I was interested in this book, but slightly daunted by its size. But I love american history so I picked it up anyway, and I'm so glad I did. It goes so much faster than you'd imagine and is really a fascinating account of the events surrounding Lincoln's nomination election and presidency. Fantastic book!
Doug B. (dougbail) reviewed Team of Rivals : The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln on
Helpful Score: 5
This book got its second wind when President-elect Obama endorsed some of the ideas explored herein. The focus here is on the relations among Abe and his cabinet and the relationships among the cabinet members. There's not much new, but Goodwin, above and beyond being a solid historian, is a great storyteller. There is nothing about this book to dislike and there is much to endorse.
Jennifer W. reviewed Team of Rivals : The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln on
Helpful Score: 4
This book was surprisingly interesting. I expected to get more bogged down in the details, which were extensive, but it kept a pretty good thread throughout. There were probably more details than necessary about the main characters backgrounds, but that helped me keep them straight in my head.
Lincoln's gift for logic over passion and his ability to give up credit to someone else for the sake of expediency and the good of the country, are beautifully portrayed. Overall, a good read that required my full mental focus throughout the whole book. Fascinating.
Team of Rivals is the best inner study of Abraham Lincoln's political abilities and weaknesses. History has crowned him as the greatest president, but often these titles come from myth, timing, and given situation. Lincoln is all the novice in national politics, but this nativity may have made him so strong in this horrible period. Miss Goodwin beautifully records how Lincoln did everything wrong for all the right reasons. You will not only get a much deeper view and feel for Lincoln, but lesser political and military figures are "fleshed out". Team of Rivals will fill in countless gaps on how and why, but it will also really give you a fuller insight on why many view Lincoln the greatest of the American presidents.
This is the first time in a long time that I'm really sad the book came to and end. I feel as if I've lost a friend, and a wise one at that. Doris Goodwin does such a good job of placing you in Lincoln's cabinet meetings, learning his thoughts and words as recorded from them in personal diaries, by the end you feel as if you've known them all personally.
It was also interesting to learn about what the mood was in the country at that time. Lincoln was a master at judging the appropriate time to present items to his cabinet, congress and the public. He held off on items he wanted desperately to push through but knew they wouldn't be accepted before the masses were ready for them. (i.e., the Proclamation of Emancipation, the 11th amendment abolishing slavery) What an incredibly wise man.
He was also a man with deep moral convictions and a kind, tender heart. It pained him to have to have deserter's of the army executed and if it were at all possible, he would pardon them--much to the chagrin of the Secretary of War.
From the very moment he stepped into the White House he was besieged with problems of enormous importance that would require a measured response and a firm belief in the union. Lincoln was just the man for the job. In fact, I think he was destined for that job. I seriously doubt any other could have handled the various factions that warred within his own cabinet--a cabinet of rivals, by his choosing. He didn't want men around him that would be yes men or demur to his rulings. He wanted men who would stand up to him if need be to express their point of few and to rally for the people they represented. Each man he chose was the best for his job in more ways than just skill. Together they represented the emotions and thoughts of the entire country. They fought amongst themselves, sometimes bitterly.
Lincoln was able to step back, listen to all of their viewpoints and take them into account when reaching his own decision on what was best
for the country. He held no grudges and was never vindictive. In the end all of them came to love him, some more reluctantly. To know that he could change the opinions of men who were certain he was just an unschooled farm boy of limited intelligence and no political savvy was nothing short of miraculous in my opinion. They all came to recognize his intelligence, wisdom and ability to see beyond the moment.
What a great loss they must have all felt when he was assassinated. The country was left in despair. One of my favorite parts of the book was when Lee surrendered and Lincoln said: Thank God I was able to live to see this day. My purpose has been fulfilled. (Not verbatim) In less than two weeks, he would be assassinated.
I will have to read the biography of Andrew Johnson now, to see how the country fared after such a loss. I know that "it all worked out" but I'd like to know how the people of the United States could gather up such courage after losing the one man who had managed to steer them faithfully through a horrid, long war and give them hope for the future.
On the Mystical side, I couldn't help but feeling that there was a higher power involved in his election and throughout his governing of this great country. So many things had to happen at just the right moment in order for him to have been elected, re-elected as well as lead this country in a way no other could have done.
He wanted Reconstruction in the south to be fair. He had no desire to punish them or hang those who led the confederate armies, much different than what many others in Congress thought should be done to the South. He viewed the North and the South as one and wanted the South to be welcomed back into the fold, like a long lost child. For him, it was never about retribution. He simply wanted the country to become whole and heal itself.
A remarkable man that deserves all the praise given to him.
The love and intricate work that went into this book by Dorris Goodwin is evident throughout. She is a gifted historian who brings history to life and makes you wish you could have been there to see it all.
Team of Rivals is somewhat over rated. The begining is very slow and disconected. Mrs Goodwin even acuses Lincoln of visiting prostitutes. As a result I could not read the book for a year. ( I would have posted it had she not personaly signed my copy.) The middle section when is was president was the best part. She weaves all the players together. Then when Lincoln dies she does not unravel the players as she brought them together. She simply gives a short epiloge. I would like to have seen how the remain peoples lives went on and ended.
Excellent book but HUGE and heavy-hurts your hands to even hold it to try to read it! I had to balance it on a pillow to read it. I think the book is excellent and I learned a lot, but let me just say that no matter how much you like it and feel you are learning from it, you can only take so much before you start nodding out from names, politics, etc. I figured out right away I had to read it in small bursts. I chose to read this one because of the Presidential elections coming up, and the 'stuff' we are going through in nomination process. This was a powerful combination, as you so see some similarities between 'now and then.' Some of the quotes just made me laugh. How could you not see the comparisons and love this one "The conduct of the Republican party in this nomination is a remarkable indication of small intellect, growing smaller..." (The New York Herald May 19 1860 commenting on Abraham Lincoln's nomination).
I read the part about the nomination of Lincoln by the GOP, it's rarely in other books in any length or depth It sounds like it was a pretty haphazard process (unlike today's managed events), especially since it was only the GOP's 2nd convention. It sounds like Lincoln might have won by stacking the audience (by printing duplicate tickets), and of course, he had the home field advantage.
8 CDs. Well, she explains the politics of Lincoln's nomination in 1860, and Chase's aborted attempt to be nominated in 1864 better than anyone else has done. Other than that, she doesn't cover much new, and she fawns over Lincoln (as do almost all biographers) to the detriment of other figures. The reader, Richard Thomas (Johnboy) doesn't help, reading McClellan's and Chase's words with a lilting haughtiness. Of course, no one else has much good to say about McClellan or Chase's character. A lot of history skipped over, but maybe that's because it's an abridgement.
A very "heavy" read indeed. The book provides a very good look into the lives of Lincoln and some of his closest associates. I really learned a lot about politics in the 1850 and 1860s. However, at over 900 pages (with relatively small print) this book is quite a load to carry around!