Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
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This brilliant multiple biography is centered on Lincoln's mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation's history.
- Amazon Sales Rank: #1064 in Books
- Published on: 2006-09-26
- Original language: English
- Number of items: 1
- Dimensions: 9.10" h x 1.70" w x 6.10" l,
- Binding: Paperback
- 944 pages
- ISBN13: 9780743270755
- Condition: New
- Notes: BRAND NEW FROM PUBLISHER! BUY WITH CONFIDENCE, Over one million books sold! 98% Positive feedback. Compare our books, prices and service to the competition. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed
The life and times of Abraham Lincoln have been analyzed and dissected in countless books. Do we need another Lincoln biography? In Team of Rivals, esteemed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin proves that we do. Though she can't help but cover some familiar territory, her perspective is focused enough to offer fresh insights into Lincoln's leadership style and his deep understanding of human behavior and motivation. Goodwin makes the case for Lincoln's political genius by examining his relationships with three men he selected for his cabinet, all of whom were opponents for the Republican nomination in 1860: William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward Bates. These men, all accomplished, nationally known, and presidential, originally disdained Lincoln for his backwoods upbringing and lack of experience, and were shocked and humiliated at losing to this relatively obscure Illinois lawyer. Yet Lincoln not only convinced them to join his administration--Seward as secretary of state, Chase as secretary of the treasury, and Bates as attorney general--he ultimately gained their admiration and respect as well. How he soothed egos, turned rivals into allies, and dealt with many challenges to his leadership, all for the sake of the greater good, is largely what Goodwin's fine book is about. Had he not possessed the wisdom and confidence to select and work with the best people, she argues, he could not have led the nation through one of its darkest periods.
Ten years in the making, this engaging work reveals why "Lincoln's road to success was longer, more tortuous, and far less likely" than the other men, and why, when opportunity beckoned, Lincoln was "the best prepared to answer the call." This multiple biography further provides valuable background and insights into the contributions and talents of Seward, Chase, and Bates. Lincoln may have been "the indispensable ingredient of the Civil War," but these three men were invaluable to Lincoln and they played key roles in keeping the nation intact. --Shawn Carkonen
The Team of Rivals
|Team of Rivals doesn't just tell the story of Abraham Lincoln. It is a multiple biography of the entire team of personal and political competitors that he put together to lead the country through its greatest crisis. Here, Doris Kearns Goodwin profiles five of the key players in her book, four of whom contended for the 1860 Republican presidential nomination and all of whom later worked together in Lincoln's cabinet.|
|1. Edwin M. Stanton|
Stanton treated Lincoln with utter contempt at their initial acquaintance when the two men were involved in a celebrated law case in the summer of 1855. Unimaginable as it might seem after Stanton's demeaning behavior, Lincoln offered him "the most powerful civilian post within his gift"--the post of secretary of war--at their next encounter six years later. On his first day in office as Simon Cameron's replacement, the energetic, hardworking Stanton instituted "an entirely new regime" in the War Department. After nearly a year of disappointment with Cameron, Lincoln had found in Stanton the leader the War Department desperately needed. Lincoln's choice of Stanton revealed his singular ability to transcend personal vendetta, humiliation, or bitterness. As for Stanton, despite his initial contempt for the man he once described as a "long armed Ape," he not only accepted the offer but came to respect and love Lincoln more than any person outside of his immediate family. He was beside himself with grief for weeks after the president's death.
2. Salmon P. Chase
3. Abraham Lincoln
4. William H. Seward
5. Edward Bates
The Essential Doris Kearns Goodwin
Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir
No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II
Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream
More New Reading on the Civil War
Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness by Joshua Wolf Shenk
Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War by Charles Bracelen Flood
The March: A Novel by E.L. Doctorow
From Publishers Weekly
Pulitzer Prize–winner Goodwin (No Ordinary Time) seeks to illuminate what she interprets as a miraculous event: Lincoln's smooth (and, in her view, rather sudden) transition from underwhelming one-term congressman and prairie lawyer to robust chief executive during a time of crisis. Goodwin marvels at Lincoln's ability to co-opt three better-born, better-educated rivals—each of whom had challenged Lincoln for the 1860 Republican nomination. The three were New York senator William H. Seward, who became secretary of state; Ohio senator Salmon P. Chase, who signed on as secretary of the treasury and later was nominated by Lincoln to be chief justice of the Supreme Court; and Missouri's "distinguished elder statesman" Edward Bates, who served as attorney general. This is the "team of rivals" Goodwin's title refers to.The problem with this interpretation is that the metamorphosis of Lincoln to Machiavellian master of men that Goodwin presupposes did not in fact occur overnight only as he approached the grim reality of his presidency. The press had labeled candidate Lincoln "a fourth-rate lecturer, who cannot speak good grammar." But East Coast railroad executives, who had long employed Lincoln at huge prices to defend their interests as attorney and lobbyist, knew better. Lincoln was a shrewd political operator and insider long before he entered the White House—a fact Goodwin underplays. On another front, Goodwin's spotlighting of the president's three former rivals tends to undercut that Lincoln's most essential Cabinet-level contacts were not with Seward, Chase and Bates, but rather with secretaries of war Simon Cameron and Edwin Stanton, and Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles. These criticisms aside, Goodwin supplies capable biographies of the gentlemen on whom she has chosen to focus, and ably highlights the sometimes tangled dynamics of their "team" within the larger assemblage of Lincoln's full war cabinet.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Critics generally agree that Goodwin's 10-year project on Honest Abe paid off. Many lauded the well-rounded, intimate, and admiring portrait she paints of our 16th president by weaving some good old-fashioned storytelling with the hard facts. Abe's cabinet members, Seward in particular, also receive their due. Despite the more than 100 pages of footnotes that chronicle Goodwin's impressive primary research, a few critics found the book redundant, its first third difficult to read, and Lincoln's stand on race nearly ignored. Overall, however, most reviewers found Team of Rivals remarkably resonant today, given the young Lincoln's brash attacks on President Polk, who he claimed pushed the country into the needless Mexican War. For an inside look at Abe's political genius, Goodwin's work is a good place to start.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
Most helpful customer reviews
356 of 363 people found the following review helpful.
It's like hanging out with Lincoln
By Richard E. Hourula
I feel I'm being somewhat presumptuous adding this, the 246th review to date of Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals" but I have my two cents and aim to chuck it in. My perspective is not only that of an avid reader and student of US History, but as a teacher of it. From any standpoint I can most unequivocally add my endorsement of this masterful work.
I did not feel so much as I read about Abraham Lincoln as hung out with him and to a slightly lesser extent his cabinet. For one thing the book is long ( I was glad for every page and could have gladly read several dozen more) and for another it is rich with details of the time, events and mostly the people -- particularly, of course old Honest Abe himself.
I recently heard a professor of U.S. history with 20 years of service at a leading university and several books to her credit, assert that it is a misnomer to credit Lincoln with freeing the slaves. Granted, Lincoln did not walk unto plantations and swing open the gates, but his contributions to full emancipation are second to no other single person. Likewise it is he to whom the overwhelming credit must be granted for keeping the country whole in the face of secession and civil war.
And while there is little argument in my mind as to Lincoln's accomplishments as 16th president, there is absolutely no arguing about the manner in which he went about his duties. Finding a president who was more thoughtful or articulate a writer, more persuasive or eloquent a speaker or more compassionate a human being would be a futile task.
Rising from humble origins with nothing much to speak of in the way of a formal education, Lincoln managed to become a successful lawyer and a passionate well-regarded opponent of slavery. That he parlayed his speaking talents and a single brief term in public office to become the first successful Republican president is a remarkable story best told by Goodwin. Speaking of stories...Lincoln was a master at regaling audiences both large and small and Goodwin herself is superb at relating to the reader Lincoln's gift. This is a crucial gift in understanding Lincoln and his talent at governing.
In addition to a thorough Lincoln introduction, Goodwin presents for our consideration his rivals for the presidency who would, not coincidentally, later form his cabinet. William Seward of New York who became Lincoln's Secretary of State, was my personal favorite, while Ohio's Salmon Chase, Treasury Secretary, was someone I never warmed up to as he continued machinations against Lincoln until the end of his term. Readers will also become acquainted with secretaries Edwin Stanton and Edward Bates, along with other important government officials, various generals, Lincoln's family and friends.
The hook on which Goodwin hangs her account of the Lincoln presidency is his eager use of those rivals and how shrewd politically he was to make them the center of his governing circle. But this was not merely politically adroit, Lincoln also recognized he had brought in the most able minds of the time to serve him and thus the country at its most vulnerable point I (a far cry from recent political leaders who surround themselves with like-minded loyalists).
Readers can expect to have their understanding of Lincoln greatly enriched whether they agree or not with all aspects of Goodwin's interpretation of the man. They will also develop a keener appreciation for the era prior to the Civil War and the war itself. Mostly they will have the great pleasure of spending time in Lincoln's Springfield home and the White House of his tenure.
As a history teacher reading "Team of Rivals" has left me feeling better equipped to tell my students Lincoln's story and thus the story of our country at it's most decisive moments.
269 of 282 people found the following review helpful.
The Lincoln Cabinet: A Character Study
By Jon Linden
Ms. Goodwin has created a gem of a masterpiece with her most recent book on Lincoln. In the millions of pages already written on the subject, there are no books that I know of that do in essence, a character study on Lincoln and his cabinet members. The 754 page text is one of the best ever written regarding the true and underlying nature of those men who served with Lincoln in his cabinet.
While events and persons such as Antietam, Jefferson Davis, Fort Sumter, Maryland's secession attempt and many other events receive short shrift from Ms. Goodwin, this treatment is as it should be for her book concentrates on the personality and character of Lincoln and his cabinet.
While Lincoln never committed himself during the convention to any of his rivals in terms of cabinet positions, to gain votes for his eventual nomination; he voluntarily chose most of his cabinet from men who were his greatest rivals for the Presidency. He did this with clear and present knowledge that they were the best men for the jobs and the country at the time. The incredibly impressive exposition of the character of these men and especially that of Abraham Lincoln and his political and personal acumen in holding them together is given new life in this book.
Through careful reading and perusal of literally thousands of personal letters from cabinet members and from President Lincoln, Goodwin is able to put together a wonderfully clear and unique picture of the character of these men. In addition, she is able to paint a picture of each in words, and point out how their true character differed often from the public perception that abounded.
Ms. Goodwin should be noted for her fine and excruciating work in creating this book which will remain as a must read classic for Lincoln scholars of the present and the future. All of us who track the Lincoln Presidency, 140 years after its termination are grateful for her assiduous work in creating this wonderful book.
170 of 191 people found the following review helpful.
Terrific read on Lincoln's handling of people, politics and the prosecution of war
By Shawn S. Sullivan
Doris Kearns Goodwin delivers and delivers well with "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln". The scope of her work is Lincoln's inner circle of Seward, Stanton, Chase and Bates but, more broadly, his ability to handle people and politics. Goodwin vividedly demonstrates Lincoln's uncanny timing regarding the implementation of emancipation and gives a fair assessment of his views regarding the "peculiar institution". This book is about Lincoln as a leader, a manager and a politician. It is also about his evolving vision about certain topics (i.e, how to handle slaves once freed) and his steadfast desire to hold the Union together, literally at all costs. His belief in the precepts of the Founding Fathers is at all times present.
For those wishing an expansive biography on Lincoln, try Lincoln by David Herbert Donald. For those wishing a broader view on the period and the Civil War, Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson. For those who would like a good but accurate piece of historical fiction, Lincoln by Gore Vidal or Freedom by William Safire.
This book is for those who want to see how Abe Lincoln led, managed, formulated stategy, handled very conflicting opinions, this is the book. A great read, if a bit choppy (perhaps a given with the nature of the subject matter).