To submit requests for assistance, or provide feedback regarding accessibility, please contact

Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin has learned a great deal about leadership, history, and storytelling during her distinguished career.



Doris Kearns Goodwin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian and New York Times-bestselling author. She worked in the White House under President Lyndon B. Johnson, and spent years as a professor of government at Harvard. She has spent her life studying American presidents—especially Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson.

10 Inspirational Quotes From Doris Kearns Goodwin

Here’s what Doris Kearns Goodwin has to say about history, leadership, and storytelling.

1. On What History Is About:

“There’s something about history that I think everyone should love. It’s about people. It’s about conflict. … Just as we learn from our parents and our grandparents, we can learn from figures in history.”

2. On why she loves history:

“That’s what I love about history—it can really give you perspective. … It makes you feel you’re part of a continuum.”

3. On ambition:

“Ambition is absolutely essential for success in any field.”

4. On Hard Work:

“Nothing matters as much as the ability to give every effort you have to the work you’re doing.”

5. On Empathy:

“It’s the human desire in all of us to want to make life better for somebody else. It makes you feel larger. It makes you feel part of the whole human race. And if you can make that transition in even a small way, and then it becomes larger and larger, it’s something that deepens you as a person. It’s a much better source of ambition than just for self.”

6. On Collaboration:

“Most of the time, success in the world depends on collaborating with other people. And learning how to do that, learning how to listen, learning how to treat people with respect and with dignity, learning how to be humble … those are the human qualities we all need in our everyday life.”

7. On Learning Experiences:

“All of us in our lives are going to suffer difficult times. And the question is: Can you get through it? Can you grow through it? Can you learn from it? And then those adversities become learning experiences.”

8. On Adversity:

“Adversity does, I think, allow a person to grow, to feel more empathy, to feel wisdom, and more importantly, to feel perspective.”

9. On Learning:

“Do everything you can to experience other people’s lives through reading, through travel.”

10. On Storytelling:

“Telling stories is so important. … Stories keep people alive.”

Further Reading: 5 Books by Doris Kearns Goodwin

If you want to learn more about what made certain United States presidents great leaders, check out these books by Doris:

  1. Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream (1976)
  2. The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga (1991)
  3. No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front During World War II (1994)
  4. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (2005)
  5. The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism (2013)

Want to Learn More About Writing?

Become a better writer with the Masterclass Annual Membership. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by literary masters, including Doris Kearns Goodwin, Neil Gaiman, David Baldacci, Joyce Carol Oates, Dan Brown, Margaret Atwood, David Sedaris, and more.