Doris Helen Kearns Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Doris Kearns Goodwin (born Doris Helen Kearns) is an American political historian noted for three award-winning studies on presidential lives (Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson) and a best-selling autobiographical account of her growing up in Long Island, amid the social changes of the 1950’s, as an avid fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers. She has also written numerous articles on politics and baseball for major news publications and served as a commentator or panelist for national television news programs. Her reputation, however, became tarnished early in 2002 amid substantiated charges that portions of her work The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys were plagiarized from several other sources.{$S[A]Kearns Goodwin, Doris;Goodwin, Doris Kearns}

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s parents, both native Brooklynites, moved to Rockville Centre, Long Island, shortly before she was born. Her father, a bank examiner for the state of New York, instilled in her a lifelong love of baseball and preoccupation with the successes and failures of the Brooklyn Dodgers. As Goodwin relates, her life was governed by the dual calendars of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Catholic Church. Because of her team’s repeated failure to win a championship, “Wait till next year” became a recurring anthem of her early years of devotion to the much-worshipped “Brooklyn Bums.” Doris’s mother was an avid book reader and took great pride in her role as a housewife. She was thirty-five when Doris was born, and she remained sickly from circulatory problems throughout her daughter’s early life. Goodwin lost her mother shortly after turning fifteen and had to cope with her father’s drowning his grief in alcohol.

Goodwin’s early years are revealed in great detail in Wait Till Next Year. Hers was a life preoccupied with the successes of Dodger greats Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella, filled with fear of polio and nuclear holocaust, puzzled by McCarthyism and the execution of the Rosenbergs, and challenged by nontraditional media stars such as James Dean and Elvis Presley and controversial films like Blackboard Jungle (which she was forbidden to see). She was also impacted by her favorite teacher, Miss Austin, who taught civics and was able to re-create major historical moments (such as the death of Franklin Roosevelt) by using both emotion and...

(The entire section is 974 words.)