I have a confession to make. I am a huge fan of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s books. Yes, I say this despite the plagiarism scandal and her recent performance at the Gettysburg 150 commemoration this past July. I do not subscribe to the “three strikes” rule.
Goodwin tells exciting stories about our most important political leaders and the times in which they lived. Occasionally, you can sense a whiggish streak running through the narrative, but it’s rarely overbearing and rarely evolves into full-blown sentimentality. [That happens more often than not during interviews.] She is one of the few popular writers who has the ability to remind the country that its collective memory extends beyond the past few weeks.
I don’t know anyone else right now who could sell me on a 750 page story about Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Teddy has always fascinated me, but I’ve never given a second thought to Taft. After listening to a couple of interviews over the past few weeks, however, I decided to purchase a copy with an Amazon certificate. I haven’t been able to put it down since it arrived on Wednesday. Goodwin is extremely enthusiastic about her subjects. Of course, she wants to sell books, but she also wants Americans to embrace these stories as well. History has a way of tempering our sense of self importance and the conviction that we are living in exceptional times.
It’s not a book that I want to read on a tablet. I want to feel its size. It should weigh you down just a little if you are taking it with you out of the house. Regardless of how you read it there is something satisfying in knowing that you are taking part in a larger conversation or – dare I say – collective remembering.
Finally, I can’t help but admire the discipline that goes into one of these books. Goodwin may not be digging through mountains of archival papers for her tomes, but careful thought has clearly gone into the construction of the narrative itself and this almost always results in a fresh perspective. In short, DKG leaves me with that childish excitement that I felt when I first discovered a love for history. That may sound corny to you, but I assure you that such a skill is in short supply these days.
I could write more, but I want to get back to my book.