Thursday, April 12, 2007

Losing the War Against Truth

I am biased, because I know and like Paul, but this is an overreaction on Raincoast's part:
The Canadian publisher of a well-regarded book about the U.S. invasion of Iraq has decided to solve a plagiarism problem with it by "disposing" of all warehoused copies of the book.

Vancouver-based Raincoast Books announced the action yesterday, but refrained from specifying whether the disposal would involve pulping, recycling or incinerating about 2,000 copies of A War Against Truth: An Intimate Account of the Invasion of Iraq by Toronto author Paul William Roberts.

The book, published in 2004, was a nominee that year for the $25,000 Charles Taylor Prize for excellence in literary non-fiction and was cited by PEN Canada in 2005 when it named Roberts the inaugural winner of a prize honouring courage in journalism.

The disposal of the $24.95 trade paperback follows a decision Raincoast made in January to halt shipments of the text to its Canadian and U.S. customers after lawyers for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution notified the publisher that A War Against Truth contains numerous "elements [that] . . . closely resemble or are indistinguishable from passages" in an article the Georgia newspaper published on Sept. 29, 2002.

In a subsequent letter of apology, Roberts admitted the plagiarism, from the article "Bush's real goal in Iraq: Invasion would mark the next step toward an American empire," by Jay Bookman.

But Roberts said it was inadvertent and more the result of an "egregious lapse of professional conduct" and "the dangers of sloppiness" than any malicious intention to borrow without attribution. The lifted sections occupy about five pages of the 400-page book.

Paul fucked up; he apologized; the aggrieved parties were satisfied; a correction was offered. So why the pulping? Were they afraid the plagiarism virus would seep into copies of the new Harry Potter while everyone slept?

I hope another publisher grabs the book and – after making whatever changes/ammendments necessary – reprints it. Toot sweet.

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