Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Larry Sabato says Webb lifted passages for novel

We were all laughing when TC posted a "Did James Web Plagiarize" entry in his blog, and then never provided any information. It turned into a scatalogical humor thread, and we all went on our way.

But it turns out he was correct. Larry Sabato confirms it (from NRO):

Larry Sabato, the University of Virginia professor of politics, has seen 17 passages from Bergamini that resemble passages from Webb. “There are some passages that were lifted, that’s just obvious,” he says, while noting that perhaps Webb has some explanation for the similarity that hasn’t occurred to him. “It could have been taken care of with one line in the author’s note. Even in fiction you have to acknowledge an intellectual debt.”

The book in question is "The Emperor’s General".

The 1999 novel, a work of historical fiction, earned Webb a $1 million advance and $2 million for the film rights (according to Variety). Running the novel through a plagiarism detector available online makes it clear that it cribs dialogue and information from the late David Bergamini’s Japan’s Imperial Conspiracy, a popular history released in 1971. But Webb doesn’t credit Bergamini. You wouldn’t expect footnotes in a novel, but you would expect a reference to source material in an author’s note, in acknowledgments, or in suggestions for further reading. Bergamini doesn’t get a mention anywhere, in either the hardback or paperback versions of Webb’s book.

The article gives a few examples, here is one trivial one:

Bergamini translated Japanese documents for his book; many bits of dialogue taken from those documents would have been unavailable to Webb without Bergamini’s work. Sometimes it’s phrases that were lifted. So, for example, Bergamini refers (paperback, p. 200) to “a buccaneers’ enclave called Karak at the tip of the Korean peninsula.” Webb (paperback, p. 346) refers to “a pirate’s enclave called Karak at the tip of the Korean peninsula.”

Now, Webb is writing fiction, while the book he took the phrases and sentences and ideas from was, it appears, an historical reference. Still, I'm just a hack opinion writer, but when I take a sentence from the Washington Post, I put it in quotes and acknowledge the source.

It is revealing that Webb collecting millions for a book and didn't even acknowledge the extensive work done by someone who was instrumental in some of the passages of his book.

The point is that we know NOTHING about Webb, because the media has IGNORED HIS LIFE. If Webb was a republican, Allen's campaign wouldn't have had to bring up his writings about women, the Washington Post would have run front-page articles about it. The WP would have dug up people to say Webb was hard to work with, that he quit his secretary post after only 10 months.

They would have told us all his flip-flops, all his bizarre beliefs he has expressed over the years. They would have lambasted him for changing his mind about people, for holding a 20-year-grudge. They would have highlighted his temper, they would have ridiculed him for thinking some island in the pacific was important.

They most certainly would have printed all the salacious details of Webb's books. They would have wondered about his "strange love" for Scots, and would have given us profiles of the student he slept with while teaching at the academy. They would also have found every detail about the woman who claims Webb stalked her in the 90s.

But because the Washington Post hates Allen, because Webb is a democrat, they have given him a pass on everything. We have to put up with democrat activists claiming that in a roomful of people they were the ONLY ones to hear Allen use the n-word repeatedly and loudly, but we can't learn about Webb lying about taking the lead in getting billets for women, or for getting an African American on the memorial -- instead, we would have had women quoted complaining about Webb fighting a women's vietnam memorial. His words about how "few" of them served would have been hung around his neck, but he's the left's poster boy, the Washington Post's candidate.

Webb knows NOTHING about Virginia. He doesn't seem to care, and I wouldn't be surprised if he quits the Senate after a year or so. But we can't know about that, because the important thing is that some nut-case assaulted Allen supporters at a private event and had to be restrained (only the media turns it into an attack by Allen himself).


Citizen Tom said...

I will say the same thing I said at Too Conservative. This is a stretch. At worst, Webb took pieces of a history book (probably from multiple history books), scenes that actually happened, put them his own words, and then included these scenes in his novel. Then he failed to include footnotes or references. Just how common are footnotes and references in novels?

How do you steal history? If you described Lincoln giving the Gettysburg address in your own words, would you be guilty of plagiarism because someone else had described the same scene before you? Have you ever read a historical novel? Lots of footnotes, right?

STOP THIS SILLINESS! Because of his record and his positions on the issues, I intend to vote for Allen. I think there plenty of people who feel the same way. Can we please get back to those issues?

Charles said...

I think if you read my commentary, I say pretty much the same thing as you, except that as a writer myself I certainly would have acknowledged if I was taking entire phrases and sentences.

As I said, in my opinion columns I am studious about quoting, even if I'm just taking one particularly good word.

My point in this post was that this is exactly the kind of thing the Post and the Media and the left-wing bloggers would be screaming about if it was Allen.

And we know that because they actually spent a week about Allen "plagiarizing" a BILL.

I've written about the issues, I wrote a column about the issues, but the media is making this about character, as if Allen is DEVOID of character and Webb is the blessed Virgin Mary come back to earth to be an honest and independent voice of reason -- when in fact he has run a dirty campaign.