tv Doris Kearns Goodwin Leadership in Turbulent Times CSPAN June 17, 2018 2:51pm-3:01pm EDT
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top of the page. >> so best selling historian doris kerns goodwin has a new book coming out. ms. goodwin, what's your focus? >> well, it's on leadership in turbulent times. so what i've done is to take four of the guys that i knew before -- lincoln, teddy, franklin roose and lbj domestically -- and look at them through the lens of leadership so, hopefully, it can be a road map for young leaders, for established leaders about what's leadership in moments of great tush lends are, and what it was able to achieve. it gives us solace, i think, when we look back to that. >> host: end when did you start working on a book like this? >> guest: five years ago. it took even longer than i thought it would, i thought i knew my guys, but somehow i thought i was seeing them anew as young leaders, finding out when their ambition came from, how they went through adversity. and then the question, the big question is does the man fit the time or the time fit the man so that certain leadership at
certain times isn't going to work. but these guys were fitted for the moment in history. i hadn't thought about this stuff before, so it was like being in college again. >> host: you talk about them as your guys. >> guest: well, i feel like i've lived with them for so many years. i mean, it's 50 years now that i've been studying these presidents who are no longer alive. my only fear is someday there'll be a pel of them all in the afterlife, and everyone will tell me everything i missed about them. [laughter] but this was especially fun because i just hadn't thought about those kind of questions. we all think about where does our own ambition come from, how does it develop, how do you get through tough times and resilience, so these are the kinds of stories i'm trying the tell. >> host: now, what did you learn about lyndon johnson, somebody you knew personally? >> guest: well, you know, it's interesting. obviously, the war in vietnam will always be a scar on his legacy. but the more i thought about what he did in that first year after and a half when he was president, in civil rights, in voting rights, in social justice issues, the more respect i had
for his extraordinary ability not simply to deal with the congress, but to have conviction and to have a vision of where he wanted to take the country. the very first night he became president when kennedy was killed, he laid out -- he said i'm going to get medicare, voting rights, a civil rights bill. unbelievable that every single thing he said came true. >> host: what were the turbulent times for theodore roosevelt? >> guest: well, much like our own in a lot of ways because the industrial revolution had shaken up the economy much as the technological revolution has today. you had a lot of immigrants pouring in from abroad, you had a gap twoan the rich and the poor -- between the rich and the poor. it was almost a time when there was a fear of revolution. there were lot of strifes, a lot of violent reactions on labor's part, and he had to come along somehow and through the call for a square deal, you know, for the rich and the poor, the capitalist and the wage worker and new his relationship with journalists he was able to mobilize a reluctant congress to begin to deal with the problems
of the industrial era. >> host: now, we often hear from historians that, oh, well, we can't talk about fife years ago -- five years ago, we need to have more space in between. but what about the technological revolution that we're going true today? >> >> guest: well, i think it's having a huge effect not only in our politics, but on our public life especially if you think about the digital revolution, tweeting, facebook. it's taken a lot of fragmented attention as a result of it. when i think about how my guys communicated, lincoln would write speeches that would then be printed in full in the newspaper, and you'd read them alone in your country home or city park. teddy roosevelt had the punchy kind of language. fdr, the age of radio. masters it and everybody feels intimate with hum. obviously, jfk and the age of television. and now you've got an age where people aren't thinking before
they're speaking. lincoln never wanted to speak extemporaneously as president. he had to be prepared, words a matter. that's what worries me about the tech river pollution today and the fact that people are just saying things without thinking. yeah, it was tough back in the 19th century, but for the last 30, 40 years, it's as bad as i've seen it. >> host: with the advent of instant messaging and social media, etc., as a historian are you fearful about losing the long form letters and dialogue that happens? >> guest: yeah, i worry what will happen to an historian 2000 years from now -- 200 years from now. they'll see people walking, talking, but they won't have diaries and letters. people don't keep diaries like my people did. they don't write hanwritten let arers, there's nothing more exciting than looking over the shoulder of a handwritten letter and imagining that you're with that person. so they'll have more stuff, but they'll have to sort it all out.
i'm glad i went back in time. >> host: what did you learn abou abraham lincoln and ambition? >> guest: the really interesting thing is that his ambition was so fierce that even at the age of 23 when he runs for the state legislature for the first time -- which is where i start hi story. i start all of them when they run the first time, because some of them are going to lose. they'll be confused. i was at a college, and i was talking about presidents, and he said but i can never imagine being one of them. so i figured if i start when these guys start themselves, abraham lincoln that very first time said he had a peculiar ambition, that his ambition was to somehow win the esteem of his fellow man. he was thinking in those terms each then. then he said i may lose this election, but i think i'll try five or six times, and then maybe i'll be disgraced. he does lose the election, he tries again, he wins. he loses more elections, goes forward. it's an extraordinary story of resilience. >> host: can these guys, were
they able to see around corners or think in patterns a little bit more than maybe you or i? >> guest: that's an interesting question. the interesting thing is for teddy roosevelt are, for example, he was able to think about where he wanted his whole career to go. so did fdr, they thought ahead. but then teddy lost his wife and mother on the same day in the same house and went into a depression, goes to the badlands. from then on he decided i'm not going to look ahead at what the next title is i want to reach. i'm just going to take whatever job can make me feel worthy at the time. so against his friends' advice, he becomes chief of police, civil service director, then governor, but that winding path taught him a lot of kinds of leadership skills which i think made him much more comfortable. >> host: now, the new book, "leadership in turbulent times," comes out in september of this year with. she'll be at the national book festival the first weekend in the september. booktv will be live with
historian goodwin at that. what have you learned personally about turbulent times from these guys that maybe you've applied in your own life? >> guest: well, you know, i think what the thing is, is turbulent times create the opportunity for great leadership, but it also could create the opportunity for failure. i mean, obviously, the depression with hoover, he wasn't able to mobilize the country in the way fdr was. buchanan was president during the beginnings of the break-apart of the south and the north, but he aunt able to deal with it -- wasn't able to deal witht the way lincoln did. those times make it more possible like abigail adams said, great necessities create great virtues. so there's something about if there's a war or depression, you can mobilize the country. but you can also, unless you have the fit -- i learned that you have to be fitted percent time, and each one of my people were actually fitted for the
time. they might not have been a leader as great in another time. but the time -- think of fdr, for example. somebody who'd gone through polio, who'd been at warm springs, who had learned that contagious optimism can help his fellow victims becomes president at a time when the people need that confidence and that optimism. perfect timing for him. ..