As the Instapundit likes to say, "Heh."
In other DKG news, it seems she has won the 2005 Lincoln Prize ... hat tip to Brian Dirck.
In emails and casual conversation I have heard the opinion repeatedly expressed by my colleagues that Team of Rivals is an overrated disappointment with no original ideas (pretty much my reaction too, I'll admit). The general public, on the other hand, seems to have been much more enthusiastic about Goodwin's achievement, citing the book's storytelling qualities and general entertainment value.Once I go through her sales figures for this book I hope you'll agree with me that the public enthusiasm is not really there. Media enthusiasm, maybe.
One of the prizegivers gave me a little heartburn with this: "This is a once-in-a-generation scholarly achievement that has drawn hundreds of thousands of new readers into history's greatest story."
If you read three books in your lifetime, this might be once-in-a-generation stuff.
Gabor Boritt, who is the prime mover behind the prize was more realistic:
This prestigious award was originally and specifically designed to honor signal accomplishments in the field that are "aimed at the literate general public." This year's striking achievement by Doris Kearns Goodwin gives us the welcome opportunity to highlight this important aspect of the Lincoln Prize.I can endorse Goodwin's award on that basis.
Up to a point. If you want masses of fiction readers stomping about your nonfiction area of interest thinking that history is dramaturgy, the prize is designed to help do that. If you want readers impatient with a nuanced description of a controversy, you've got it. If you want publishers flooding our space with copycat stuff even worse than a Goodwin original, this prize is for you.
One does get tired of these talespinners being labeled scholars, however. A real scholar is coughing blood while reading some choice pop history passages.
p.s. Kevin has more on this.
p.p.s. Brian notes that the Spielberg movie based on this book has been placed on indefinite hiatus. Book sales softness, methinks.