Doris Kearns Goodwin on Lincoln and Obama

0743270754.01._MZZZZZZZ_ With Barack Obama being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States today, and his fierce rival for the nomination, Hillary Clinton, having her confirmation hearings to become his Secretary of State last week--and with the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln coming up next month--it seemed like a good time to talk to Doris Kearns Goodwin, whose big Lincoln book, Team of Rivals, was published in 2005 but has become even more talked about since. We spoke to her by phone last Wednesday, just before she headed to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration and for a live Oprah show tomorrow. I was hardly the first to ask her about the Lincoln-Obama connection, but ask I did, as well as bringing in FDR, Darwin, and her next subject, Teddy Roosevelt. (And I had to ask whether she remembered her last visit to our offices, when Team of Rivals came out, which resulted in this favorite photo. It turns out that she's been telling that story as much as we have ever since--although she has not gotten her own tattoo.)

Here's our interview, in both podcast and, after the jump, full transcript formats: I'm used to talking to people whose books have just come out. But obviously, Team of Rivals came out in 2005, but we're still talking about it today. Did you have any idea that it would have that kind of staying power?

Goodwin: No, there was no way of knowing. I mean, people have teased me when I wrote the book, was I thinking that Obama was going to like Abraham Lincoln, and be similar to him in some ways. But at the time when I wrote the book, which was 10 years before it was published, he wasn't even on the national horizon. So it's been a wonderful coincidence of a president-elect who really seems to have taken Lincoln to heart and has read this book and really, hopefully, has learned from it.

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Comments (5)

It's definitely a book worth reading.

Posted by: how to create a website | Friday December 28, 2012 at 9:56 AM

The latest Lincoln movie was amazing. Kids these days don't know much about him.

Posted by: McAllen Tx | Friday December 28, 2012 at 9:53 AM

Perhaps there's a thing as time and life repeating itself. I have a 100 year old book about Lincoln's life. It's amazing that problems that occured back then are still dogging us today.

Posted by: Carlo | Tuesday December 6, 2011 at 8:15 PM

Goodwin, i like your book. "Obama was going to like Abraham Lincoln", you are right, i agree.

Posted by: acai berry | Monday March 15, 2010 at 11:36 PM

It's only the appointment of Hillary Clinton that makes Obama's Cabinet 'Team of Rivals'. Beyond Hillary,Obama,s Cabinet would be far different from Lincoln in many ways.The book, Obama's election and the appointment of Hillary as Secretary of State are coincidence which only would unify America after the much perceived incapabilities of Bush Administration.

Posted by: Michael Nwagbegbe | Sunday January 25, 2009 at 11:27 AM

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