Historians in Trouble

Plagiarism, Fraud, and Politics in the Ivory Tower

The revealing and much-discussed look behind the scenes of recent headline-grabbing controversies in the history profession

“Some historians accused of misconduct have their careers destroyed, while others end up winning the National Humanities Medal from George W. Bush. Why is that?” —from Historians In Trouble

Available for the first time in paperback after being widely reviewed and discussed upon its hardcover publication, Historians in Trouble is investigative journalist and historian Jon Wiener’s “incisive and entertaining” (New Statesman) account of several of the most notorious history scandals of the last few years.

Focusing on a dozen key controversies ranging across the political spectrum and representing a wide array of charges, Wiener seeks to understand why some cases make the headlines and end careers, while others do not. He looks at the well publicized cases of Michael Bellesiles, the historian of gun culture accused of research fraud; accused plagiarists and “celebrity historians” Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin; Pulitzer Prize winner Joseph J. Ellis, who lied in his classroom at Mount Holyoke about having fought in Vietnam; and the allegations of misconduct by Harvard’s Stephan Thernstrom and Emory’s Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, who nevertheless were appointed by George W. Bush to the National Council on the Humanities.

As the Bancroft Prize–winning historian Linda Gordon wrote in Dissent, Wiener’s “very readable book . . . reveal[s] not only scholarly misdeeds but also recent increases in threats to free debate and intellectual integrity.”


“[Wiener’s] argument . . . is persuasively mounted.”
Financial Times
“Wiener covers the modern university as if it were a police beat.”
—John Leonard, Harper’s Magazine
“As readable as any political thriller.”
Library Journal
“Make[s] the case clearly and forcefully that historians’ violations of common standards of ethics are not to be taken lightly.”
Los Angeles Times
“Intrigues and educates . . . Wiener has a journalist’s knack for boiling complex cases into digestible bits.”
The Seattle Times

Books by Jon Wiener

Conspiracy in the Streets
The Extraordinary Trial of the Chicago Seven

Jon Wiener

Goodreads Reviews