"The past is not simply the past, but a prism through which the subject filters his own changing self-image." -- Doris Kearns Goodwin
Doris Kearns Goodwin (born Doris Helen Kearns on January 4, 1943) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American biographer and historian, and an oft-seen political commentator. She is the author of biographies of several U.S. Presidents, including Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream; The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga; No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt (which won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1995); and her most recent book, The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.
"Once a president gets to the White House, the only audience that is left that really matters is history.""That is what leadership is all about: staking your ground ahead of where opinion is and convincing people, not simply following the popular opinion of the moment.""Where's the progress that we're going to see in Afghanistan? You have to keep public support both on the economy and the war or these things will really become troubling."
Doris Kearns was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in Rockville Centre, New York. She attended Colby College in Maine, where she was a member of Tri Delta and Phi Beta Kappa and graduated magna cum laude in 1964 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in 1964 to pursue doctoral studies. In 1968 she earned a Ph.D. in government from Harvard University, with a thesis entitled "Prayer and reapportionment: an analysis of the relationship between the congress and the court."
Career and awards
In 1967, Kearns went to Washington, D.C., as a White House Fellow during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. Johnson offered the young intern a job as his assistant, an offer that was not withdrawn even after an article by Kearns appeared in The New Republic laying out a scenario for Johnson's removal from office over his conduct of the war in Vietnam.
After Johnson left office in 1969, Kearns taught government at Harvard for ten 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. It became a New York Times bestseller and provided a launching pad for her literary career.
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 Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The American Homefront During World War II.
Goodwin received an honorary L.H.D. from Bates College in 1998. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from Westfield State College in 2008.
Goodwin won the 2005 Lincoln Prize, awarded for the best book about the American Civil War, for Team of Rivals, a book about Abraham Lincoln's presidential cabinet. She is a member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission advisory board.
Since 1997 Goodwin has been a member of the board of directors for Northwest Airlines. Northwest Airlines- Board of Directors, Biography
In 2002, The Weekly Standard demonstrated that Doris Kearns Goodwin's book, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, used without attribution numerous phrases and sentences from three other books: Time to Remember, by Rose Kennedy; The Lost Prince, by Hank Searl; and Kathleen Kennedy: Her Life and Times, by Lynne McTaggart.
McTaggart weighed in, "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." Goodwin admitted that she had previously reached a large "private settlement" with McTaggart over the issue. She wrote in Time:
Fourteen years ago, not long after the publication of my book The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, I received a communication from author Lynne McTaggart pointing out that material from her book on Kathleen Kennedy had not been properly attributed. I realized that she was right. Though my footnotes repeatedly cited Ms. McTaggart's work, I failed to provide quotation marks for phrases that I had taken verbatim, having assumed that these phrases, drawn from my notes, were my words, not hers. I made the corrections she requested, and the matter was completely laid to rest...until last week, when the Weekly Standard published an article reviving the issue. The larger question for those of us who write history is to understand how citation mistakes can happen.
The Los Angeles Times also reported that there were many passages in Goodwin’s book on the Roosevelts (No Ordinary Time) that were apparently lifted directly from Joseph Lash’s Eleanor and Franklin, Hugh Gregory Gallagher’s FDR’s Splendid Deception, and other books. The allegations of plagiarism have damaged her reputation, causing her to recall the book and to take leave of various positions.
Many in the academic, literary, and entertainment communities have continued to support her and her assertion of innocence.
In 1975, Kearns married Richard N. Goodwin, who had worked in the Johnson and Kennedy administration as an adviser and a speechwriter. They have three sons, Richard, Michael and Joseph. Joseph is heading to Iraq for a second tour of duty, while her son Michael is a high-school social studies teacher.
The Goodwins live in Concord, Massachusetts.
Goodwin related in her contributions to Ken Burns' award-winning documentary film Baseball stories about her father and herself being Brooklyn Dodger fans. She noted that her father would have her document the baseball game from the radio and replay the events of the game once her father returned home. She cited this as her first experience as a historian. She chronicles her love for the Dodgers until the team's fateful move to Los Angeles in 1957, and later becoming a Red Sox fan in the late 60s while her dad became a Mets fan.
"I got to know this crazy character [Lyndon B. Johnson] when I was only 23 years old.... He's still the most formidable, fascinating, frustrating, irritating individual I think I've ever known in my entire life."
"I just want them to come alive again. That's all you really ask of history."