The Stephen Ambrose Fact Sheet


Ms. Brynn is a student at the University of Washington and an intern at HNN.

Fact #1

Fee Paid for Speeches

Mr. Ambrose, according to several sources, charges up to $40,000 per lecture. In addition, he reportedly often requires the use of a Lear jet to transport him to and from events. He gave twenty paid lectures last year.

Fact #2

Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours

A son of Mr. Ambrose started a tour company that plays on the historian's popularity. Mr. Ambrose picks the locations the tourists visit. There are four different tours to choose from. Tours cost up to $3,700 per person. The tourists do not get an opportunity to meet the man for whom the company is named.

Fact #3

Stephen Ambrose, Inc.

The Wall Street Journal refers to the historian's many ventures as Ambrose, Inc. Mr. Ambrose is a Hollywood consultant (Steven Spielberg's"Saving Private Ryan," HBO's"Band of Brothers"), a television narrator, the founder of the National D-Day Museum, lecturer, tour operator, in addition to being a writer. His family, headquartered in Montana, helps out. Simon and Schuster makes millions off the sale of his books. When Ambrose stops writing, it has been noted, the impact on Simon and Schuster will be large -- as if an industrial corporation had lost an extremely profitable factory.

Fact #4

A Speed Writer

Stephen Ambrose is the Evelyn Wood of historians. It has been reported that he can write an entire chapter in under five hours, a fact that may, in light of recent disclosures, seem less remarkable than it once did. There's no gainsaying his productivity. During the past decade, Mr. Ambrose has authored nine full-length books, contributed to six essay collections, edited five others, written forewords to at least eighteen other books, and written numerous op ed articles for the New York Times and other newspapers, as Nicholas Confessore has pointed out.

Fact #5


Ambrose, Inc. reportedly earns $3 million annually. The money comes from Ambrose's book and film advances and speaking fees. Stephen Ambrose's book advances reportedly bring in $1 million a year.

Fact #6

Pearl Harbor Mistake

One of Mr. Ambrose's many books was written for children: The Good Fight: How World War II Was Won. The book mistakenly reports that Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1943.

Fact #7

Does He Read His Own Books?

On C-Span recently critics commented that at a reading Mr. Ambrose seemed unfamiliar with the text of his book, Nothing Like it in the World, which was published just two years ago. They complained that he repeatedly stumbled over his own words.

Fact #8

Ironic Review

When Mr. Ambrose's The Wild Blue appeared, Sam A. Mackie gave it a rave review in the Orlando Sentinel. Ironically, the passages he singled out for praise were all taken from Thomas Childers's book, Wings of Morning: The Story of the Last American Bomber Shot Down over Germany in World War II. Mackie noted that the rest of the Ambrose book is"often banal prose."


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More Comments:

W.W. Dimmitt - 1/18/2002

This is really too bad!

The concern about chronic plagiarism by Stephen Ambrose is a serious, and far reaching, issue in the perennial debate between academic purity and unjustified commercialization in historical penmanship.

In my opinion, you do this serious subject great disservice with the reading public, and you diminish your chosen academic discipline, when you post your list of mostly irrelevant, often illogical, "facts".

What do Facts 1 thru 5 have to do with research and/or plagiarism, in any way? They all relate to income and business ventures by Professor Ambrose, having no direct bearing on his methods of attribution to materials that he has relied upon in writing his books.

Sounds like envy, spiced by jealousy, in my opinion.

#6 is obviously a typo, one that should have been corrected by the editorial staff of the publisher, and once again casts no light on the issues of concern about Ambrose's writing methods. Are you suggesting that Stephen Ambrose does not personally know the date of Pearl Harbor?

You reveal yourself to be petty, as well as jealous.

#7 Once again, no relationship to research or attribution. Comparing his reading skills to those of President Bush is not a useful criticism in this debate.

Besides, I often stumble over phrases that I have written, when first reading them aloud. How often do any of us do that? Just because you never get the chance to stumble over phrases authored by you is not a valid reason for criticizing Ambrose when he does get that opportunity.

#8 This isn't even a fact about Ambrose!

It appears that it may be a plagiarized restatement of the Mackie review, at least that would be true if it were judged by the standards that some are demanding for Stephen Ambrose.

Please try to do better.

There are genuine issues of interest to all parties in this controversy, but you ain't articulatin' 'em.