Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin (born January 4, 1943 in Brooklyn, New York) is an award-winning American author and historian. She won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1995.

Early life and education

Kearns was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in Rockville Centre, New York. She received her B.A. degree from Colby College, Maine in 1964. She later earned a Ph.D. in government from Harvard University.

Career and Awards

Doris Kearns won a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in 1964. Goodwin went to Washington, D.C., as a White House Fellow in 1967 during the Johnson administration, working as his assistant. After Johnson left office, she assisted the President in drafting his memoirs.

After LBJ's retirement in 1969, Goodwin taught government at Harvard for ten years, including a course on the American Presidency.

In 1977, her first book was published Lyndon Johnson & the American Dream, drawing on her conversations with the late president. This book 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' 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.

Goodwin won the 2005 Lincoln Prize (for best book about the American Civil War) for Team of Rivals, a book about Abraham Lincoln's Presidential Cabinet. She is currently 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.

Claims of plagiarism

The January 18, 2002, issue of The Weekly Standard made a case for Doris Kearns Goodwin as a plagiarist, arguing that her 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.

In a March 24, 2002, interview with the Associated Press, McTaggart said, "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."

Once this was made public — and the almost identical phrases in Goodwin’s book were placed in numerous newspaper and magazine articles side by side with the originals in question — Goodwin admitted that she had previously reached a large "private settlement" with McTaggart over the issue.

An August 2002 Los Angeles Times story by Peter King 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" and Hugh Gregory Gallagher’s "FDR’s Splendid Deception," as well as other books. (See Timothy Noah, "Historians Rewrite History: The Campaign to Exonerate Doris Kearns Goodwin," Slate online, Nov. 13, 2003.) The claims of plagiarism have damaged her reputation; however, many in the academic, literary, and entertainment communities have continued to support her and her assertion of innocence. As in the case of Stephen Ambrose, the extensive use of research assistants has been identified as a possible source of this uncredited use of other writers' work.

Personal life

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. As of 2007, the Goodwins live in Concord, Massachusetts.

Goodwin revealed in her contributions to Ken Burns' award-winning documentary film Baseball her life-long support of both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox.


  • Lyndon Johnson & the American Dream (1977)
  • The Fitzgeralds & The Kennedys (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."
  • "I just want them to come alive again. That's all you really ask of history."
  • (After the ball to celebrate the selection of the White House fellows in 1967) "…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.


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