Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!
I suppose the first question you’re asking is “Why did she give such a highly acclaimed book an average rating?” Doris Kearns Goodwin’s ‘Team of Rivals’ is a fantastic, detailed history of a crucial historical period from a fresh perspective, but it is hard to follow as an audio book. It was, in fact, so hard to follow, more than 12 hours into the audio recording, I had to stop and start over.
Historical figures were mentioned and set aside, only to appear hours later in the audio. I longed for an index to find the names and their places in the narrative.
However, because I have a busy life and spend a lot of time driving, the chances were good that I wouldn’t have had the time to actually read the book for quite some time. I was glad to be able to hear it, especially to bring a historical perspective to the current president and his cabinet.
The narration itself was fine, but the editing was a problem. There were frequently long pauses, and I found myself wondering if I was coming to a new chapter; had a call coming in on my iPhone, or if I’d disconnected my headphones. That wasn’t the case, but watch out for that distraction.
Teams of Rivals is a story of politics, unlike most books about Lincoln. However, Goodwin obviously worships at the Lincoln altar, and the book is rife with ‘Lincolnesque’ wisdom and stories. I personally felt a bit hammered with the fervor of the author and her personal admiration of Lincoln and his words; there is considerable repetition. That said, Team of Rivals is a terrific insight into Lincoln.
The book begins with the biographical detail of Lincoln’s cabinet members and progresses through his election, Presidency, the American Civil War, his assassination, and ends with the death of Mary Todd. The story does not linger on any single historical event. It is a compilation of the behaviors of Lincoln himself and his circle of cabinet members, family, and friends, primarily from a political view. Attitudes regarding preservation of the Union and slavery are the primary focus. The genius of Lincoln and his artful manipulation of the disparate personalities of the men surrounding the White House, including Civil War generals, is the backbone of Team of Rivals.
Understanding and appreciating the passions and goals of others, and using this knowledge to his advantage, was his genius … especially considering he ruffled no feathers in the process.
This book is the basis for the Spielberg movie, Lincoln. Cliché though it may be, “The book is better.” , applies. The full title of the book is actually: Team of Rivals - The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Over 41 hours of listening, the book is read by Suzanne Toren. As an audiobook listener, I was more focused on the history of the time and man, and wasn’t distracted by the reading … so she apparently does a good job :-).
Love every genre - read a book every 2 weeks or so- I mix between business books, classics, modern fiction, and biographies
Great balance between flaws and strengths. The depth of the man was well represented in the writing.
Honestly, early in the book when how he became the Nominee was described by choosing to be everyone's 2nd choice showed such genius
Too many to name
I think I was most moved when the words of the Gettysburg Address was described - the powerfulness of the short speech were so succinctly perfect. I had no idea it was that short and the culmination of all the things he discovered leading up to that point really helped me understand why its such a big part of history
Christian, middle-school teacher, horse lover and rider, grandmother, love America, hate getting old, pretty good cook.
I didn't see the movie, but thought this would be very dry. In fact, the story comes to life and I was engrossed in yet another Lincoln book (I read the Carl Sandburg volumes many years ago, plus other Lincoln biographies).
The political intrigue of his rivals (and their in depth, personal stories) and of course, Mary Todd Lincoln...he seemed to love the nut!
If I don't notice the reader, then I'm happy. She did an excellent job.
For those who are fascinated with Lincoln, but think they've read all they can stand on the man. This book breathes a fresh breath onto the historical facts of his presidency, his friends and enemies, the Civil War, and his family.
A brilliant idea to tell the story not only of Lincoln but of his rivals to the 1860 Republication nomination, Seward, Chase and Bates, whom he courageously included in his cabinet. The copious excerpts from letters and diaries make the characters come alive. The dramatic story is worthy of any great novel. The description of the man and the leader that Lincoln was, is in and of itself inspiring and instructive no matter what one's social role is. Seward too, together with his wife Frances, also emerge as remarkably attractive individuals.
Suzanne Toren's reading is clear and engaging, and carries a dignified tone appropriate to such a story. I enjoyed it as much at the end as at the beginning. Her very good French pronounciation also comes in handy at a number of points!
Masterful emotional intelligence
Impossible! This is a very lengthy tome. At times slow, especially in the beginning when the author is still developing the profile of the central characters, but worth reading if you have an interest in Lincoln, politics or political science, history, or just human influence. I have a new appreciation for the brilliance of our 16th President.
I love a good book...
Team of Rivals held my attention even though it was a long book. I really like history so it held my attention. I learned things about Lincoln I had not known before so I really enjoyed this book. Too bad the movie missed about 60% of this book.
It's difficult to find a perspective on the Civil War and Lincoln that hasn't already been exposed. However, Kearns Goodwin manages to do just that. It's the backstory that hasn't been told in one complete narrative. She stays remarkably on track by focusing on the players in the cabinet and Lincoln. There are also sub-characters she provides with remarkable interest - like Chase's daughter and the two secretary's to Lincoln. There are other small players who add to the story but Kearns Goodwin never strays from from the main thread. This book is a phenomenal listen.
My only criticism is for the reader. Toren, while fitting the narrative with a fine, strong, persuasive voice, at times is too precious with her pronunciation. The read is sometimes stilted and stiff seeming to try to give gravity to the story where her natural voice already accomplished the task. I don't think Lincoln would have tried to be so reverent.
It gave a real sense of what went on behind the scenes and even in the minds (thanks to their letters) of many of the players at the time.
She was able to capture the 'maleness' of the characters, and create appropriate tones to match the context within which each historical character spoke. At times it felt like I was watching a TV mini-series about actual events.
Not the first time. Having to listen to all of the stories behind each 'rival' was tedious at the first listen because I wanted to get to the great man immediately, but months later, coming back to the story I could appreciate the relevance and role each story played in the greater story about Lincoln's political and human genius.
Not being familiar with the team of characters around Lincoln, the book does a great job of presenting them...which is also it's weak point. Editing could have been tried. There are simply 3, 4 or 5 volumes here.
Seperate books would have been better and was called for here.
The best part of this story was the way DKG was able to weave the best of ...oh who am I kidding here; I couldn't finish it. The performance ran me off a great story...
This can was simply too much to overcome. At the beginning of EVERY sentence DKG simply inhales so violently, it seems like each one is her last breath.
if you can somehow blcok out the inhalation drama at the beginning of every break, yes. If not, buy the book.
I for one, could not.