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Doris Kearns Goodwin

Pulitzer Prize for History

Then, once they get into the presidency and he (FDR) becomes paralyzed by polio, she (Eleanor) becomes in many ways his eyes and his ears. Without her, his presidency never would have been as rich as it was. She traveled the country on his behalf, bringing him back a deep sense of what was happening in the land. She was much more active on civil rights, on poverty, on coal miners than he was, and really made his presidency more socially just than it would have been. He would be the first to admit that she made him stronger. And then she admitted, at the end of his life, that without him she would not have had the platform to be Eleanor Roosevelt. So just knowing how you can go through very difficult times in your own married life and still form this extraordinary partnership, I think, is what I took away from that book.
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Doris Kearns Goodwin

Pulitzer Prize for History

I found an usher's diary at the Roosevelt Library that recorded what Franklin and Eleanor did every day. "Awakened at 6:30; had breakfast with Henry Stimson; had lunch with Joe Lash," or whatever. I could then go to the diaries of the people they had lunch or breakfast with to record what they said at breakfast or lunch. Eleanor wrote 25 letters a day to her friends. I got every single one of those letters and figured out what her mood was like on that day. Made a huge chronology, before I even started the book, of 1940 to '45, the years that I was covering, so that I could recreate every day, in a certain sense, in their lives.
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Doris Kearns Goodwin

Pulitzer Prize for History

As much research as you think you're doing, you're going to mess up, without a question. There are some times -- I mean, I got the date of Roosevelt's birthday wrong! I can't believe it! I knew what his birthday was, and somehow I'd typed it wrong into the typewriter, and in the first edition of the book I had it the wrong day. Then immediately one reader called me up. Luckily now, the great thing about books is they print new and newer editions every few weeks, so you can correct your mistakes. And then, the next edition that comes out had the right date in it. There will be more serious things like that, that you might get wrong. Somebody will come up to you afterwards and say, "You know, you just didn't interpret this right. I was there," and maybe you didn't interview that person. What I think I've learned is that you're never going to get it all right, and you can't obsess about having a fact wrong or a date wrong or something like that, as long as you tried as best you could. And you know some of them you will be able to change with the new editions of the book or the paperback. But even if it's still wrong, if it is not meant, if you've done the kind of research that you're sure is pretty good, then you just have to have confidence in it, so that nothing is perfect in life. I think that is what the criticism has helped me to understand.
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Mikhail Gorbachev

Nobel Prize for Peace

My position was as follows: through democracy, through glasnost, compel people, rouse people to speak for themselves, analyze, and decide for themselves what is to be done. That was the main thing that drove me. Of course I also saw that the country was breaking down, that it was beginning to lag behind. It could not react appropriately to the challenges of the technological revolution; it was not flexible, because the people were permitted no initiative, no freedom. The entrepreneurs were not permitted this, nor was anyone else: teachers, physicians, engineers, scientists. Everything was under control; everything was in gridlock or stagnant. That's what I saw.
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Nadine Gordimer

Nobel Prize in Literature

Because we felt, "Who are these people who are banning our books?" And remember, I had got the reasons, yes, and one of the reasons was that a child is going around a church and there were pictures. You might have remembered if you read the book, there's an unusual Christ on the cross, and here he was dark, dark hair or something. And the child said, "No, that's not Jesus. Jesus has got blond hair," and so on. And so the parents who were taking her around said, "You know, this was in the Middle East, and it's very likely indeed that he was very dark. So not blue-eyed and blond at all." And this was blasphemous. For God's sake! Or in any of the gods'!
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