Plagiarism is chiefly stupid, since it exposes the plagiarist as either indolent or lacking in original thought.

The Devil of History

On Sunday, had an essay on the recent Fareed Zakaria plagiarism case. For those of you who don’t follow American middlebrow news sources with a passion, the story is that Zakaria—a regular commentator and columnist for CNN and TIME magazine—lifted a paragraph about the book Gunfight almost wholesale from a New Yorker article by Jill Lepore to include in his column. (See the comparison at NewsBusters, here.) Zakaria’s been suspended from both jobs, and has published one of those “I shouldn’t have done this, though I make no attempt to explain why I did” apologies.

The authors of the Salon piece, two history professors from Louisiana State University, use Zakaria as the jumping-off point for an attack on big-budget popular history and the non-historians who do it. I’m happy to see them get in some punches on the genre’s recycling of what we already know as “Great New…

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