Doris Kearns Goodwin has read a lot of upbeat material about American presidents, but some of the entries on the White House website were so sunny that they reminded her of the happy talk at Boston Red Sox games.
So what are some of the critiques of these biographies?
Thomas Jefferson is introduced as a "powerful advocate of liberty" who "inherited some 5,000 acres of land," but is not identified as an owner of slaves. Andrew Jackson's page says virtually nothing about his advocacy of slavery or harsh treatment of American Indians. The life of William Henry Harrison, a military commander who became the ninth president, is narrated as a valiant crusade against Indians.
The biographies were also critiqued for political incorrectness (example: using the word Negroes), leaving out essential information (example: nothing on the election of 2000 in Bush's entry), or overly personal versus political entries.
The White House did not comment on the white, but a spokesperson said it would be looked into. The biographies were originally written in 1964 and meant, in the words of Jackie Kennedy,"to provide a brief, popular historical sketch to accompany the images of the official White House portraits and meant to enhance the public's enjoyment of their White House tour."
A quote by Eric Foner is a good way to sum this up: