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

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
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Apr 01, 08

Read in March, 2008

Ever since going to Officer Canidate School in Alabama, I've had a profound desire to learn more about the Civil War, and Abraham Lincoln in particular. Having grown up in the West, I was shocked by all the animosity exihibited towards Lincoln by my Southern neighbors. This book, more than any other I've read so far, brings Lincoln's genius and character to life in such a way that arguments against him look mostly foolish.

Politicians are often disparaged for their self-serving ambition coupled with their unadulterated egotism. Lincoln, on the other hand, while having no lack of ambition, is exceptional for his lack of ego. He held no grudges, and let reason and facts govern his decision making whenever possible. As the title of the book suggests, Lincoln turned his rivals into a team of truly effective leaders, and eventually into some of his closest friends.

I couldn't help but compare Lincoln's team to Bush's team, and imagine what a similar book about Bush would look like...One title that came to mind after watching Bush's War on PBS was... 'Team of Yes-Men; How Cheney Took Over the White House.'
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Brayden That PBS series was really interesting huh? Bush's handling of the war, if it weren't so political, would be a perfect case of information mismanagement to be taught in a business school.


Dustin Allison What really amazes me is how truly clueless our country's leadership can be. I think a lot of us make ourselves feel better by believing that those in power know so much more than we do while also possessing abilities far exceeding our own. Some even go so far as endow our leaders with powers to wage mass conspiracies for their own ends.

After reading about Lincoln, and gaining insights into our current President, I'm convinced that effective leadership in stressful times is exceedingly rare. More imporantly, what kind of traits should we be looking for in a prospective leader that would point to that kind of leadership ability? For me, any prospective leader would have to at least have the confidence and intellectual fortitude to listen to all kinds of differing prospectives.

When it comes to Iraq, Bush allowed for only one prospective--that it was in our vital interests to take out Saddam. And worse than that, he let only one prospective, Rumsfield via Cheney, govern how we would fight that war.

And I wanted to throw something at the T.V. the other night while watching 60 Minutes when Feif said Rumsfield had a strongly held belief to not try and perdict the future.

Holy crap! Wasn't the whole basis for going to Iraq founded on the perdiction that Saddam would be a threat to America's security in the future? Oh, and does that mean we shouldn't plan and strategize for the worse possible scenarios while invading another country?


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