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Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  170,033 ratings  ·  7,372 reviews
Winner of the Lincoln Prize

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 wait
Paperback, 916 pages
Published September 26th 2006 by Simon & Schuster (first published October 25th 2005)
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Hilary Shearing Am now halfway through. What a read! Saw the film 'Lincoln'. Then bought the DVD with others in a sale. Amongst the 'extras' was a fascinating piece a…moreAm now halfway through. What a read! Saw the film 'Lincoln'. Then bought the DVD with others in a sale. Amongst the 'extras' was a fascinating piece about 'the making of...' which is when I really became conscious of the book. So glad to have got a copy. Doris Kearns
Goodwin, like all the best historians, combines command of her subject with masterful storytelling. The result is an unforgettable read, and the realisation that Abraham Lincon was even more of an extraordinary human being, than I already thought him to be.(less)
Steven I usually write a review describing my personal experience. I typically avoid binary rating system (only 1 or 5 stars, no in between) If someone looks…moreI usually write a review describing my personal experience. I typically avoid binary rating system (only 1 or 5 stars, no in between) If someone looks at my ratings and reviews of previous books and finds something they agree with, then they can drawn their own conclusion if they like the same books as me.(less)

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Jul 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
“There was little to lead one to suppose that Abraham Lincoln, nervously rambling the streets of Springfield that May morning [during the Republican National Convention], who scarcely had a national reputation, certainly nothing to equal any of the other three [rivals], who had served but a single term in Congress, twice lost bids for the Senate, and had no administrative experience whatsoever, would become the greatest historical figure of the nineteenth century…”
- Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of
Dana Stabenow
Oct 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hpl-s-15-in-16
I heard Goodwin talk about this book on NPR, and she sounded like she'd been an eyewitness to the events. Sold me the book.

On June 17th--I've been a hundred pages from the end for ten days. I don't want Abe to die.

July 17th -- Okay, I finally made myself finish. Abe's dead and I'm a wreck.

In this book Goodwin puts Abraham Lincoln in the context of his peers, many of whom ran against him for the first Republican nomination for president (remember they'd just invented that party) and one of whom,
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Please forgive me resorting to a tired trick and leading off with a definition from the dictionary, but there is a point to it.)


1: a person experienced in the art or science of government; especially : one actively engaged in conducting the business of a government

2A : a person engaged in party politics as a profession

2B: a person primarily interested in political office for selfish or other narrow usually short-sighted reasons

Americans these days seem to think that 2B is the only
Feb 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I would have given this book more stars if I could have. I think I loved this book so much because Abraham Lincoln was such an absolutely amazing person. We are all taught that Lincoln was one of America's great presidents, and we know that he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, but he is so much greater of a man than I ever knew. Lincoln was super smart, wise, and incredibly compassionate and empathetic. While unsure of his own faith, Lincoln, through his own care for others, was so much more ...more
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Yesssss! I did it y'all!

This is an accomplishment. Team of Rivals is dense, not gonna lie, but incredible and so worth it.

If you set one reading goal for yourself, in your life, it should be to read this book. The writing, Lincoln's life, the goings on of the cabinet and the country ... wow, wow, wow.


Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When Rod Blagojevich was impeached and hauled off to prison, that made four of the previous seven Illinois governors to have done time. Countless representatives and aldermen have been locked up, too. Then there was my wife’s favorite: a former Secretary of State found after his death to have $800,000 stuffed in shoe boxes. Our reputation for corrupt politicians is, I dare say, unsurpassed. Fortunately, we here in the Land of Lincoln (as we call it on our license plates) have one historical figu ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
Doris Kearns Goodwin weaves a masterful tale as she follows the lives of Lincoln and his intimate circle of friends and rivals from the early 1800s, through the Civil War until the catastrophe assassination of the President in April 1865. It is a complex, but fascinating story of the political genius of Lincoln who was able to get consensus from his most bitter rivals all while holding on to his own high moral code. Particularly moving, besides the horrors of war and the cataclysmic night at the ...more
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

According to Oxford Dictionary: Team=Two or more people working together and Rival=A person or thing competing with another for the same objective or for superiority in the same field of activity.
So this oxymoron title caught my attention when I was in the final semester of my college. I bought this book out of whim with slight consideration what is written inside because I am one of those people who are crazy in love with Great Honest Abe.
Having said that let me come to the commentary on t
Jay Schutt
A Pulitzer Prize winner worthy of the award.
All of the superlative adjectives apply to this book.
A monumental effort on a monumental book.
A remarkable study of Lincoln and the people who surrounded him during his lifetime.
The saying "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer" applies throughout the book.

These are just a few of my thoughts and comments on this extraordinary book. Extensively researched and well-written, Goodwin expertly intertwined her prose with the myriad of letters, diar
Jan 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Put aside whatever you're reading now--yes, even those compelling vampire/romance books--and pick up this book. It's that good. Even though Goodwin is writing about Lincoln's cabinet, her work is eerily contemporary, given Obama's situation. Everyone but a handful of people thought Lincoln had risen too fast and was too untried to take charge of a desperate crises facing the country. Goodwin uses the main characters' diaries, letters, journals, and speeches to show how that opinion gradually cha ...more
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
A True Leader and Genius of High Moral Character

If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for other business.... If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference. Pres. Abraham Lincoln, quoted in F. B. Carpenter, The Inner Life of Abraham Lincoln: Six Months at the White House (1869).

Truly, I didn't start out
Jan 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
As usual, I seem to be pushing against the river. All the reviews on this tome are positively stellar -- to the 5th degree. My poor offering is a meagre 3.

Goodwin is an exceptional historian. Research should have been her middle name. But -- and it's quite a big one --

The book would have been vastly improved if a good editor had taken charge.

This book reads like ... you asked someone for a recipe on how to bake a cake, and she starts by telling you how to grow wheat; then walks you through mill
Although there are two books squeezed between the covers this remains readable.

The first book is an account of the competition for the Republican candidacy and the beginning of the Lincoln administration. Here is a slightly different story about the developing USA, the changing, growing country and the kinds of political careers and ambitions available to men in it. There is a very serious heavyweight argument I felt lurking in the prose that never comes to the forefront and possible never devel
David Baldacci
Nov 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the book that the film “Lincoln” is somewhat based on. President Obama has said that he looks to Lincoln as a model leader. He should. In TEAM OF RIVALS Lincoln brings genius to the adage “friends close, enemies closer.”
James Thane
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
In 1860, the fledgling Republican Party nominated its second candidate for the Presidency of the United States. Four men competed for the honor: William Seward, a U.S. Senator, former governor of New York and one of the most honored and experienced politicians of his day; Edward Bates, a former congressman from Missouri; Salmon P. Chase, a former U.S. Senator and former governor of Ohio who had played a significant role in founding the party; and Abraham Lincoln, until very recently a little-kno ...more
Otis Chandler
I loved this book. Although it was a beast of a book, and could probably have been a lot shorter. I had not read a Lincoln biography before, so was firstly blown away by how he rose up from nothing, self-taught himself a college degree, and then somehow rode the middle line and got himself elected President. Nobody seemed to have expected that, nor expected much from him, and he continued to surprise them all.

I am always curious about the motivations of successful people. In Lincolns case, he ju
Jun 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sydney by: Book review
Biographies aren't always boring tomes. Doris Kearns Goodwin does a magnificent job of detailing how Abraham Lincoln, a lesser known and ill-positioned candidate captures the Republican party's nomination, goes on to get elected President, and leads America through the tumult of the Civil War.

While most of us know Lincoln as "honest Abe" and the President who emancipated slaves, Kearns-Goodwin offers a portrait of a man who took many of the men who'd he'd beaten out as the republican nominee int
Betsy Robinson
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful nuanced book that resonates mightily with and informs what is going on today. Read it if you want to understand any kind of historical basis for what is now happening in the U.S. Read it if you love the minutia of history—every conversation ever recorded during the Lincoln period, every permutation and convolution of the Civil War, the complex emotional motivations behind the factions (a lot of people fought more for preservation of the union than out of any conviction about ...more
Laura Noggle
Solid 4 Stars: Intricate details spin an illuminating web around this historical colossus.

We all know about Lincoln, one of the greatest presidents ever, and are well versed in the legend and legacy of Lincoln — but what about the man behind the public persona?

This book pulls back the curtain and humanizes Lincoln, brining him to life through the wide array of lives closest to him, providing a fresh view of his vivid personality, strength of character, and unflagging belief in his country.

Jul 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
DKG is a genius. No other words needed.
Jan 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Cindy by: Dad
(I thought it would make sense to start this while I'm still reading Gone With the Wind.)

This isn't a straight-up biography of Lincoln. And it's certainly not a history of the Civil War. Instead it's a portrait of Lincoln, defined by the diverse men he surrounded himself with on his Cabinet. In particular, Goodwin focuses on the 4 major contenders in the Republican national convention: Lincoln, Seward, Chase and Bates. The better part of the book takes place leading up to Lincoln's 1860 election
Laura Leaney
Nov 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I don't read enough non-fiction.

Like a lot of people, I'm sure, I thought I knew enough about Abraham Lincoln that a book on his presidency wouldn't hold my interest as much as a novel might. Happily, I was wrong, and this book gave me a profound sense of appreciation for the ol' "rail-splitter" and a renewed sense of pride in America's history (a feeling that's been somewhat battered of late).

It took Doris Kearns Goodwin ten years to write the book, and no wonder. Her list of primary sources
Barnabas Piper
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book (or listening on Audible in my case) is a labor of love - it is detailed, intricate and long. But wow, is it incredible. The way DKG weaves together the stories of a ll Lincoln's cabinet members personally and politically and explains their respective roles in American history is astounding. I've never learned so much American history from a single book and enjoyed it along the way.

I have also never respected Abraham Lincoln as much as I do after reading this. He truly was an
RM(Alwaysdaddygirl) Griffin (alwaysdaddyprincess)
5 Stars. This is well researched. I hope to do a review before this year ends.
ETA: Lincoln's death in 1865 is covered, but not in detail. I will now read "They Have Killed Papa Dead!": The Road to Ford's Theatre, Abraham Lincoln's Murder, and the Rage for Vengeance

I think the book IS good. But Lincoln was much more of a shrewd politician than an honest, moral individual and a fun loving storyteller. I did come to admire him. With talent he got people of opposing views to work together toward a common goal. This was no small accomplishment. His lack of malice is exceptiona
May 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing

“Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” is, by almost any measure, the most popular biography of Abraham Lincoln. Written by Doris Kearns Goodwin, “Team of Rivals” has been widely read and revered since its publication in 2005. Goodwin is a Pulitzer-Prize winning author and historian who has also written notable biographies of Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

Karen Canova
May 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've always thought Abraham Lincoln was the greatest president in U.S. history, and now, after reading Team of Rivals, I'm convinced of that. His political genius allowed him to harness the talents and tame the “lesser angels” among his many rivals – the political and social cream of the crop in the 1840s-50s. This very humble, self-deprecating man, who lacked formal education and experienced so much sorrow early in life, was pitted against tough competition his entire life -- part of his greatn ...more
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I've read a lot of Civil War-era books, and inevitably whenever Lincoln shows up in them it ends up being the best part of the book. Just about everything he said and did was so kind, smart, funny, wise, and engaging that it makes you want to know him personally. What made Ron Chernow's Grant so great wasn't just that the writing was so good and that Grant lived such an interesting life, but that Lincoln kept popping in and stealing the show.

I've read several books about his assassination, a boo
Bryan Alkire
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Mediocre history. I really wanted to like this one, but, ended up very disappointed with this reread. I originally read this as an abridged audiocassette back in 2007 or 2008. While I’ve never liked abridgements, it was a blessing when it came to this book as it got to the point and stayed there. The full text is just awful. The idea was interesting, but the writing killed the idea. Ostensibly this book is about Lincoln’s political genius and it shows up at times. But, this book really can’t dec ...more
Dec 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Carol by: Patty Johnson
Team of Rivals was a big undertaking for me at over 750 pages. What a treasure of a book. I had the feeling that you get with a good piece of fiction where you hate for the book to end. I felt like I was there, that I knew Lincoln. What a marvelous man, a moral man, a patient man. There were lessons between the covers of this book I would feel comfortable including in a talk in church. I have read other books about Lincoln and other books about the civil war, but to see Lincoln through the eyes ...more
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DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN’s interest in leadership began more than half a century ago as a professor at Harvard. Her experiences working for LBJ in the White House and later assisting him on his memoirs led to her bestselling "Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream." She followed up with the Pulitzer Prize–winning "No Ordinary Time: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II." She earn ...more

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In Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin's latest book, Leadership: In Turbulent Times, she draws upon...
91 likes · 53 comments
“Washington was a typical American. Napoleon was a typical Frenchman, but Lincoln was a humanitarian as broad as the world. He was bigger than his country - bigger than all the Presidents together.

We are still too near to his greatness,' (Leo) Tolstoy (in 1908) concluded, 'but after a few centuries more our posterity will find him considerably bigger than we do. His genius is still too strong and powerful for the common understanding, just as the sun is too hot when its light beams directly on us.' (748)”
“An adult friend of Lincoln's: "Life was to him a school.” 32 likes
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