Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin, narrated by Richard Thomas, abridged 9.5 hours
Non-fiction/Biography/Memoirs/History/Politics, Published 2005
Read March 2010
Challenges: Audio Book Reading Challenge
Awards: Lincoln Prize in 2006
From the Cover:
Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln’s political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.
On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry.
Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war. That Lincoln succeeded, Goodwin demonstrates, was the result of a charachter that had been forged by experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.
It was this capacity that enabled Lincoln as president to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the war.
We view the long, horrifying struggle from the vantage of the White House as Lincoln copes with incompetent generals, hostile congressmen, and his raucous cabinet. He overcomes these obstacle by winning the respect of his former competitors, and in the case of Seward, finds a loyal and crucial friend to see him through.
I find it hard to review audio books, especially non-fiction, because I feel like I miss SO much information, but I’m not sure if I would have been able to keep up the momentum and finish it if I were actually reading the book. I enjoyed the narrator. This was the abridged addition and I feel like much of the personal information about his family and home life were left out. I don’t know this for sure, since I haven’t read the whole book, but the main focus was on Lincoln’s political maneuvers and the reasons behind his decisions. I think the special touch that this author adds to the history is researching Lincoln’s peers: their letters and diaries, to see how they truly felt and reacted to the President. Lincoln had a lot going on at home, yet he also put his nation first. There were several illnesses and one of his children died during his time in office. I think I would have liked to hear Mary’s view of things, how things were at home with Lincoln so focused on the policies at the time.
This book ranged from when and how Lincoln arrived to the Presidency to the day he was assassinated. It is amazing that his name was even in the presidential election and that he actually won. Just think how different our American history might be if Abraham Lincoln had not been President! One major point driven over and over again was that Lincoln always looked at both sides of an issue. He had several cabinet members who did not share the same visions and policies, yet Lincoln always made them feel important and needed to balance all political decisions, thus creating a “Team of Rivals.”
“Very few public men in history had possessed it – none have ever shown the popular mind as Abraham Lincoln.”
“In democracy, every step he took must seem wise to the public mind.”
These quotes were taken from the end of the audio book and I have no idea which chapter…