The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism

Version: Abridged (Unabridged version available here)
Author: Doris Kearns Goodwin
Narrator: Edward Herrmann
Genres: North America
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Published In: November 2013
# of Units: 13 CDs
Length: 15 hours
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The gap between rich and poor has never been wider . . . legislative stalemate paralyzes the country . . . corporations resist federal regulations . . . spectacular mergers produce giant companies . . . the influence of money in politics deepens . . . bombs explode in crowded streets . . . small wars proliferate far from our shores . . . a dizzying array of inventions speeds the pace of daily life.
These unnervingly familiar headlines serve as the backdrop for Doris Kearns Goodwin s highly anticipated "The Bully Pulpit" a dynamic history of the first decade of the Progressive era, that tumultuous time when the nation was coming unseamed and reform was in the air.
The story is told through the intense friendship of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft a close relationship that strengthens both men before it ruptures in 1912, when they engage in a brutal fight for the presidential nomination that divides their wives, their children, and their closest friends, while crippling the progressive wing of the Republican Party, causing Democrat Woodrow Wilson to be elected, and changing the country s history.
"The Bully Pulpit" is also the story of the muckraking press, which arouses the spirit of reform that helps Roosevelt push the government to shed its laissez-faire attitude toward robber barons, corrupt politicians, and corporate exploiters of our natural resources. The muckrakers are portrayed through the greatest group of journalists ever assembled at one magazine Ida Tarbell, Ray Stannard Baker, Lincoln Steffens, and William Allen White teamed under the mercurial genius of publisher S. S. McClure.
Goodwin s narrative is founded upon a wealth of primary materials. The correspondence of more than four hundred letters between Roosevelt and Taft begins in their early thirties and ends only months before Roosevelt s death. Edith Roosevelt and Nellie Taft kept diaries. The muckrakers wrote hundreds of letters to one another, kept journals, and wrote their memoirs. The letters of Captain Archie Butt, who served as a personal aide to both Roosevelt and Taft, provide an intimate view of both men.
"The Bully Pulpit," like Goodwin s brilliant chronicles of the Civil War and World War II, exquisitely demonstrates her distinctive ability to combine scholarly rigor with accessibility. It is a major work of history an examination of leadership in a rare moment of activism and reform that brought the country closer to its founding ideals.

Reviews (4)


Written by Anonymous on November 24th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Good book but very long. Thought I would never finish it.

Written by Christopher Zott on December 12th, 2016

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Extraordinary!! The intertwined life of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft was incredible. As always Edward Herrmann's narration was superb. Learning of the individual backgrounds of the original McClures magazine production staff was so very interesting. Doris Kearns Goodwin hit the jackpot square on with this monumental classic. I would highly recommend. I'm sure I'll read parts of it over and over.

Written by Dan Swain on July 13th, 2016

  • Book Rating: 5/5

An outstanding book. Time well-spent! I highly recommend this book.

Written by Ron Brindle on September 20th, 2014

  • Book Rating: 4/5

The story drags at times but Kearns Goodwin provides enough insight

Author Details

Author Details

Goodwin, Doris Kearns

Doris Kearns was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in Rockville Center, Long Island. Her invalid mother encouraged her love of books, while her father shared her love of baseball; she traces her interest in history to her childhood experience recording the fortunes of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Doris Kearns Goodwin Biography Photo
She received her B.A. from Colby College, Maine, graduating magna cum laude. While in college, she undertook summer internships at the U.S. Congress and the State Department. She won a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and earned a Ph.D. in Government at Harvard University.

She was serving as a White House Fellow in 1967, when her opposition to President Johnson's foreign policy led her to co-author an article for The New Republic entitled "How to Remove LBJ in 1968." Only a few months later, she became a special assistant to President Johnson in the White House. The President apparently believed that having a White House fellow who was critical of the administration would prove he did not feel threatened by the growing anti-war sentiment in America

After President Johnson's retirement in 1969, Doris Kearns began a decade's work as a Professor of Government at Harvard, where she taught a course on the American Presidency. On weekends, holidays and vacations she traveled to Johnson's ranch in Texas, to assist the ex-president in the preparation of his memoir, The Vantage Point (1971).

President Johnson died in January, 1973. In 1975, Doris Kearns married Richard Goodwin, who had been an advisor and speechwriter to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and to Sen. Robert Kennedy. In 1977, Doris Kearns Goodwin published her first book, Lyndon Johnson & the American Dream, drawing on her own conversations with the late president. It became a New York Times bestseller and Book of The Month Club selection. With her husband's assistance, she began research in the Kennedy family archives in Hyannisport. The result was The Fitzgeralds & The Kennedys (1987), a New York Times bestseller for five months. In 1990, it was made into a six hour miniseries for ABC Television.

Her next success was, No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The American Homefront During World War II which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1995. Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir was published in 1997. Her tale of growing up in the 1950's and her love of the Brooklyn Dodgers became a New York Times bestseller and Book of the Month Club selection.

Her 2005 book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, recounts President Lincoln's complex relations with the strong personalities he brought into his wartime cabinet. A national besteseller, it won the prestigious Lincoln Prize and the inaugural Book Prize for American History. Steven Spielberg has acquired motion picture rights to the book and plans to star Liam Neeson as President Lincoln.

In addition to her books, Ms. Goodwin has written numerous articles on politics and baseball for leading national publications. She is a regular panelist on Public Television's The News Hour with Jim Lehrer and a frequent commentator on NBC and MSNBC. She has been consultant and on-air person for PBS documentaries on LBJ, the Kennedy family, Franklin Roosevelt and Ken Burns's History of Baseball. She is also the first woman ever to enter the Red Sox locker room. Doris and Richard Goodwin have three sons. They make their home in Concord, Massachusetts.