Heather's Reviews > Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
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's review
Jul 08, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: read-2012, pageturners
Read from September 30 to October 23, 2012

Longer than the other Goodwin biography that I read (No ordinary time : Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt : the home front in World War II) I think that Team of Rivals suffered a bit in having Lincoln share the stage with his rivals. While I saw value in learning about Seward (and about the political dynamo that was Thurlow Weed), I didn't think that Bates and especially the ambitious and holier-than-thou Chase added much to my understanding of Lincoln and the Civil War.

I heartily enjoyed the very thorough picture of Lincoln that Goodwin presents. In school I learned about the serious and melancholy man, but I loved the many accounts of his gregarious storytelling and the background info on some of the great decisions of the war. Lincoln's assassination offers one of the great "if only" scenarios of history. How would reconstruction and reconciliation have been different under the empathetic and rational Lincoln, who didn't have a vindictive bone in his body?

I felt that the beginning was too long - I didn't need that much exposition about the political road to the 1860 nomination, or about the rivals' personal history. But once the War started (about halfway through this long book) things picked up for me considerably. I'm glad that I read it.


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Reading Progress

10/06/2012 page 111
11.0% "The introductions of the four rivals is slow going. At this point, I care mostly about Lincoln and his portions are a bit scanty. I expect that I just need to keep going and I'll care about these others sooner or later..."
10/07/2012 page 185
19.0% "There's more general history and sections about Lincoln, and I'm happier about Seward and Bates, but I'm starting to actively dislike Salmon P. Chase."
10/14/2012 page 312
33.0% "Making progress. I hope it will speed up now that Lincoln is President."
10/22/2012 page 661
70.0% "Getting there. I hope to finish up tomorrow to be done in time for the group on Tuesday."
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