Doris Kearns Goodwin charmed a packed house in Portland as she discussed in rich detail "my guys," the Presidents she has written about in a series of bestselling and award-winning books.Doris Kearns Goodwin charmed a packed house this week as she talked about "my guys," the Presidents whom she has chronicled in her bestselling books, including Team of Rivals, the basis for the awarding-winning movie Lincoln. She received a standing ovation when she finished.
Goodwin's lecture in Portland was part of the Oregon Historical Society's Mark O. Hatfield Distinguished Historians Forum. CFM Strategic Communications was a sponsor of the event.
Kerry Tymchuk, director of the Oregon Historical Society, said Goodwin spent time with Pete Mark, whose personal collection of Lincoln artifacts, including a signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, is on display at OHS.
Goodwin framed her lecture about presidential leadership using rich examples from Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. Common traits she identified included their ability to overcome failures or setbacks, to accept criticism and to see hope where others saw gloom. Goodwin told the story of Teddy Roosevelt jumping on a platform and cheerfully applauding passersby who carried placards and yelled epithets about him, earning tips of hats by his detractors and a newspaper headline, "He Cheered Those Who Jeered."
After her lecture, Goodwin engaged in an onstage conversation with Tymchuk that revealed more about her own background. She told how she was groomed as a young girl for a career as a historian by maintaining a meticulous, detailed scorebook of Brooklyn Dodgers baseball games on the radio so her dad could find out what happened when he came home from work.
Goodwin also related how she and her husband were invited to the White House by Bill and Hillary Clinton after Goodwin expressed an interest in seeing where a passel of colorful figures, including Winston Churchill, stayed during FDR's time.
Appropriately, Goodwin was assigned the bedroom where Churchill stayed and she pinpointed the spot where the British wartime prime minister emerged from his bathroom fresh from a bath and fully naked to see a startled FDR waiting to talk to him. As FDR started to leave, Churchill said, "The British Prime Minister has nothing to hide from the President of the United States."
Goodwin's books and lectures have attracted a wide audience because of her ability to make history interesting and to describe major historical figures in a human scale.