Talk:Stephen E. Ambrose

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This article is a hit piece[edit]

I don't deny that he's made mistakes, some big ones, but this article is far too skewed in the direction of a hit piece. It needs to be dramatically restructured if it is going to be neutral. I've made this point in the past, but the situation has actually worsened. CheeseStakeholder (talk) 19:56, 1 May 2012 (UTC)

Are you speaking of the entire article or just section 3 entitled "Criticism"? Although I have only contributed to the two paragraph subsection therein on the Pacific Railroad (a subject on which I have also written several books), it seems to me in reading over the rest of the entire section that all of the criticism's noted are well referenced and properly cite objective sources that support many instances of factual errors and/or apparent plagiarism in Ambrose's published works. If you disagree then please be specific about what you mean by the article being "far too skewed in the direction of a hit piece" and provide objective sources that support your contention. Centpacrr (talk) 20:38, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
I'm talking about the sheer volume of space. The whole article is slanted against him. CheeseStakeholder (talk) 21:06, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
The volume of space in the article devoted to criticism seems to me to be well justified by the significance and impact of how and why what is covered there affected his reputation as a professional historian and scholar as well as the views of fellow historians and the public of the overall reliability of his works. Centpacrr (talk) 21:15, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
Criticism consumes over half the substantive text. It's overkill and "recentism" and has to be cut. Given the opposition here I've had to ask for outside views. CheeseStakeholder (talk) 21:22, 1 May 2012 (UTC)

There are several paragraphs that are clearly in violation of WP:SYNTH, since they lack reliable secondary sources specifically mentioning Ambrose and his work. So as a start they can be removed if no such sources can be found. User:Barsoomian has tagged the paragraphs in question. --Saddhiyama (talk) 13:53, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

Get the sense that this article is being used to advance an opinion. Although many of the controversies may reference facts many are relatively minor in nature and needn't be addressed. Similar minor controversies with other authors and personalities do not follow this pattern. Better would be a balanced view of his life and contributions. --Optomic (talk) 04:44, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
I agree, at least as far as the WWII section is concerned. Scrounging through primary documents to try to find a factual errors is original research; it would be better to find coverage of Ambrose's errors in significant secondary sources. If those can't be found, it shouldn't be in the article. Further, Ambrose was reported on and profiled extensively throughout his career; surely the article is misrepresenting those sources by devoting so much to individual criticisms from trivial sources. -- Khazar2 (talk) 00:48, 17 January 2013 (UTC)
For example, one of the bits of evidence raised against Ambrose is a interview with Bob Sales in which he says Ambrose relied on other sources, including an Atlantic Monthly article, to report that a coxswain threatened soldiers with a gun; Sales says these sources were wrong and that Ambrose shouldn't have trusted them.[1] The source is a Lynchburg, Virginia newspaper that no one's ever heard of.
There are many more high-profile stories and reviews of Ambrose that we don't include here; it seems pretty clear to me that minor sources were being selected for the specific purpose of building a case against Ambrose. I've removed the paragraph in question. -- Khazar2 (talk) 00:56, 17 January 2013 (UTC)
I would like to weigh in here, because I'm perplexed by the lead-in at the top of the article. A typical lead in for well known persons, be they actors, singers, authors, etc, will generally be a summary of the most important accomplishments of their life/career. In some cases, if warranted, a smaller portion dedicated to negative or controversial portions of their lives in the end paragraph of the lead in. This is the case for the Michael Jackson article, and even for O.J. Simpson's wikipedia page. Here on Mr. Ambrose's page, however, the majority of the lead in is based in negativity. The lead in should be a representation of everything within the article, and not entirely focused only on one portion. The current lead in should be revised, with a larger portion dedicated to accomplishments by the author, and the negative portion revised into a smaller summary, as is the normal wikipedia standard. I'm willing to make these changes but I want to put my intentions here first for discussion before I do so. I welcome consenting or dissenting opinion on the matter.RTShadow (talk) 18:44, 29 May 2017 (UTC)
I have to respectfully disagree here. The "negativity" in the lead-in consists of 36 words in one sentence: "Beginning late in his life and continuing after his death, however, evidence and reports have continued to surface documenting longtime patterns of plagiarism and inaccuracies in many of his published writings and other work." Considering the number of works involved, and the length and level of the controversy that surrounded many of Ambrose's books, this hardly seems to be overkill. Centpacrr (talk) 20:53, 29 May 2017 (UTC)
I must agree with User:RTShadow regarding the lead-in at the top of the article. The lead-in consists of two paragraphs. The first paragraph consists of only two lines which state his name, etc., and that he was a historian. The second paragraph consists of four+ lines which contain nothing but criticism of his work. As stated by User:RTShadow, "the majority of the lead in is based in negativity." I think the reverse would better serve the article. I think a one sentence statement that points to the criticism section in the body of the article would be quite enough; otherwise, it seems to me that a prospective reader's initial viewpoint may be skewed toward negativity before even reading the rest of the article, and may, perhaps, even stop the reader from continuing to read the entire article, doing a great disservice to the objectivity of Wikipedia articles in general. Starsmark (talk) 20:14, 19 February 2018 (UTC)

Oh no we have started our own controversy![edit]

"Ambrose asserts, in several works, that the German Panther tank used an 88mm gun. In fact, it used a 75mm gun. The German Tiger I and King Tiger tanks used the 88mm gun as did the Jagdpanther ("Hunting Panther"), a turretless tank destroyer version of the Panther.[citation needed][improper synthesis]"

sorry but thats not strictly true, in fact it is just as wrong as what Ambrose said the Tiger I did not share the same gun as the Tiger II and Jagdpanther as the article suggests. the 88 Kwk/Pak 43 were used on the Tiger II and Jagdpanther (an earlier version appeared on the Ferdinand/Elefant tank destroyer). Whereas the Tiger I used the 88 KwK 36 which was a completely different weapon. The gun of the Tiger I was not as powerful and quite a lot shorter.

I am not 100% sure on the facts but if I am correct can someone change it. (Fdsdh1 (talk) 23:07, 5 November 2012 (UTC))

shall I put this paragraph back in perhaps
"Ambrose asserts, in several works, that the German Panther tank used an 88 mm gun, however the only variant of the Panther tank using an 88 mm was the Jagdpanther, a turret-less tank destroyer."
I don't see any problem with having the controversy section, inaccurate/poor use/or simply not enough use of sources is a big no no. We could probably forgive him when it comes to the numbers of troops and the like because sources sometimes vary but plagiarism is unacceptable.
(Fdsdh1 (talk) 19:02, 29 May 2013 (UTC))

new material[edit]

I will be adding new information to this page in an effort to mitigate some of the bias noted by several editors over the years. The new information provides detail on Ambrose's accomplishments, particularly regarding his efforts to document the World War II experience through the memories of veterans. I will not be altering the original intent of previous editors or removing any information, particularly as regards the "Criticism" section, though my own original research has produced more questions then certainty regarding charges made against Ambrose. I plan to add some clarifying information under "The Eisenhower controversy" sub-section to provide context, but not to challenge the information provided previously. I appreciate that Wikipedia pages are not the forum for personal opinions or long-winded explanations. My only intent is to create a better balance in the facts offered on this page by providing detail to those areas of Ambrose's life and deeds which are not in question.Whodat789 (talk) 21:39, 20 March 2014 (UTC)whodat789

Citation [1][edit]

There has been much talk under the heading "This article is a hit piece." The crux of the controversy stems from the lead-in at the top of the article. The lead-in provides one citation but no link. I just found the cited article. The citation states that it is from a New York Times Book Review dated November 17, 2002, by William R. Everdell, and gives the title of the review as: "Personal history: How Stephen Ambrose turned himself into America's most prominent chronicler of World War II."

Firstly, there is no link to this NYT article, which I've found (see below). Secondly, the article in not entitled "Personal history: How Stephen Ambrose turned himself into America's most prominent chronicler of World War II." The article is entitled "Personal History," and it is a review of Stephen Ambrose's book, TO AMERICA: Personal Reflections of an Historian. In the text of the article, William R. Everdell wrote: "One of his aims in it is to answer the question: how did a major academic historian manage to turn himself into one of the most popular historians in America, head of a family corporation bringing in $3 million a year?"

I agree with "This article is a hit piece," and I am disturbed by the criticism in the lead-in having only one citation; moreover, that the one citation has no link and it is incorrectly named.

In view of all of this, I am going to rewrite the second paragraph of the lead-in, correct the name of the NYT Book Review article and furnish the link that goes with citation [1].

I have never done more than minor edits on Wikipedia and I hope what I do is correct. If my edits resolve the problem of "The neutrality of this article is disputed," I will try to remove the template message after I receive some sort of positive confirmation. Thank you to all who have spent time discussing this issue. I want Wikipedia to be the best it can possibly be and I know that all who participate feel the same.

[1] Starsmark (talk) 22:51, 19 February 2018 (UTC)

OK, I made the changes I talked about above but I don't think my link to citation [1] showed up correctly in the References section. Obviously, I do not know how to do it correctly. Please help if you can. Thank you. Starsmark (talk) 23:27, 19 February 2018 (UTC)


  1. ^ Everdell, William R. (2002-11-17). "Personal History". The New York Times.