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 was the result of a character that had been forged by life experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because hepossessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.
This capacity enabled President Lincoln to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to preserve the Union and win the war.
©2006 Doris Kearns Goodwin (P)2011 Simon & Schuster
"An elegant, incisive study....Goodwin has brilliantly described how Lincoln forged a team that preserved a nation and freed America from the curse of slavery." (James M. McPherson, The New York Times Book Review)
"Goodwin's narrative abilities...are on full display here, and she does an enthralling job of dramatizing...crucial moments in Lincoln's life....A portrait of Lincoln as a virtuosic politician and managerial genius." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)
"Splendid, beautifully written....Goodwin has brilliantly woven scores of contemporary accounts...into a fluid narrative....This is the most richly detailed account of the Civil War presidency to appear in many years." (John Rhodehamel, Los Angeles Times)
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!
So this is a long book (41 hours) and I listened almost incessantly the last week. In contrast with a recent book about Churchill which felt like a chore and took me months to get through, I found this very engaging. It was interesting to get the different perspectives and comparisons with Lincoln's associates. I would right peers, but the man was peerless. After listening to this I am thinking of getting the audio book of Lincoln's debates with Douglas. His word choice was so specific and reasoned arguments are something to learn from. If I could demonstrate his level of empathy and thoughtfulness I would be better for it.
The 1st part where you are taken through the background of the cabinet members is a boring but necessary trip. Once past this the book does not fail to please. You gain a lot of respect for this President.
I am an eclectic person who loves to learn.
I could listen to this book over and over and never tire of the subject. It so very well written,researched, and read. Absolutely a stunning look into the time of Lincoln. I will never look at President Lincoln the same way again. This story is so important to being an American.
The film was already made of only a part of the book. Another movie could easily be made about Lincoln's journey to becoming President. This movie would not need a tag line. Lincoln's name is strong enough to attract an audience.
We need to learn how to use teams of rivals in our work today. It is a skill true leaders must aspire to.
Situation after situation demonstrates what it means to have an internal moral compass.
This book would generate excellent discussions if read in a book club or book group.
Ms Goodwin is brilliant in including the stories of the Rivals along with Lincoln's. It was fascinating to learn of the lives and times of some of the most important people in and near our government at that critical time, as well as the various schools of thought. The book brought to the fore Abraham Lincoln's genius and greatness. Ms Toren's voice was a pleasure to hear. My life is enriched for having listened to this book. I will now buy the hard copy (which I wish I had while listening) to peruse from time to time.
S Toren's voice is sophisticated and most pleasing - I looked forward to hearing it as I do certain pieces of music, She is facile in her pronunciation of complicated or unusual words including French. Her voice changes in tempo, softness/loudness to fit what she is reading.
This book was too long to listen to in one sitting - although very had to put down. I listened to it at every opportunity and was sad when it ended.
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