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Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  129,842 ratings  ·  6,490 reviews
Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Abraham 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 waited in their hometow
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…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)

Community Reviews

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4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  129,842 ratings  ·  6,490 reviews

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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,
Jul 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
As a history lover, I'm a bit of a snob. While everyone is rushing to purchase the newest warm-milk entry from David McCullough, I make a show of purchasing turgid, poorly edited treatises put out by university presses about some guy who did something long ago that doesn't really matter anymore. Of course, as every snob eventually learns, being snobbish is like slamming a hammer down on your thumb: you only hurt yourself; and everyone thinks you're an idiot.

When it was published, Team of Rivals
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
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
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 the
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
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.”
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Yesssss! I did it y'all! This is an accomplishment. This book is dense but incredible and worth it. If you set one 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. Full review to come...stay tuned! ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
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
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
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
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
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.

Jan 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
As usual, I seem to be pushing against the river. All the reviews are 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 milling the grain into flour
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
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
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
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
Oct 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Mahlon by: Lincoln coverage on TV
Shelves: read-2009
Most readers would question the need for another Lincoln Biography at this point. After 200 years and numerous Biographies, is there anything new to learn about the man? In Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin answers that question with a resounding yes. Her focus is mainly on Lincoln as political operator. She explores this theme by looking at Lincoln through the eyes of his three greatest political rivals(and later cabinet members) William Seward, Salmon Chase, and Edward Bates. Goodwin begins ...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
RM(Alwaysdaddygirl) Griffin (alwaysdaddyprincess)
5 Stars. This is well researched. I hope to do a review before this year ends.
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.

Dec 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I, like many young people, was often frustrated by history class. No matter what how hard I worked, or how much I studied we always seemed to run out of time to cover the really interesting parts of history, and I always felt short changed.

Few time periods frustrated me as much as the Civil War. We would spend weeks going over Manasses, and Shiloh and Sherman's march and I invariably felt that something was missing. Was it really just General v.s. General? What was Lincoln doing that made him so
If you’ve ever asked yourself, Abraham Lincoln, what is with that guy? This is the book for you.

The answer to that question is both simple and complex. It’s complex because all people are complex, and the political landscape that Lincoln navigated–although lacking 24 hour news cycles, talking heads, and loudmouthed pundits–was nevertheless a treacherous and multi-faceted one. Team of Rivals is in large part Doris Kearns Goodwin’s attempt to illustrate just exactly how it was that he navigated th
Larry Bassett
It might be something of an overstatement to say that I “lusted after” wanting to read this book. But maybe not by much. I have wanted to read it since shortly after it was published in 2005 so it took me nearly ten years to get around to it. And part of the reason I finally read it is because several months ago I got an iPhone and could finally synchronize listening to the audio and reading the eBook. This is a thick book, something that I do not generally do that well. Long books wear me out. ...more
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
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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 ...more
“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.” 26 likes
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