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Doris Kearns Goodwin

June 2024
1min read

HISTORIAN

Abraham Lincoln first captured my heart when I listened to my mother read aloud the classic “Blue Book” biography series, which focused on the childhoods of famous Americans, including of course Lincoln. Every night I would fall asleep to the sound of my mother’s voice, so much softer and less piercing than mine, as she rendered the tale of Lincoln’s childhood. In this version of the story, Lincoln’s mother was the person who taught him to read and write.

I pictured young Abe snuggled in his bed just as I was, listening to his mother read aloud. My identification with Abe’s childhood grew stronger when I learned that his mother had died when he was only nine, for my own mother had a damaged heart that bound her to our house as an invalid and caused her death when I was fifteen.

Since those early days I have spent a lifetime looking back into the past, allowing me every now and then to believe that the people we have loved and respected really can live on, so long as we continue to tell and retell their stories. And having finally come back to Abraham Lincoln, I feel I have come full circle—to my first love.

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