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Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln | [Doris Kearns Goodwin]

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

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 obstacles by winning the respect of his former competitors, and in the case of Seward, finds a loyal and crucial friend to see him through. This brilliant multiple biography is centered on Lincoln's mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation's history.
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Publisher's Summary

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 character 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 obstacles by winning the respect of his former competitors, and in the case of Seward, finds a loyal and crucial friend to see him through.

This brilliant multiple biography is centered on Lincoln's mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation's history.

Listen to an interview with Doris Kearns Goodwin on The Bob Edwards Show.

©2005 Blithedale Productions, Inc.; (P)2005 Simon and Schuster Inc. All rights reserved.

What the Critics Say

  • 2006 Quill Award Nominee
  • National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, Biography or Autobiography, 2005

"The knowledge gained here about these three significant figures who well attended Lincoln gain for the reader an even keener appreciation of the rare individual that he was." (Publishers Weekly)
"An elegant, incisive study of Lincoln and leading members of his cabinet that will appeal to experts as well as to those whose knowledge of Lincoln is an amalgam of high-school history and popular mythology." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

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  •  
    V. Brown the hinterlands of Idaho-ho-ho 12-29-05
    V. Brown the hinterlands of Idaho-ho-ho 12-29-05

    llacharbach

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "great but sadly abridged"

    this is a terrific listen. it is so sad that it is abridged. do not look for a history of the American civil war. This book is not about that. The US Civil War merely is a backdrop to the story here. The story of this book is the Lincoln administration. It makes Lincoln understandable as a person. The account of the assasination is particularly riveting. I feel I understand his cabinet esp Stanton much better now. Too bad it isnt full length like her book on FDR.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Scottsdale, AZ, USA 12-22-05
    Jim Scottsdale, AZ, USA 12-22-05
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    "Great take on a great man"

    I thought enough had been written on the great man. However, I really felt closer to Lincoln after hearing the stories, struggles, rivalries sorrows and triumphs of Lincoln and his chosen few on the cabinet. Thoroughly enjoyable and authoritative piece of narrative history.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Spela Brookline, MA, USA 02-28-09
    Spela Brookline, MA, USA 02-28-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fabulous!"

    This book, widely acclaimed for its content, got me hooked on audio books. I won't spend much time praising Ms. Kearns Goodwin's work, as others--much more competent than me to evaluate work of a historian--have done that before me.

    I want to comment on the audio version of the book. The reader, Richard Thomas, is simply amazing. To me, he was a perfect match for the text. His voice is very pleasant and his reading style brings the text alive as in a performance. I stayed up many nights much later than was good for me listening to the book. Makes me never want to read myself, again :)

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Crystal Mission Viejo, CA, USA 04-30-08
    Crystal Mission Viejo, CA, USA 04-30-08
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    "Insightful History"

    This book tells Lincolns story in a intelligent and engrossing way. We came to know these people, but as is so rare - they grew and changed before our eyes.
    What an achievement Lincoln wrought, taking this group of strong minded powerfully willed men each wanting the presidency for himself, and creating a team of men working together to see us successfully through the Civil War!
    What President today could reach across the campaign vitriol and invite his talented rival to join his cabinet?
    Fascinating book We listened to it on a very long road trip and in the end sat in the car in the dark at our destination so we could finish the last 20 minutes. We had tears in our eyes as we left the car.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wallace Issaquah, WA, USA 12-08-07
    Wallace Issaquah, WA, USA 12-08-07 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Where's the unabridged version?"

    I truly loved listening to this one. It kept me quite entertained for the past few days. The details were certainly incredibly well researched, right down to how Lincoln looked the morning prior to his evening at Ford's Theater. I want to give this a much higher mark but, unfortunately, the abridged nature leaves out some key elements to support the title. We learn why they are "rivals" but never really come to fully understand how adept Lincoln was at building an overall "team". Those details might be in the unabridged book, which I may have to read just to see what I've missed. Sad......very

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Sacramento, CA, USA 03-12-07
    Eric Sacramento, CA, USA 03-12-07
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    "false advertising"

    I found this book disappointing because it did not really delve into the relationship between the "Team of Rivals". It seems that the "angle" of the book was simply an excuse to write a rather tame and at times saccarine history of Lincoln's presidency.

    Not worth getting if you are already familiar with the history of the Civil War and the general character of Lincoln.

    I would reccomend "Lincoln's Melancholy" as a more interesting account of his life.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam Marietta, GA, United States 09-27-06
    Adam Marietta, GA, United States 09-27-06 Member Since 2003
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    "Bad Cuts"

    I don't like abridged books and this one seems like it was a bad one. I haven't read the full book, but I have listened to unabridged books by the same author and they have been very good. This one seems to have the whole point of the book cut out. The book is supposed to have been about how Lincoln pulled together rivals but the abridgment just seems to try to get us through the civil war and not worry about the thesis of the book. I wanted a book about Lincoln's leadership, not the basics of civil war history. Very disappointing.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Davis San Pedro, CA, United States 01-12-06
    Davis San Pedro, CA, United States 01-12-06 Member Since 2005
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    "A very enjoyable listen"

    Team of Rivals is wonderfully written by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It flows so well that it almost like hearing a great story - which of course it is. Goodwin also does a great job of communicating Lincoln's great character, as well as getting across Seward and Chase's natures.

    I thought Richard Thomas did a great job reading. The inflections in his voice bring life to the text without being showy or overpowering the text itself.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan Athens, GA, USA 01-06-10
    Jonathan Athens, GA, USA 01-06-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wish they had unabridged version"

    I very much enjoyed this book, however, the abridged version left me wanting. Many of the details are left out to allow for a smooth storyline, and many of the historic events are glossed over quickly. Overall, i think i would have rather read the full version than listened to the abridged. I am bias however, mostly preferring full listens.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phil Rochester, NY, USA 12-02-08
    Phil Rochester, NY, USA 12-02-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Insight into presidential decision making"

    Doris Kearns Goodwin shows a magnificant analysis of how Abraham Lincoln worked with his cabinet to get us from a point of disunion to a point of "with malice towards none and charity for all." By choosing his rivals from within his own political party (Republican - Chase, Seward, and Bates) to choosing a rival from the other political party (Democrats - Stanton), Lincoln was able to inspire loyalty and a sense of purpose in others in spite of some very strong differences early on. Barack Obama has read this book and guided him in choosing a Republican (Gates rhymes with Bates) and his strongest intra party rival (Hillary) to serve on his cabinet.

    Family concerns were also presented by Goodwin so we saw a well rounded view of what many historians have called "our greatest president."

    You will enjoy the machinations of Lincoln as he staved off resignations by cabinet members until he finally accepted one for good cause.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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