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Plagiarism Charges Halt Shipment of Canadian Bestseller

Yes, it’s another plagiarism story. And somehow, it seems a good bet there will be more of them. This week’s edition features Toronto author and Harper’s magazine contributor Paul William Roberts, who has admitted that his 2004 book THE WAR AGAINST TRUTH: AN INTIMATE ACCOUNT OF THE INVASION OF IRAQ, contains “elements [that] . . . closely resemble or are indistinguishable from passages” in an article in the Sept. 29, 2002, Atlanta Journal-Constitution by deputy editorial-page editor Jay Bookman, reports the Globe & Mail’s James Adams.. The breach was brought to the attention of the Atlanta newspaper by blogger Matthew Skirvin late last year.

In a Jan. 19 letter of apology to a lawyer for the newspaper, Roberts called his failure to acknowledge the use of Bookman’s material in five of his book’s 350-plus pages “a journalistic travesty” and “an egregious lapse of professional conduct,” but he said the failure was inadvertent, more the result of “the dangers of sloppiness” than an act of malice or bald plagiarism. As a result of the flap, Roberts’ publisher, Raincoast Books, halted shipments of the title to Canadian and U.S. customers on Jan. 8, shortly after it received notice of the breach and “highlighted comparisons” from Atlanta. The stay affects about 2,000 copies of the $24.95 trade paperback currently in the Raincoast warehouse, according to the company’s vice-president of marketing, Jamie Broadhurst.

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