Lessons from past presidents with Doris Kearns Goodwin

"It may seem odd spending one's nights with dead presidents, but I wouldn't have it any other way," said Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Doris Kearns Goodwin
Goodwin is the author of biographies of several U.S. presidents. She took time for a book signing after her presentation at the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on Oct. 2.

Goodwin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American biographer, historian and political commentator, spoke to a large crowd at UNI's Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on Oct. 2 about her book, "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" – a book that inspired Steven Spielberg's film "Lincoln." She was invited to campus as part of the Joy Cole Corning Distinguished Leadership Lecture Series.

Goodwin mentioned in her presentation that there are more than 14,000 books written about Abraham Lincoln. Her book discusses Lincoln's leadership style, how he persuaded former rivals to join his cabinet, and even gives the reader a peek at Lincoln's sense of humor.

She also talked about her time at the White House as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and how she assisted Lyndon B. Johnson in drafting his memoirs. She shared stories from her research of Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and talked about her passion for baseball – her favorite teams being the former Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Red Sox.

Before her formal presentation, Goodwin met with UNI students earlier in the day for a Q&A session. Students asked her everything from what it was like having her book turned into a movie to what advice she could give teachers on how to engage students in learning about the past.

"For history, I believe at it's best, is about telling stories," said Goodwin.

Goodwin just finished her next book, "The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism," which is scheduled to come out in early November.