion, (Little Brown & Company, 1988) by the distinguished historian William Manchester.

Here is how Manchester begins and concludes his preamble:

"The French had collapsed. The Dutch had been overwhelmed. The Belgians had surrendered. The British army, trapped, fought free and fell back toward the Channel ports, converging on a fishing town whose name was then spelled Dunkerque.

Behind them lay the sea.

It was England's greatest crisis since the Norman conquest, vaster than those precipitated by Phillip II's Spanish Armada, Louis XIV's triumphant armies, or Napoleon's invasion barges massed at Boulogne. This time Britain stood alone….

Now in this new exigency, confronted by the mightiest conqueror Europe had ever known, England looked for another Alfred, a figure cast in a mold which, by the time of the Dunkirk deliverance, seemed to have been forever lost…. Such a man, if he existed, would be England's last chance.

In London there was such a man."

And here is how Winik starts and builds his preamble:

" Atlanta had been overwhelmed. Columbia had been surrendered - and burned. Charlston had been abandoned. … The Army of Northern Virginia… had wriggled free of the enemies clutches and fallen back, converging on a defensive position around Petersburg and Richmond.

Across the slim divide of the battered landscape lay Grant's swelling Army of the Potomac.

It was the Confederacy's direst crisis since the start of the war, vaster than the fall of Vicksburg, more terrible than the failure at Gettysburg, and more traumatic than the toll of Sharpsburg. This time, the South stood irrevocably alone…

Now, confronted by the prospect of losing all, they looked to their leadership, for another George Washington, a figure who could rescue the South. In these desperate times, after al the suffering and death, after the multitude of exhaustion and despair, such a man - or such men - was the Confederacy's final chance.

In the trenches of Petersburg, there was such a man…"

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the tempo, structure and specific language of Winik's critical preamble are largely drawn from Manchester’s work.

Later in his work Winik again mirrors Manchester’s same preamble.

Manchester had written:

"(A) tribune for honor, loyalty, duty, and the supreme virtue of action: one who would never compromise with iniquity, who could create a sublime mood and thus give men heroic visions of what they were and might become…. a great tragedian who understood the appeal of martyrdom and could tell his followers the worst…"

Here is Winik:

" Lee had a sublimely romantic quality about him: he was a figure who gave men heroic visions of what they were and what they could become, was a testament to sweet humor and loyalty and duty and the ultimate virtue of action, and was true tragedian who understood his own appeal to his followers." (p. 174)

Ironicially, this blog quotes Winik re the plariarism issue, but Winik clearly has his own - to date unacknowldeged problems in this regard.



To reiterate what was already written on IPBiz: IPBiz (and LBE) do not believe, with the evidence presented, that Dr. Carhart is a plagiarist. That point is re-affirmed. That said, IPBiz does not believe that Carhart's theory was in any way new. What Winik wrote about Carhart's book is simply wrong.

Between the earlier post and March 2008, the Poshard matter has been addressed. One can see that there is a divergence of opinion on what is plagiarism, and we now fully have the concept of "inadvertent plagiarism."

An IPBiz reader noted:

gee, GHK hit the nail on the head per Carhart [sic: Winik] , especially that first
passage. But you could never "prove it" in a court of law.

By the way, there are many such similarities in scripture:

* I Sam 2:1-10 and Luke 1:47-56 (this one is very similar to the
Carhart [sic: Winik] /Manchester first passage.)

* 90% of scripture scholars think that Luke and Matthew "borrowed" or

"copied" huge sections of Mark.


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