Doris Kearns Goodwin

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Doris Kearns Goodwin
Goodwin at the LBJ Library in 2016
Born Doris Helen Kearns
(1943-01-04) January 4, 1943 (age 75)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Education Colby College (B.A.)
Harvard University (Ph.D.)
Occupation Historian, author, political commentator
Years active 1977–present
Spouse(s) Richard N. Goodwin (m. 1975)
Children Richard, Michael and Joseph Goodwin

Doris Helen Kearns Goodwin (born January 4, 1943) is an American biographer, historian, and political commentator.

Goodwin has authored biographies of several U.S. presidents, including Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream; The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga; Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln; and her most recent book, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism.

Goodwin's book No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1995.

Early life and education

Doris Helen Kearns was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Helen Witt (née Miller) and Michael Francis Aloysius Kearns. She has a sister, Jene Kearns.[1][2] Her paternal grandparents were Irish immigrants.[3] She grew up in Rockville Centre, New York. She attended Colby College in Maine, where she was a member of Delta Delta Delta and Phi Beta Kappa, and was graduated magna cum laude in 1964 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in 1964[4] to pursue doctoral studies. In 1968, she earned a Ph.D. in government from Harvard University, with a thesis titled "Prayer and Reapportionment: An Analysis of the Relationship between the Congress and the Court."[5]

Career and awards

In 1967, Kearns went to Washington, D.C. as a White House Fellow during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. Johnson initially expressed interest in hiring the young intern as his Oval Office assistant, but after an article by Kearns appeared in The New Republic laying out a scenario for Johnson's removal from office over his conduct of the war in Vietnam, she was instead assigned to the Department of Labor; Goodwin has written that she felt relieved to be able to remain in the internship program in any capacity at all. "The president discovered that I had been actively involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement and had written an article entitled, 'How to Dump Lyndon Johnson'. I thought for sure he would kick me out of the program, but instead he said, 'Oh, bring her down here for a year and if I can't win her over, no one can'."[6] After Johnson decided not to run for reelection, he brought Kearns to the White House as a member of his staff, where she focused on domestic anti-poverty efforts.[7]

After Johnson left office in 1969, Kearns taught government at Harvard for 10 years, including a course on the American presidency. During this period, she also assisted Johnson in drafting his memoirs. Her first book Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, which drew upon her conversations with the late president, was published in 1977, becoming a New York Times bestseller and provided a launching pad for her literary career.

A sports journalist as well, Goodwin was the first female journalist to enter the Boston Red Sox locker room. She consulted on and appeared in Ken Burns's 1994 documentary Baseball.

Goodwin won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for History for No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front During World War II (1994).[8]

Goodwin received an honorary L.H.D. from Bates College in 1998.[9][10][11][12][13][14] She was awarded an honorary doctorate from Westfield State College in 2008.

Goodwin was on air talking to Tom Brokaw of NBC News during their 2000 Presidential Election Night Coverage where Brokaw made his announcement that NBC had in fact projected the state of Florida for George W. Bush making him president.[15]

Kearns Goodwin at a "Dinner with Lincoln" event in November 2017.

Goodwin won the 2005 Lincoln Prize (for the best book about the American Civil War) for Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (2005), a book about Abraham Lincoln's presidential cabinet. Part of the book was adapted by Tony Kushner into the screenplay for Steven Spielberg's 2012 film Lincoln. She is a member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission advisory board.[16][17][18][19] The book also won the inaugural American History Book Prize given by the New-York Historical Society.

Goodwin was a member of the board of directors for Northwest Airlines.

Goodwin is a frequent guest commentator on Meet the Press, appearing many times (during the tenures of hosts Tim Russert, Tom Brokaw, David Gregory, and Chuck Todd), as well as a regular guest on Charlie Rose, appearing a total of forty-eight times since 1994.

Stephen King met with Goodwin while he was writing his novel 11/22/63, due to her being an assistant to Johnson, and King used some of her ideas in the novel on what a worst-case scenario would be like if history had changed.[20]

In 2014, Kearns won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction for The Bully Pulpit.[21] It was also a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist (History, 2013)[22] and a Christian Science Monitor 15 best nonfiction (2013).[citation needed]

In 2016, she appeared as herself in the fifth episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke.[23]

Plagiarism controversy

In 2002, The Weekly Standard determined that her book The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys used without attribution numerous phrases and sentences from three other books: Times to Remember, by Rose Kennedy; The Lost Prince, by Hank Searl; and Kathleen Kennedy: Her Life and Times, by Lynne McTaggart.[24] McTaggart remarked, "If somebody takes a third of somebody's book, which is what happened to me, they are lifting out the heart and guts of somebody else's individual expression."[25] Goodwin had previously reached a "private settlement" with McTaggart over the issue. In an article she wrote for Time magazine, she said, "Though my footnotes repeatedly cited Ms. McTaggart's work, I failed to provide quotation marks for phrases that I had taken verbatim... The larger question for those of us who write history is to understand how citation mistakes can happen."[26] In its analysis of the controversy, Slate magazine criticized Goodwin for the aggrieved tone of her explanation, and suggested Goodwin's worst offense was allowing the plagiarism to remain in future editions of the book even after it was brought to her attention.[27]

Slate also reported that there were multiple passages in Goodwin's book on the Roosevelts (No Ordinary Time) that were apparently taken from Joseph Lash's Eleanor and Franklin, Hugh Gregory Gallagher's FDR's Splendid Deception, and other books, although she "scrupulously" footnoted the material. The Los Angeles Times reported similar circumstances concerning her book The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys.[28][29]

The allegations of plagiarism caused Goodwin to resign from the Pulitzer Prize Board[30] and her position as a regular guest on the PBS NewsHour program.[31]

Personal life

In 1975, Kearns married Richard N. Goodwin,[32] who had worked in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations as an adviser and speechwriter. They live in Concord, Massachusetts, and have three sons, Richard, Michael, and Joseph.[33] However, the December 15, 1975 edition of The Crimson noted that their son Richard was nine years old at the time of their wedding and claimed that Goodwin's previous wife was his mother.[34]

In her contributions to Ken Burns's award-winning documentary television series Baseball (1994), Goodwin related stories about growing up as a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. She noted that her father would have her document the baseball game from the radio and replay the events of the game once he returned home. She cited this as her first experience as a historian. She chronicles her family's love for the Dodgers until the team's move to Los Angeles in 1957. When she met her husband in the late 1960s, she became a Boston Red Sox fan, even though her father became a New York Mets fan; one of her sisters later became a Colorado Rockies fan, and her other sister stayed a Dodgers fan.



  1. ^ Who's who of Pulitzer Prize winners - Google Books. 1999. ISBN 9781573561112. Retrieved May 27, 2013. 
  2. ^ 100 Most Popular Nonfiction Authors: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies - Bernard Alger Drew - Google Books. 2008. ISBN 9781591584872. Retrieved May 27, 2013. 
  3. ^ " - Archive - News". January 5, 1998. Retrieved May 27, 2013. 
  4. ^ "About Our Fellows". Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Archived from the original on July 5, 2010. Retrieved October 27, 2008. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Dartmouth 1998 commencement address". Dartmouth College. Retrieved July 27, 2007.
  7. ^ Lyndon B. Johnson and the American Dream, "Prologue"
  8. ^ No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II (9780684804484): Doris Kearns Goodwin: Books. ASIN 0684804484. 
  9. ^ "About the Author". Doris Kearns Goodwin. Archived from the original on October 15, 2008. 
  10. ^ "Doris Kearns Goodwin (January 4, 1943 - ) - Biographer; Assistant to President Lyndon Johnson". Women's History. 
  11. ^ "Doris Kearns Goodwin: History, Baseball, and the Art of the Narrative". Smithsonian Associates. October 20, 1997. Archived from the original on April 11, 2006. 
  12. ^ Goodwin, Doris Kearns (April 22, 1997). "109th Landon Lecture". 109th Landon Lecture. Landon Lecture Series at Kansas State University. 
  13. ^ Goodwin, Doris Kearns (June 14, 1998). "Commencement address at Dartmouth College". Dartmouth News. 
  14. ^ Goodwin, Doris Kearns (Summer 1998). "Lessons of Presidential Leadership". Leader to Leader. Archived from the original on 2006-03-02. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ National Constitution Center talk at Google Videos November 2, 2005 (skip to 30 minute mark) Archived February 25, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ Address Archived March 6, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council November 15, 2005
  18. ^ City Arts and Lectures appearance Archived February 3, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. November 16, 2005
  19. ^ "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln". Books of Our Time. Retrieved February 10, 2012. 
  20. ^ Alter, Alexandra (October 28, 2011). "Stephen King's New Monster". The Wall Street Journal.
  21. ^ Hillel Italie (June 30, 2014). "Tartt, Goodwin awarded Carnegie medals". Seattle Times. Associated Press. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  22. ^ Carolyn Kellogg (February 19, 2014). "Announcing the L.A. Times Book Prize finalists for 2013". LA Times. Retrieved April 14, 2014. 
  23. ^ Stephens, Emily L. (13 October 2016). "AHS: Roanoke finds itself in a hole, keeps digging—into its past". Retrieved 14 October 2016. 
  24. ^ Crader, Bo (January 28, 2002). "A Historian and Her Sources". The Weekly Standard.
  25. ^ Lawless, Jill (March 23, 2002). "Author Says Doris Kearns Goodwin Took 'Heart and Guts' From Her Book". Associated Press.
  26. ^ Goodwin, Doris Kearns (January 27, 2002). "How I Caused That Story". Time. 
  27. ^ Noah, Timothy (28 January 2002). "How To Curb the Plagiarism Epidemic". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  28. ^ King, Peter H. (August 4, 2002). "As History Repeats Itself, the Scholar Becomes the Story". Los Angeles Times.
  29. ^ Noah, Timothy (November 13, 2003). "Historians Rewrite History: The Campaign to Exonerate Doris Kearns Goodwin". Slate. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ Lewis, Mark (February 27, 2002). "Doris Kearns Goodwin And The Credibility Gap". Forbes. Retrieved February 10, 2012. 
  32. ^ Roughier, Ray (March 15, 1995). "The Natural TV producers love Doris Kearns Goodwin, historian and baseball fan, who is right at home in front of a camera. Now Mainers will have three chances to see her in person". Portland Press Herald. p. 1C. Retrieved September 6, 2009. 
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream: The Most Revealing Portrait of a President and Presidential Power Ever Written (9780312060275): Doris Kearns Goodwin: Books. ASIN 0312060270. 
  36. ^ The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys : An American Saga: Doris Kearns Goodwin: 9780312063542: Books. ASIN 0312063547. 
  37. ^ Wait Till Next Year - A Memoir: Doris Kearns Goodwin: 9780684847955: Books. ASIN 0684847957. 
  38. ^ Every Four Years: Presidential Campaign Coverage from 1896 to 2000: Doris Kearns Goodwin: 9780965509176: Books. ASIN 0965509176. 
  39. ^ "The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism - Kindle edition by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @". 

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