This book simultaneously brings us closer to the minds of these historical figures while also showing us how, in some cases, we cannot truly put ourselves in their place.
Having read one of the worshipful books about Lincoln some years ago, in which many of his high-handed and insensitive [if clever] responses to people in need were chronicled, I am not a wholehearted Lincoln fan.
Neither am I a Civil War enthusiast.
Nonetheless, Team Of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln is turning out to be the best and most profound addition to my knowledge and perspective as I enter my sixties.
I tend to focus on the almost cliché "big picture", and find that Doris Kearns Goodwin maintains a consistent perspective throughout the work. She tells us enough about Lincoln's cabinet members to let us see them as complete (if sometimes unlikeable) human beings, without devolving into a set of mini-biographies.
She also successfully avoids letting the book be about The Civil War itself, instead focusing on the day to day happenings around Lincoln and his cabinet. If anything, I find myself wanting to hear a bit more about the ebb and flow of the war, and this is how things should be.
At the outset I hoped to learn more about General McClellan, as I knew something about the troubles he caused for President Lincoln. Team of Rivals more than satisfies this initial curiosity. And though McClellan was not part of Lincoln's cabinet, I find myself wanting to know more about how such a blissfully self-unaware personality came to be.
I need my sleep - no way for me to listen to 40+ hours in one sitting ;)
Occasional glaring mispronunciations (for example PREE-scient for prescient and conSUMMate for consummate) introduce noticeable distractions from the substance of the book itself.
I am listening to this book on a 2012 Chevrolet Volt, and there are occasional glitches in the playback. I have no way of knowing whether these are inherent in the down-loaded audible.com files, the technology transfer into my vehicle or the playback, but they are generally limited to short duration bursts of noise.
This book really makes it clear why Lincoln was such a great leader. His ability to turn his rivals into his advisors made him and the country stronger. To be honest, I had started out reading the book but found it a little dense. The narration was quite good and really drew me in. There was so much about Lincoln, the war, and the country that I did not know, and Doris Kearns Goodwin really brought it all to life.
I had wanted to listen to this for years, but I found my mind wandering over and over while it was playing. I had to back up and listen to parts again. I think the fault was with the narrator. Having a woman narrator detracted greatly. Also, she just didn't have much "life" about her.
I probably should have know but this book talks little about licoln and a lot about polic=tics at the time just not my thing really.
It would rank among the top 2.
The book is well written and the narration is amazing. One of the most memorable moments of the narration is when a Story of Stanton is narrated where he passes a death sentence and then weeps for the burdens of his duties.
Her narration is pleasant and inviting. Her tone is warming and she bring a certain depth into the book which I felt would not be there if I just read the book.
I felt overwhelmed by the efforts and dedication that the heroes of this book present to achieve their goals. The narration was essential in bringing about the sorrow and joy felt by them.
Whether you're a lover of history or not, the power of this story will keep you enthralled. No mystery could have so many twists and turns.
Goodwin's phenomenally detailed story combined with the excellent reader's expression (without over dramatizing!) was superb!
Avid reader until vision impairment set in. Now an avid listener!
To me the best histories frame the narration of events with the social contexts that shape them. I'm always interested in how religion, social standing, family and group experiences, and culture, for example, influence the choices historical figures have made. This book excels at discussing these interactions. It's so much more than a biography of Lincoln and the other men who make up the "team of rivals." We get a rich and persuasive portrayal of the contexts in which all of the characters form their ideas and set out on their actions.
I thought the performance distracted from the book. It was so overrefined and stagey. The narrator spoke with an American accent, but the only word I can think of to describe it is "plummy." A less theatrical reading would have made listening a great pleasure.
No. The book is long and full of details, memorable anecdotes, and lots of important historical information.
I was almost put off this audiobook because of its length; it is by far the longest audiobook I have listened to yet. Having finished it this morning, I can say that it was worth every single unabridged minute!
What makes this account of Lincoln special is that his life and achievements are not viewed in isolation, but rather in the context of his contemporaries. Doris Kearns Goodwin does an exemplary job of contextualizing the times and circumstances of Lincoln's life through the lives of those around him, including his family, his political advisors and their families. Kearns Goodwin introduced me to the names of Seward, Chase, and Bates, and now that I know of their names and accomplishments, it is hard to believe there was a time when I didn't know them. But more importantly, the book makes clear that without these men, Lincoln could not have succeeded, nor would he hold such prominence in history today.
Not only is the research method sound, but the narration is solid, like the telling of an intricate story. More than a few times I paused to reflect on the sheer magnitude of Kearns Goodwin's accomplishment, for this is not a book that could have been achieved by just any historian. This book is an accomplishment of a lifetime, and it is the definitive historical account of Lincoln and his times. I cannot imagine it being surpassed any time soon.
Suzanne Toren's reading was flawless. Her voice was consistent and steady (though not monotonous) and her subtle changes in register let the reader know when she was giving a quotation, which is very helpful with a book like this.
This is not the sort of book I would recommend while going for a jog, or doing something which requires a lot of mental or physical exertion. Although the story is told clearly and concisely, it is very easy to miss an important event or relationship twist if one is preoccupied doing other things. I myself opted to listen to this book every morning while doing my makeup and getting dressed, listening only about 30-45 minutes per day, sometimes less. It took me months to get through it, but I came to enjoy it as a part of my daily routine, the way one might a morning news program, and I feel a bit sad now that it's over.
I give this book a 5 star rating without hesitation or reservation.
Absolutely amazing. Doris Kearns Goodwin's narrative of the political genius, magnetic personality, and overwhelming empathy of Abraham Lincoln is an astounding work of both scholarship and literature. Delving deep into federal, state, and personal archives, and grappling continually with both the accounts of his contemporaries and the scholarship since, Goodwin has woven a beautiful, powerful, and compelling story which does due justice to Lincoln as a statesman, commander, and (most importantly) a person. The miniature narratives within the larger piece, laying out the peculiarities and personalities of the other players (Seward, Stanton, Chase, Bates, Welles, and Blair, primarily), rather than distracting from the central character, add a depth and versatility to the story which explain many of Lincoln's actions--and in doing so enhance the reader's understanding of this singularly great man.
Moreover, the performance by Suzanne Toren is equally impressive, managing a pace and tone which complement Goodwin's prose. Recognizing Lincoln and others' ability to find humor in the darkest of situations, and to move between gravity and comedy as is best needed by the situation, Goodwin and Toren convey the liveliness and humanity, as well as the superhuman capabilities, of these great players of the Civil War.
Those interested in the Civil War, history of the Constitution, the political life of the nation, or in Lincoln will both appreciate and thoroughly enjoy this book; and, if one also enjoys a good audio book, this also comes highly recommended.
To say I loved this book would be an understatement. I enjoy history but by no means consider myself a student of history, but this story awoke in me an intense interest in this period of our country's history and the history of the office of the President. This account of the life of Lincoln has unlocked for me a love of history I did not know existed. Incredible man, incredible life, incredible circumstances and Doris Kearns Goodwin captures it all. Don't be scared off by the length of the book, it will fly by. Do it!