After hearing the author on the Conversations with History podcast I decided to pick up the book. The book is informative but so dry in places that the ah-hah moments were strategically placed oases. It took a pair of multi-week breaks to get through it. I don't regret it because I do think the book is one that the well read person should have under their belt but my goodness, it was hard to get through! I truly hope I am in the minority on this.
Lincoln assembled the best people he could find to lead the nation in what was the most divisive period of our history. Lincoln found those people, strong and driven and patriotic, each with a vision of what this country could and should be in his rivals. Chase, Seward and all the others, each great on their own, were forged into a championship team by an ordinary man of extraordinary compassion and dedication to the founding principles of this Nation.
President Lincoln has been referenced many times in the past years by President Obama, who used Lincoln's Bible at his inauguration in 2008 and most recently spoke of him in his acceptance speech of the nomination for President at the Democratic National Convention. For those on the left who may have difficulty understanding the apparent slowness and tepidness of Obama's policies and decisions, read this book to better understand him. For those on the right who may have difficulty believing that the invitations to engage and compromise and move this nation forward together are sincere and serious, read this book to better understand him.
For the work and performance I will share one small anecdote. I've always been moved by the text of the Gettysburg Address but as told through the words of Doris Kearns Goodwin and the stellar voice of Suzanne Toren I felt I was there, on the battlefield, hearing it at its birth.
A former history professor once said to me that historians have the disadvantage of hindsight and that since we know what actually happened we must strive to account for that when arriving at our conclusions. This book put that statement to the test for me as I listened. Wonderfully narrated, this intricate story depicting the rise of a fragile and hated group lays bare both the ferocity and ineptness of human beings as a species as we hear about the origins, assumptions and activities of what will be known as Al Qaeda. This book is highly recommended.
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