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Doris Kearns Goodwin Quotes

Doris Kearns Goodwin (1943-)

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Doris Kearns Goodwin is a biographer and historian. She won a Pulitzer Prize for her biography of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Selected Doris Kearns Goodwin Quotations

• The past is not simply the past, but a prism through which the subject filters his own changing self-image.

• 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.

• Once a president gets to the White House, the only audience that is left that really matters is history.

• I realize that to be a historian is to discover the facts in context, to discover what things mean, to lay before the reader your reconstruction of time, place, mood, to empathize even when you disagree. You read all the relevant material, you synthesize all the books, you speak to all the people you can, and then you write down what you known about the period. You feel you own it.

• And as for the final sphere of love and friendship, I can only say it gets harder once the natural communities of college and home town are gone. It takes work and commitment, demands toleration for human frailties, forgiveness for the inevitable disappointment and betrayals that come even with the best of relationships.

• Generally, what gives me the most pleasure really is sharing with the audience some of the experiences and the stories of more than two decades now spent in writing this series of presidential biographies. In being able to talk about how you do it, what the experience is in interviewing people and talking to people who knew the people and going through the letters and sifting it through. Essentially just telling your favorite stories of the various people.... The great thing is that as you accumulate more and more subjects, there are more and more great stories to share. I think what the audience likes to hear are some of the stories that reveal character and the human traits of some of these figures who might otherwise seem distant to them.

• [On Lyndon Johnson:] So dominant had politics been, constricting his horizon in every sphere, that once the realm of high power was taken from him, he was drained of all vitality. Years of concentration solely on work meant that in his retirement he could find no solace in recreation, sports or hobbies. As his spirits sagged, his body deteriorated, until I believe he slowly brought about his own death.

• [About her book, Team of Rivals]: I thought, at first, that I would focus on Abraham Lincoln and Mary as I did on Franklin and Eleanor; but, I found that during the war, Lincoln was married more to the colleagues in his cabinet -- in terms of time he spent with them and the emotion shared -- than he was to Mary.

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About These Quotes

Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. Each quotation page in this collection and the entire collection © Jone Johnson Lewis 1997-2009. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not be able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.

Citation information:
Jone Johnson Lewis. "Doris Kearns Goodwin Quotes." About Women's History. URL: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/quotes/a/dk_goodwin.htm . Date accessed: (today). (More on how to cite online sources including this page)

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