Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin
Doris Kearns Goodwin
Born Doris Helen Kearns
January 4, 1943 (1943-01-04) (age 68)
Brooklyn, New York
Nationality American
Education Colby College (B.A)
Harvard University (PhD)
Known for Historian, author, political commentator
Spouse Richard N. Goodwin
Children Richard, Michael and Joseph Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin (born Doris Helen Kearns; 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, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.



Early life and education

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[1] 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 Johnson offered the young intern a job as his assistant, an offer that was not withdrawn even after an article by Kearns appeared in The New Republic laying out a scenario for Johnson's removal from office over his conduct of the war in Vietnam.[2]

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.[3][4][5][6][7][8] 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.[9][10][11][12] The book also won the inaugural American History Book Prize given by the New-York Historical Society.

Since 1997 Goodwin has been a member of the board of directors for Northwest Airlines.[13]

Goodwin is currently working on her next book which will be about Theodore Roosevelt, focusing on his relationship with William Howard Taft, the election of 1912 and the muckraking journalism of the Progressive era.

Plagiarism controversy

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.[14]

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."[15] 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.[16]

Slate magazine also reported that there were multiple 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. Furthermore, the Los Angeles Times reported similar circumstances concerning her book "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys."[17][18] The allegations of plagiarism have caused her to take leave of her position as a guest on PBS NewsHour.[19]

Personal life

In 1975, Kearns married Richard N. Goodwin,[20] who had worked in the Johnson and Kennedy administration as an adviser and a speechwriter. They have three sons, Richard, Michael and Joseph. Richard's latest short film, "For Rent" earned a Coup De Coeur distinction at the Cannes Short Film Corner, where it screened in May 2011. [21] Michael, a high-school social studies teacher, is the founder of Rivers and Revolutions, a tuition-free interdisciplinary summer program designed to teach highschool students the relationship between literature, history, science, mathematics, philosophy, and the arts.[22] Michael is currently pursuing a Masters of Education at Harvard University. On September 12, 2001, Joseph joined the U.S. Army. For his service in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, he was awarded the Bronze Star.[23] He is currently in law school.[24]

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 and her family's love for the Dodgers until the team's fateful move to Los Angeles in 1957. When she met her husband in the late 60s, she became a Red Sox fan even though her dad became a Mets fan, one of her sisters later became a Rockies fan, and her other sister stayed a Dodgers fan.

Popular Culture

Goodwin is part of a recurring gag on The Colbert Report where Stephen Colbert apologizes to Goodwin for lewd or inappropriate subject matter Colbert is connecting to some other person that he once, apparently, also connected with or asked of Goodwin e.g. inadvertently sending Goodwin a photo of himself when he "replied all" on an e-mail that included a photo of himself in a crotchless iron man suit.[25]


  • Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream (1977)
  • The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga (1987)
  • No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The American Homefront During World War II (1995)
  • Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir (1997)
  • Every Four Years: Presidential Campaign Coverage (2000) ISBN 0-9655091-7-6
  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (2005) ISBN 0-684-82490-6


  • "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."[26]
  • "I just want them to come alive again. That's all you really ask of history."[27]


  1. ^ "About Our Fellows". Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Retrieved 2008-10-27. [dead link]
  2. ^ "...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'." Dartmouth 1998 commencement address (accessdate=2007-07-27)
  3. ^ "About the Author". Doris Kearns Goodwin. 
  4. ^ "Doris Kearns Goodwin (January 4, 1943 - ) - Biographer; Assistant to President Lyndon Johnson". Women's History. Retrieved \. 
  5. ^ "Doris Kearns Goodwin: History, Baseball, and the Art of the Narrative". Smithsonian Associates. October 20, 1997. 
  6. ^ Goodwin, Doris Kearns (April 22, 1997). "109th Landon Lecture". 109th Landon Lecture. Landon Lecture Series at Kansas State University. 
  7. ^ Goodwin, Doris Kearns (June 14, 1998). "Commencement address at Dartmouth College". Dartmouth News. 
  8. ^ Goodwin, Doris Kearns (Summer 1998). "Lessons of Presidential Leadership". Leader to Leader. Archived from the original on 2006-03-02. 
  9. ^ National Constitution Center talk at Google Videos (Adobe Flash video) November 2, 2005 (skip to 30 minute mark)
  10. ^ Address to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council November 15, 2005
  11. ^ City Arts and Lectures appearance November 16, 2005
  12. ^ Goodwin discusses Team of Rivals
  13. ^ Northwest Airlines- Board of Directors, Biography
  14. ^ Bo Crader, "A Historian and Her Sources," The Weekly Standard, January 28, 2002
  15. ^ Jill Lawless, "Author Says Doris Kearns Goodwin Took 'Heart and Guts' From Her Book," Associated Press, March 23, 2002.
  16. ^ Goodwin, Doris Kearns (January 27, 2002). "How I Caused That Story". Time.,8599,197614,00.html. 
  17. ^ Peter H. King, "As History Repeats Itself, the Scholar Becomes the Story," Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2002.
  18. ^ Noah, Timothy (November 13, 2003). "Historians Rewrite History: The Campaign to Exonerate Doris Kearns Goodwin". Slate. 
  19. ^ Doris Kearns Goodwin And The Credibility Gap
  20. ^ 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 2009-09-06. 
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Afghanistan's Other Front". The New York Times. September 16, 2009. 
  24. ^ Clemetson, Lynette "Threats and Responses: in Uniform; To Child of Vietnam War Dissenters, Recent Call to Arms Rang True." The New York Times. February 18, 2003. January 19, 2010.
  25. ^
  26. ^ [1] Academy of Achievement June 1996 interview, p.1
  27. ^ [2] Academy of Achievement June 1996 interview, p.6

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