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Queens students take a lesson from Pulitzer Prize winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Kearns GoodwinPulitzer Prize winning historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin

Historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin captivated an audience of students during a special daytime lecture before her Learning Society event at Queens.

She spoke about developing a love of history from her father during her childhood in Brooklyn where she was steeped in love for the Dodgers.  Later, as a 24-year-old White House intern, she learned from President Lyndon B. Johnson, whom she calls a master storyteller.

At the special student lecture, she drew from the research she did while writing her bestselling books. She plucked out juicy bits of history that showed that while Abraham Lincoln suffered from depression his passion for doing good deeds and staying connected with the common man propelled him to become one of history's greatest leaders.

"My father was rabid in his love for baseball and with that came a long, precise knowledge of baseball history," she said. "I am grateful now for his role in helping me to develop this curious love of history."

An undergraduate student asked about the context of time and how it affects how we view leaders.

Kearns Goodwin said that crises allow leaders to mobilize the country's spirit, but true leaders also project their personalities on the times. She cited Ronald Reagan and Teddy Roosevelt as examples of men who drew on their own strengths to leave powerful legacies.She also spoke of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and how his character changed after he developed polio.

"He had led a privileged life up until then, having everything given to him, but after he got sick he became humble," she said. "So when the Great Depression came and the people were on their backs he was able to connect on a different level."

Kearns Goodwin, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is now working on a booked called "Broken Friendship" about the relationship between Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

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