Letters to the Editor: Dr. Davis Agus’ plagiarism isn’t just his ghostwriter’s fault

Three books on a wooden table.
Books by USC oncologist Dr. David Angus.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The Times has uncovered yet more examples of apparent plagiarism by USC oncologist Dr. David Agus.

As an author of a well-used college textbook in the 1970 and ‘80s, I know how hard it is to write research-based books and how much effort goes into proofreading, fact-checking and crediting work by other authors. By the time the author submits the manuscript, they can almost recite the entire book.

Instead, Agus hired a ghostwriter and, judging by your article, he appears not to have reviewed the manuscripts submitted to the publisher, Simon & Schuster.


Almost as appalling as Agus’ plagiarism are the concluding paragraphs of this article quoting Lisa Flashner, president of the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine, as saying Agus brought the situation to his colleagues’ attention immediately and the institute does “incredible work to the highest standards.”

So parents, what is a USC faculty member like Agus teaching your child? That is, if he ever manages to go to class and teach.

Phyllis Specht, Pasadena


To the editor: As a writer of unpublished articles over the last eight years contemplating publishing a book, I am furious with the “author,” his ghostwriter and his publisher for putting out these highly plagiarized books. They all know better than to publish without attributing another’s work.

Has Agus read any of his own books and said to himself that “these are not my words and thoughts?” He is responsible for every word. Yet, one must question whether he read any of them himself.

As the man whose name is in front and center on the books, isn’t he the arbiter of what appears within? If The Times could discover that more than 200 passages in Agus’ books are nearly identical to previously published works, couldn’t Simon & Schuster have done the same?


Agus has disgraced himself, the institute he heads, the university he represents and his publisher, among others.

Richard Z. Fond, Sherman Oaks