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

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
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Sep 03, 12

bookshelves: biographies
Read in October, 2011

The 1860 Republican presidential primary race pitted three prominent candidates against one unlikely "rail-splitter", Abraham Lincoln, from Illinois. The leading contenders were William Seward, distinguished Senator from New, the front-runner, followed by Governor Salmon Chase of Ohio, and Judge Edward Bate of St. Louis Missouri. As the world has come to know, Abraham Lincoln won the nomination and went on to become President of the United States. Team of Rivals depicts events from the early years of the four candidate, showing how each, through his efforts rose to prominence. The theme of the book details how, upon becoming President, Lincoln skillfully brought his three rivals, together with men from diverse paths, into his cabinet. Each man was brilliant in his own way and was well suited to the cabinet position he filled. Each had powerful personality and espoused diverse views on how the nation should be governed. It was truly a "Team of Rivals". Lincoln, realizing each man's brilliance and capacities, carefully molded together an administration which was capable of steering the nation through the perilous times ahead. Scarcely had Lincoln been inaugurated when the South fired on Fort Sumpter and the Civil War began. Lincoln was the man for the time, and his abilities came to the fore: (1) He was highly intellectual and forward thinking; (2) He had tremendous political savvy and knew how to read men and how to tap into the sentiments of the people; (3) He had great patience and knew to await the right time for implementation of a new idea or program. He was not rash. His political sense of timing was uncanny; (4) Though overwhelmed with work and the savagery of the war, he knew how to relax at the theater and to engage others in conversation with storytelling and quoting Shakespeare and the humorists of the day; (5) Notwithstanding all of these qualities, perhaps his greatest attribute was his magnanimity; he simply did not hold grudges against others who had maligned or excoriated him. Often, he would appoint such persons to a prominent position where there talents could be best utilized. He had a tremendous ability to forgive and forget. At his death, Lincoln's Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, remarked, "Now he belongs to the ages." The book was well researched and written. It is a must read.
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message 1: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Glad to hear I picked a good Father's day present!! I might have to borrow this the next time I come up.

King Excellant summation of the book content. The bottom line I took from this well written book was that Lincoln rather miraculously won the Republican Nomination (One example: if the convention hadn't been held in Chicago he would most likely never been nominated), but also he was likely the only individual in the country that had the leadership skills enumerated above to lead the country to victory as a Union.

My criticism is that Goodwin as a secular historian down plays Lincoln's very religious nature and his dependance upon God to help him through that perilous time

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