What would make a historian lie?

Garrison Keillor writes about the apparent whoppers told by late historian Stephen Ambrose. Ambrose claimed he spent hundreds of hours interviewing Dwight Eisenhower, while Eisenhower’s records say maybe five hours.

Keillor muses about what would motivate Ambrose to lie like that; his personal experience suggests it’s resentment:

Plenty of people have said nice things to me over the years that I vaguely remember, but I remember with stunning clarity where I was sitting in algebra class when my classmate Cliff Nordstrom reached over and put his thumb and forefinger around my wrist and told me that I had skinny arms “like a girl’s.” The moment burns in my memory 52 years later, a permanent wound in my life.

Ditto, a dozen other small slights. A review of a book of mine, mostly favorable, but one sentence was like a shiv between the ribs, and that is the sentence I remember.

It’s resentment, I think, that lights a fire of ambition in our tails and drives us to beat our wings on the porch screen, hoping to reach the incandescent glow of fame and fortune.

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