Goodwin's new book champions 'Bully Pulpit'
In this Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 photo author Doris Kearns Goodwin stands near a bookshelf for a portrait at her home in Concord, Mass. Goodwin's latest book,"The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism," will be released on Nov. 5. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
CONCORD, Mass. (AP) — History for Doris Kearns Goodwin begins at home, in this timeless New England town where Emerson and Thoreau once lived and wrote and in the century-old house that she shares with her husband, former presidential speech writer Richard Goodwin.
The Goodwin house is a virtual museum of the personal and scholarly past, from the photographs of various Kennedys and of a grinning Barack Obama to the many rooms named for the books they contain. A large space in the back is dedicated to fiction, while a smaller area by the kitchen belongs to sports. Alphabetical shelvings of presidential works lead to an especially well stocked library, its dark, paneled walls and leather chairs giving it the look of a private club in which men would smoke cigars and debate the issues of the day.
Goodwin, 70, ranks with David McCullough and Robert Caro as among the most famous living historians. She is a million-selling author, popular speaker and familiar television commentator, known to millions for her reddish hair and wide smile. A former aide to Lyndon Johnson and an acknowledged influence on the staffing of the Obama administration, she has witnessed, written about and helped make presidential history.
Her "Team of Rivals," published eight years ago, was such an ongoing phenomenon that a countdown clock on Goodwin's Web site has ticked off the seconds until her new book's publication. "The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism" is more than 900 pages and fulfills her longtime dream of writing about the Progressive era, the years in the early 20th century when "muckraking" journalists routinely exposed injustice and landmark legislation was signed on everything from food safety to tariffs to railroad regulation.
"It's always been my favorite era," says Goodwin, interviewed in her library on a warm fall afternoon. "There was something about reform being in the air, the excitement of it."
In this Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 photo author Doris Kearns Goodwin poses for a portrait outside at her home in Concord, Mass. Goodwin's latest book,"The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism," will be released on Nov. 5. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Goodwin began with the idea of writing about Roosevelt — "someone I want to live with" — a challenge when the president was so well captured in Edmund Morris' prize-winning trilogy. Roosevelt's close relationship to Ida Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens and other investigative reporters convinced her to add their stories. Taft, Roosevelt's designated and unfortunate choice to follow him in the White House, was the final piece.