Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Goodwin

1995 Pulitzer Prize winner in history

Doris Kearns was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in Rockville Center, Long Island. Her invalid mother encouraged her love of books, while her father shared her love of baseball; she traces her interest in history to her childhood experience recording the fortunes of the Brooklyn Dodgers. She received her B.A. from Colby College, Maine, graduating magna cum laude. While in college, she undertook summer internships at the U.S. Congress and the State Department. She won a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and earned a Ph.D. in Government at Harvard University.

She was serving as a White House Fellow in 1967, when her opposition to President Johnson's foreign policy led her to co-author an article for The New Republic entitled "How to Remove LBJ in 1968." Only a few months later, she became a special assistant to President Johnson in the White House. The President apparently believed that having a White House Fellow who was critical of the administration would prove he did not feel threatened by the growing anti-war sentiment in America.

After President Johnson's retirement in 1969, Doris Kearns began a decade's work as a Professor of Government at Harvard, where she taught a course on the American Presidency. On weekends, holidays and vacations she traveled to Johnson's ranch in Texas, to assist the ex-president in the preparation of his memoir, The Vantage Point (1971).

President Johnson died in January, 1973. In 1975, Doris Kearns married Richard Goodwin, who had been an advisor and speechwriter to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and to Sen. Robert Kennedy. In 1977, Doris Kearns Goodwin published her first book, Lyndon Johnson & the American Dream, drawing on her own conversations with the late president. It became a New York Times bestseller and Book of The Month Club selection. With her husband's assistance, she began research in the Kennedy family archives in Hyannisport. The result was The Fitzgeralds & The Kennedys (1987), a New York Times bestseller for five months. In 1990, it was made into a six hour miniseries for ABC Television.

Her next success was, No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The American Homefront During World War II which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1995. Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir was published in 1997. Her tale of growing up in the 1950's and her love of the Brooklyn Dodgers became a New York Times bestseller and Book of the Month Club selection.

Her 2005 book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, recounts President Lincoln's complex relations with the strong personalities he brought into his wartime cabinet. A national besteseller, it won the prestigious Lincoln Prize and the inaugural Book Prize for American History. Steven Spielberg has acquired motion picture rights to the book and plans to star Liam Neeson as President Lincoln. In addition to her books, Ms. Goodwin has written numerous articles on politics and baseball for leading national publications. She is a regular panelist on Public Television's The News Hour with Jim Lehrer and a frequent commentator on NBC and MSNBC. She has been consultant and on-air person for PBS documentaries on LBJ, the Kennedy family, Franklin Roosevelt and Ken Burns's History of Baseball. She is also the first woman ever to enter the Red Sox locker room. Doris and Richard Goodwin have three sons. They make their home in Concord, Massachusetts.

Doris Kearns Goodwin
Landon Lecture
April 22, 1997