Fareed Zakaria Shot the Sheriff But Did Not Shoot the Deputy

This charge is false, as 10 minutes' work by the Washington Post would have shown.

Yesterday, the Washington Post claimed that Fareed Zakaria lifted a quote for his 2008 book The Post American world without acknowledgment that the quote in question was first published in a 2006 book by Clyde Prestowitz. The problem, as David Frum points out,

This charge is false, as 10 minutes’ work by the Washington Post would have shown.

The 2009 paperback does contain a citation to Prestowitz: footnote 11, page 262. We photocopied the page this very afternoon at the DC Public Library’s central branch: I’m hoping the PDF below is legible. We couldn’t locate a physical copy of the 2008 hardcover edition in time, but Amazon’s “look inside” feature shows Prestowitz there in hardcover too, also in footnote 11, page 262.

Frum provides additional context and some personal anecdotes attesting to the fact that, as a general matter, Zakaria is fastidious in giving credit for ideas.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Theory that footnote was added in subsequent printings perhaps?

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The sharks are circling….

  3. It’s also worth noting that, according to the Post story, Prestowitz: sure thought the quote had been lifted without credit:

    In an interview Monday, Prestowitz said Grove made the comment in an interview with him that was conducted while Prestowitz was researching his book. The quote appears in the book’s first chapter.

    Prestowitz, who heads the Economic Strategy Institute, a Washington think tank, said he contacted Zakaria about the Grove quote when “Post-American World” was published four years ago but received no response. Prestowitz said he also mentioned the lack of attribution to his editor and agent, but he doesn’t know if they raised the issue with Zakaria or his publisher.

  4. Murray says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    As Frum documents, both the hardcover and the paperback editions cite the source in full.

    I am no fan of Zakaria, but this story is nonsense.

  5. @Murray:

    Then why did Prestowitz send Zakaria an email after the First Edition came out?

  6. al-Ameda says:

    Queue up that classic Saturday Night Live character, Emily Litella for the obligatory, “Nevermind”

  7. @Murray:

    Correction. The story merely says that Prestowitz “contacted” Zakaria. The most likely explanation is that the first edition of the book did not contain the citation and the book was later updated.

    I don’t know that this is a big deal, but I think it’s a bit of shark jumping to say the Post made the story up.

  8. Prestowitz may have been upset that the text didn’t name him–a ridiculous standard which is completely unworkable, IMHO, as it would make non-fiction books unbearably dreary to read but one which journalists who do a lot of interviews would like to see adopted. I say this as someone who has had quotes lifted entirely without attribution; to me, the quote belongs to the source, not me.

  9. mattb says:

    @Megan McArdle:

    Prestowitz may have been upset that the [main] text didn’t name him

    That seems a pretty believable reason.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    As I understand it, his footnotes were trapped in the OTB moderation queue.

  11. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @michael reynolds: You bastard, you actually made me snort with that line. Painfully.