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PUBLISHED report questions Pulitzer Prize-winning historian's military past

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (AP) _ A Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who has said he spent time in Vietnam during the war while in the Army never went overseas, according to a published report.

Mount Holyoke College professor Joseph J. Ellis, who won a 2001 Pulitzer for history for his book, ``Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation,'' also embellished his involvement in the antiwar and civil rights movements, The Boston Globe reported Monday.

The Globe did not question the historical integrity of Ellis' books.

The newspaper reviewed public records and interviewed some of Ellis' friends and colleagues.

Ellis agreed Thursday to talk to the newspaper about the discrepancies, but the college canceled the interview.

When approached by a Globe reporter at his Amherst home Friday, Ellis refused to discuss the discrepancies and said, ``I'll have to suffer the consequences of this.''

``I believe I am an honorable man,'' he added.

Ellis, 57, did not return a message left at his home by The Associated Press on Sunday night.

Ellis, a respected colonial-era historian who has been at the women's college for almost 30 years, received the 1997 National Book Award in Nonfiction for ``American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson,'' and has written five other books as well as dozens of scholarly articles.

In an interview with the Globe last year, Ellis said he went to Vietnam in 1965 as a platoon leader and paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division. In the same interview he said his Vietnam service also included duty in Saigon on the staff of Gen. William C. Westmoreland, the American commander in Vietnam.

Mount Holyoke and Amherst College students who talked to the newspaper said Ellis' lectures in courses about the Vietnam War made it appear as if he had served in Vietnam.

Ellis was in the ROTC program at The College of William & Mary, and was commissioned an Army second lieutenant when he graduated in 1965. But his active duty was deferred four years, until August 1969, according to his military records, because he spent that time at Yale earning two master's degrees and a doctorate in history.

Ellis' military records, obtained from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, show that he did not begin his active service until August 1969, with a two-month assignment at Fort Gordon, Ga.

In October 1969, he joined the history faculty at West Point. In June 1972, he was discharged from the Army as a captain.

Ellis also appears to have exaggerated his involvement in the antiwar and civil rights movements.

At Yale, two faculty members who knew him well said they cannot recall Ellis being involved in any antiwar activity.

``Joe was a superb student. But an antiwar activist? I don't recall anything like that,'' said Gaddis Smith, a Yale history professor who oversaw graduate programs and who has written about the antiwar movement at Yale.

Edmond Morgan, an emeritus professor of history who was Ellis' thesis adviser, said he did not recall Ellis being active in the antiwar movement.

Mount Holyoke president Joanne V. Creighton released a statement praising Ellis, but not addressing the inconsistencies.
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