Over the years, Doris Kearns Goodwin has written some of the most popular and critically acclaimed books about U.S. politics and the complicated personalities who helped shape it. Goodwin's books, which regularly reach the top of the New York Times Bestseller list, include several biographies of U.S. presidents, including Lyndon Johnson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt. In 1985, she won the Pulitzer Prize in history for her "No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II." Two decades later, she published "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln," which served as the primary source for Steven Spielberg’s biographical motion picture on Lincoln – a film that would eventually gross $275 million at the box office. In addition to her works of presidential scholarship, Goodwin also taught for 10 years at Harvard University as a Professor of Government and published her memoir, which detailed her love for the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team while growing up in the 1950s.
Goodwin’s career as a presidential historian and author was inspired by her experiences as a student at Harvard University. Following her undergraduate years, Goodwin received a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in 1964 to pursue doctoral studies in Cambridge. During this time, she was selected to join the White House Fellows, one of America’s most prestigious programs for leadership and public service. At one of her first visits to the White House, Goodwin found herself sharing the dance floor with then-President Lyndon B. Johnson, who told her he wanted her to be assigned directly to him in the White House. The problem was that Goodwin had recently co-authored an article that called for the removal of President Johnson because of his participation in the Vietnam War. Unperturbed, the nation's leader saw rare potential in the young Harvard student and said, "Bring her down here for a year and if I can’t win her over no one can.” Later, Goodwin not only worked with Johnson in the White House during her graduate years, but also assisted him in the writing of his memoirs. In 1968, after completing her thesis, “Prayer and Reapportionment: An Analysis of the Relationship between the Congress and the Court," Goodwin received her doctorate in government from Harvard.
Later, as her career as an author and historian brought her international renown, Goodwin never forgot her scholastic roots and regularly returned to the Cambridge campus during her global book tours. More recently, in 2019, the acclaimed biographer attended a John F. Kennedy Jr. event, “Lessons in Leadership: Presidential Character and the Making of a Leader." She spoke about past U.S. presidents, noting a lesson that history can offer those who are disheartened by the current state of politics. “History gives us solace that we’ve been through these hard times before."