Doris Kearns Goodwin on Leadership in Turbulent Times | WYPR

Doris Kearns Goodwin on Leadership in Turbulent Times

Sep 21, 2018

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin
Credit Photo by Annie Leibovitz

Tom's guest for the hour is Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

In her new book on presidential character, Leadership in Turbulent TimesGoodwin asks: Do leaders shape the times or do the times summon their leaders? Goodwin argues persuasively that while great presidents were highly ambitious and driven to succeed, they also overcame devastating personal setbacks to lead the country through the most difficult challenges our republic has ever faced.

Goodwin chronicles Lincoln’s struggles with depression and his handling of the Civil War. She explores how Theodore Roosevelt’s leadership philosophy changed after his young wife and his mother died on the same day, and how he went on to broker a settlement in a potentially crippling coal strike. She writes of Franklin Roosevelt’s struggle with polio, and his decisive moves to end the Depression and win World War II.

Goodwin’s explication of Lyndon Johnson’s unsurpassed achievements in the wake of John F. Kennedy’s assassination are informed by her working relationship with LBJ, which included a stint as a White House Fellow, and later, assisting Johnson with his memoirs. LBJ’s legislative record, particularly in the area of Civil Rights, remains unparalleled.

In Leadership in Turbulent Times, Dr. Goodwin examines what each of these men can teach us about the nature of leadership. She demonstrates with authority, acuity and grace just how important compassionate, informed, and nuanced leadership is to the vitality and future of our country. 

Dr. Goodwin will be speaking about her new book this Sunday night at the Church of the Redeemer in Baltimore. That event is sold out.