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Doris Kearns Goodwin

Pulitzer Prize for History

He so wanted more people to go through the Johnson Library than were going through the Kennedy Library in Boston that, after a while, he used to have them -- free doughnuts, coffee, anything to get them in there. And after a while the librarians -- knowing how much it mattered to him -- used to have a clicker. So they would click themselves in and out over and over again, just to give him an escalated count at the end of the week. So I think the experience taught me, more than anything, that if your ambition comes at the price of such an unbalanced life, that there's nothing else that gives you comfort but success, it's not worth it. And to see that at 23 years old was an incredibly invaluable lesson to me, because I think at that time, you think work is the most important thing in your life, and fame and success are what you're dreaming of. Yet to be able to know that if it's bought at that high a price, as I said, it's not worth it. I will always be grateful for that lesson.
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Doris Kearns Goodwin

Pulitzer Prize for History

Doris Kearns Goodwin: I'd like to think that what my style of writing is, is an attempt not so much to judge the characters that I'm writing about, to expose them, to label them, to stereotype them, but instead to make them come alive for the reader with all their strengths and their flaws intact. So there's not a way in which, when I start the book, I say, "I'm going to make Franklin great," or "I'm going to get Franklin Roosevelt." But rather, "I want to render him as he lived, day by day."
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Doris Kearns Goodwin

Pulitzer Prize for History

I tried to ground every issue in a day's experience, so that the reader could feel what it was like to be Franklin and Eleanor at that time. This means that if they made mistakes, you could at least understand why they did. If they did something admirable, you could feel it with them. So your emotions would go on a roller coaster as you were reading the book. At times you would feel great about Franklin, at other times you would be mad at Eleanor, and vice-versa. It is not a question of coming at it from the start as if I'm out to get them, or out to praise them. I just want them to come alive again. That's all you really ask of history. Then the reader can feel, with all the complexity of emotions, what it is that is happening to them. I would like to think that is what the Pulitzer Prize people recognized, was that desire to make them come alive without an agenda, to try and push them into a labeled stereotype.
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Doris Kearns Goodwin

Pulitzer Prize for History

I was working for Lyndon Johnson. I was still teaching at Harvard, or a graduate student at Harvard, and I thought, "Oh, I can worry about marriage and play later. Work is what really matters." It was only the experience of watching Lyndon Johnson, as I said earlier, that taught me that he hadn't the play part of his life, he didn't have the love part of his life, and that the balancing was really important. I think what I learned, more than anything, was that you can't have it all balanced perfectly at any one time. When I was young, it was much more balanced toward work. When I had my children, it was much more balanced toward love and family, and I didn't get a lot of work done. But you have lots of time left. My youngest is about to go to college. So I'll have a lot more time than I had before, and I'll be able to do more work than I did before. So you can't ask of it to be perfectly balanced at any time, but your hope is, before you die, you've somehow had each of those spheres come to life.
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Doris Kearns Goodwin

Pulitzer Prize for History

You don't sort of imagine what somebody might have thought at a certain moment. Some writers feel like it's okay to just sort of go in the heads of their subjects and make it up. I feel that unless you can document and be certain about what it is that you're writing about, the reader is going to lose faith in your own integrity. So I try to make it come alive as much as possible by endless research, so I know what the room looked like when the person was in there. If somebody interviewed a person, or a diary entry said what they said at a meeting, I can record that. I think my integrity depends upon not stretching over that line that separates non-fiction from fiction, as too many non-fiction writers are doing nowadays. They make it seem like a novel, rather than actual non-fiction.
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Mikhail Gorbachev

Nobel Prize for Peace

A student in Japan once asked me, "President, democracy is all very well. You were elected; you introduced free elections and everything, but at the next election you might not be elected and you will lose." I told her, "But you see, even then I will not lose, because there will have been free elections and that is the result of what I have been trying to achieve." I said, "If I win a free election then I will have a double victory. If I lose then there will only be one victory, but democracy will exist and that is the main thing." For this reason, when they ask me nowadays how I feel, after all that has happened, I say, "Of course it did turn out that the very moment we were supposed to go further in reforming the Soviet Union, the Party and the economy, perestroika was interrupted, but what it accomplished, and what processes and tendencies it laid down -- that is an enormous victory.
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Nadine Gordimer

Nobel Prize in Literature

Albert Camus, who is one of the great writers that did mean a tremendous amount to me and still do -- unfortunately dead as you know -- he said, and this is engraved somewhere in me, "The day that I am no more than a writer, I shall no longer write." Because you can't just live in an ivory tower. This doesn't mean to say that you write propaganda. That's a task for people directly in politics. And indeed, for a writer to begin to be a propagandist is the death of the talent that that writer has. But you are not only a writer, you are also a human being living among your fellow human beings in your society, in your country. You're enclosed by the laws of that country. You're enclosed by the morals and attitudes of the people around you. You have to be in relation to that as well, take your responsibility of being a human being in a human society.
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