April 5, 2002


The invaluable Dennis Loy Johnson of Moby Lives (a great book site) has printed a speech that no one else is apparently willing to touch FOR HISTORY'S SAKE: THREE PULITZERS THAT SHOULD BE REVOKED (Philip Nobile, April 5, 2002, A talk given at the Columbian University graduate student conference, "History of Activism – History as Activism") which asks :
Regarding its rogue prize–winners — Alex Haley, David McCullough and Doris Kearns Goodwin — what will the Pulitzer Board do? History awaits the answer.

Mr. Nobile believes that all three authors should have their Pulitzers revoked : Haley (Roots) & Goodwin (No Ordinary Time) for plagiarism; McCullough (Truman) for using a fabricated document to make it look like Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved as many as one million American lives.

The Brothers Judd believe though that the problem lies deeper than the misdeeds of the authors and is really located in the political bias of most award committees. As our reviews of Truman (1992)(David McCullough 1933-), No Ordinary Time : Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt : The Home Front in World War II (Doris Kearns Goodwin 1943-), and the other notoriously fabricated recent award winner Arming America : The Origins of a National Gun Culture (2000) (Michael A. Bellesiles) suggest, if you're a pretty good history writer and you are willing to tell the Leftist satraps what they want to hear, the prizes will be forthcoming. We are less bothered by the technical plagiarism and falsification, which after all are an integral part of literary tradition, than by the fact that these three decorated volumes are antihistorical in their respective whitewashing of Harry S Truman and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and in the claim (by Bellesiles) that guns were exceedingly rare in early America. Since their very theses are false, mightn't we anticipate some chicanery by the authors when it comes time to buttress their specious arguments?

We admire Mr. Nobile for his insistence that the Pulitzer Prizes be revoked and believe Bellesiles's Bancroft Prize should be too. And we offer huzzahs to Mr. Johnson for airing these views. But we regard the systemic political corruption of the awarding institutions to be a far more significant problem, one that mere revocations of bogus prizes will do nothing to cure.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 5, 2002 7:02 AM
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