The Corner

Reagan Biographer Craig Shirley Yells ‘Plagiarism!’

Many news outlets in the past few days have featured reporting on the charges by Reagan biographer and conservative movement stalwart Craig Shirley that lefty writer Rick Perlstein lifted Shirley’s work without attribution at least 45 times in Perlstein’s new book. Perlstein’s book covers the rise of Ronald Reagan, from the ashes of Richard Nixon’s presidency, into the status as shining-star-in-close-defeat at the 1976 Republican National Convention. I have a very lengthy, and very personal, essay of sorts on the whole subject of this alleged plagiarism over at my personal site, Because of its length and personal references, I do not ask NRO to publish it for me. Please, though, go read it here.

A tiny taste of my larger essay, here:

First, Perlstein is doing something quite unconventional  in his new book. The actual hard copy of his book not only contains no footnotes, but also no bibliography at all. This is something quite unheard of. Indeed, I would argue that it’s wholly unacceptable. A work of history or journalism that draws heavily on other work should acknowledge that other work right then and there, where the reader can see it without doing a major search of his own. Instead, Perlstein’s book calls such conventions “mostly superfluous” and refers readers to his web site, where all the attribution is supposed to be made.


But, as I said, this whole discussion involves a significant but highly relevant personal backstory of my own, involving my direct relationship, in different ways, with both of Craig Shirley’s first two books on Ronald Reagan. More at


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