Earlier today we received this reply from Simon & Schuster’s director of publicity to my column today, “Reagan Authors in Plagiarism Fight”:
Dear Mr. Lord and Mr. Pleszczynski,
I am writing with regard to Mr. Lord’s spurious article on Craig Shirley’s accusations against Rick Perlstein. I thought you might want to see our reply to Mr. Shirley’s lawyers to better inform your perspective. We have examined Mr. Shirley’s claims, found them to be entirely without merit, and responded to him accordingly. In The Invisible Bridge, Rick Perlstein, an acclaimed and award-winning historian and author, has written an 800-plus page masterwork that draws upon hundreds of sources, all of which are amply credited in more than 4000 citations. Making this claim even more absurd, these citations are readily available for one and all to see on Mr. Perlstein’s website, where Shirley’s work alone is credited more than 100 times, and with links to the relevant passages where available. Readers and reviewers alike will see past Mr. Shirley’s spurious claim and recognize The Invisible Bridge for the brilliant, groundbreaking work of history that it is.
VP/Executive Director of Publicity
Simon & Schuster
Thanks to Cary Goldstein for the response. But praising an author’s “acclaimed” reputation does not answer a central question.
I have picked — at random — from my own library the classic The Life of Andrew Jackson by Marquis James. Published in 1938 by Bobbs Merrill. It won the Pulitzer Prize for author Marquis James. James died in 1955. There are 103 pages of Chapter Notes. So here I am with a valued source book about an American president published 76 years ago by an author 59 years dead. Every last source James used, were I of a mind to check, is right there in the book. How long will the website containing those 4,000 citation for Perlstein’s book last? Will it still be there 76 years from now — in 2090? Will it still be there 59 years after Perlstein’s death? Who will maintain the site and guarantee arrangements for its existence forever? Simon & Schuster? Perlstein? Curiously, this question is never answered in the material Mr. Goldstein has forwarded.
I think it’s fair to say this question goes right to the heart of what Mr. Goldstein bafflingly seems to view as Mr. Perlstein’s “innovative and dramatic” Internet display of those 4,000 citations. I can only assume that the reason this is not addressed by Simon and Schuster is that they understand full well that eventually Mr. Perlstein’s site and its 4,000 cites will go the way of melted snow. Leaving behind a book that to some Perlstein reader decades hence will appear completely unsourced. If there is a plan for the preservation of this website in perpetuity, we hope Mr. Goldstein will share it with the reading public of 2014. Doubtless some reader of Mr. Perlstein’s book way out there in the future of 2090 will like to know where to access his sources.