NEW YORK, September 20—Simon & Schuster announced today that it will publish An Unfinished Love Story: A Personal History of the 1960s by one of America’s most beloved and respected historians, Doris Kearns Goodwin, on April 16, 2024. Biography, memoir, and history all-in-one, she takes readers along on the emotional journey she and her husband, Richard (Dick) Goodwin embarked upon in the last years of his life.
Dick and Doris were married for forty-two years and married to American history even longer. In his twenties, Dick was one of the brilliant young men of John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier. In his thirties he both named and helped design Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and was a speechwriter and close advisor to Robert Kennedy. Doris Kearns was a twenty-four-year-old graduate student when selected as a White House Fellow. She worked directly for Lyndon Johnson and later assisted on his memoir.
Over the years, with humor, anger, frustration, and in the end, growing understanding, Dick and Doris had argued, questioned, and debated the achievements and the failings of the leaders they served and observed, debating the progress and unfinished promises of the country they both loved.
The Goodwins’ last great adventure involved finally opening the more than three hundred boxes of letters, diaries, documents, and memorabilia that Dick had carted around, largely unexamined, for more than fifty years. They soon realized they had before them an unparalleled personal time capsule of the 1960s, illuminating public and private moments of a decade when individuals were powered by the conviction they could make a difference; a time, like today, marked by struggles for racial and economic justice, a time when lines were drawn and loyalties tested.
Says Doris Kearns Goodwin: “America has been at odds with itself before. I’ve been drawn to such turbulent times—the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, World War II. This is the story of one of those times, of my husband and myself, and our generation shaped by the cataclysms of the 1960s. We see what historic opportunities were seized, what chances were lost, what light those years cast upon our own fractured time. ‘The end of our country has loomed many times before,’ my husband often reminded me, ‘America is not as fragile as it seems.’”
Their expedition gave Dick’s last years renewed purpose and determination. It gave Doris the opportunity to connect and reconnect with participants and witnesses of pivotal moments of the 1960s. And it gave them both an opportunity to make fresh assessments of the central figures of the time—John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, Eugene McCarthy, and especially Lyndon Johnson, who greatly impacted both their lives. The voyage of remembrance brought unexpected discoveries, forgiveness, and the renewal of old dreams, reviving the hope that the youth of today will carry forward this unfinished love story with America.
“Doris Kearns Goodwin is a national treasure. She has now written her most personal and profound work of history. This book is a revelation and an inspiration,” adds Jonathan Karp, President and Chief Executive Officer of Simon & Schuster.
Karp acquired North America, audio, and first serial rights from Amanda Urban at Creative Artists Agency. The book will be simultaneously published by Simon & Schuster in hardcover, ebook, and audio.