If you’ve never read anything by Doris Kearns Goodwin you would do well to check her out. She is an historian with a PhD in government from Harvard who worked as an assistant to LBJ and who is married to a guy who served under both Kennedy and Johnson. In addition to being well schooled and having been very far inside the Washington scene, she is a great story teller.
I first learned of her when I read her memoir Wait ’til Next Year which is about her love of baseball and particularly her burning desire to see the Dodgers win a World Series. Back in the 50s baseball lovers attended the games equipped with score books that they used to record every play and nuance. Goodwin’s father gave her her first score book at the age of 6 and a baseball fanatic was born. I don’t care much about baseball but this book captivated me with its detailed and intimate descriptions of life in small town America just after WW II ended, before TV and the internet and big cars and people crazed to have the sexiest kitchen and coolest electronics.
She has also written books about Johnson, Kennedy, the Roosevelts and Lincoln. I’m not much of a history buff but I am a fan of her writing so I think I will read at least one of these books soon.
Jon Stewart recently had her on his show and he asked her if she thought this election cycle had been particularly vicious. I was heartened to hear her say that this was nothing compared to the lies and vitriol that was spread around in earlier times. She talks about how a Connecticut newspaper said that if Thomas Jefferson were elected the schools would teach rape, incest and murder. Kind of makes the California Prop 8 campaign look benign. “That’s nothing!” doesn’t generally serve to make me feel any better but in this case it did. I was reassured that all evidence to the contrary, we are living in a kinder, gentler time.