The Bully Pulpit

Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism

The Bully Pulpit

After Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, Doris Kearns Goodwin wields her magic on another larger-than-life president, and another momentous and raucous American time period as she brings Theodore Roosevelt, the muckraking journalists, and the Progressive Era to life.

As she focused on the relationships between Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in No Ordinary Time, and on Lincoln and his Team in Team of Rivals, Goodwin describes the broken friendship between Teddy Roosevelt and his chosen successor, William Howard Taft. With the help of the “muckraking” press—including legendary journalists Ida Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, William Allen White, and editor Sam McClure—Roosevelt had wielded the Bully Pulpit to challenge and triumph over abusive monopolies, political bosses, and corrupting money brokers. Roosevelt led a revolution that he bequeathed to Taft only to see it compromised as Taft surrendered to money men and big business. The rupture between the two led Roosevelt to run against Taft for president, an ultimately futile race that resulted in the election of Democrat Woodrow Wilson and the diminishment of Theodore Roosevelt’s progressive wing of the Republican Party.

Like Goodwin’s chronicles of the Civil War and the Great Depression, The Bully Pulpit describes a time in our history that enlightened and changed the country, ushered in the modern age, and produced some unforgettable men and women.


Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Bully Pulpit includes an introduction, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


In this critically acclaimed work, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin turns her attention to the first decade of the Progressive era, the tumultuous time when the nation was coming apart at its seams—the gap between the rich and the poor had never been wider, corporations resisted federal regulation, and political parties could be bought— and reform was in the air.

Goodwin frames her narrative around the intense friendship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, which strengthens each man before it completely ruptures in 1912, when they engage in a brutal fight against each other for the presidential nomination, crippling the Progressive wing of the Republican Party in the process. It’s also the story of the muckraking press, which Roosevelt credited with changing the nation’s politics.

Founded upon a wealth of primary materials, The Bully Pulpit demonstrates Goodwin’s trademark ability to combine scholarly rigor with accessibility. It is a major work of history—an examinat see more

More Books from this Author

Team of Rivals
Wait Till Next Year
No Ordinary Time

About the Author

Doris Kearns Goodwin
Photograph © Eric Levin

Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin is the author of the runaway bestseller Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. She won the Pulitzer Prize in history for No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II and is also the author of the bestsellers Wait Till Next Year, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, and Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. She lives in Concord, Massachusetts, with her husband, Richard N. Goodwin.