Team of Rivals

Team of Rivals

The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

Book - 2005
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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 waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry.

Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war. That Lincoln succeeded, Goodwin demonstrates, was the result of a character that had been forged by experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.

It was this capacity that enabled Lincoln as president to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the war.

We view the long, horrifying struggle from the vantage of the White House as Lincoln copes with incompetent generals, hostile congressmen, and his raucous cabinet. He overcomes these obstacles by winning the respect of his former competitors, and in the case of Seward, finds a loyal and crucial friend to see him through.

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.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, c2005
ISBN: 9780684824901
Characteristics: xix, 916 p., [32] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm


From Library Staff

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.

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Jan 12, 2019

This author took me from a person that dreaded learning about history to someone that couldn't wait to learn more. The writing is brilliant, and as long as the book is, it never felt daunting. It's a hard one to put down once you start. Highly recommend, as it's currently my favorite book.

May 09, 2016

I feel like I know Lincoln on a more personal level after reading this book. His sense of humor, his story telling abilities and his steadfast sense of duty to save the Union and bring it back together. The enormity of the responsibility and the sadness that came with the Civil War must have been tremendous. He endured until it was over. His trips to the fronts were daring and legendary. If I could meet any American from history it would be Lincoln. The reconstruction would have gone much better had he lived and that's what occurred to me after reading the book.

Dec 08, 2015

This book give a complete picture of Lincoln as he campaigned and as president, as well as of his rivals. Goodwin illustrates the genius and humanity of Lincoln as I never knew it - he is larger than his legend and much more complex.

fergusonfan Jul 16, 2014

Probably one of the best multiple biographies out there. The book explores the conflicting views of the members of Lincoln's cabinet. This book was the basis for the Steven Spielberg movie Lincoln. I have read the book twice and then watched the movie. The book, although lengthy, was well worth the time.

mfleesak May 10, 2014

Great book. I've read it 3 times. It works on so many levels. It's an historical biography of Abraham Lincoln, a book about team building and a book about politics. It makes you understand the past and that people don't change. it shows how a great man can be misunderstood and appreciated at the same time. Just a great book.

MarioEnriqueRiosPinot Oct 08, 2013

I just finished this wonderful biography. I could not put rhe book down. I picked it up quite by accident and was pleasantly surprised. I think this is my first biography of Abe and its a good introduction to his life and work. Thank you.

Feb 09, 2013

I didn't rate it because there was no point. If you want to read a good historical account of Lincoln, borrow David Herbert Donald or Gore Vidal.

Dec 04, 2012

Longer than the other Goodwin biography that I've read (No ordinary time : Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt : the home front in World War II) I think that Team of Rivals suffered a bit in having Lincoln share the stage with his rivals. While I saw value in learning about Seward (and about the political dynamo that was Thurlow Weed), I didn't think that Bates and especially the ambitious and holier-than-thou Chase added much to my understanding of Lincoln and the Civil War. I heartily enjoyed the very thorough picture of Lincoln that Goodwin presents. In school I learned about the serious and melancholy man, but I loved the many accounts of his gregarious storytelling and the background info on some of the great decisions of the war. Lincoln's assassination offers one of the great "if only" scenarios of history. How would reconstruction and reconciliation have been different under the empathetic and rational Lincoln, who didn't have a vindictive bone in his body? I felt that the beginning was too long - I didn't need that much exposition about the political road to the 1860 nomination, or about the rivals' personal history. But once the War started (about halfway through this long book) things picked up for me considerably. I'm glad that I read it.

Dec 03, 2012

The book that inspired what is sure to be an award winning movie. Put this on your 2013 reading list.

caitlinbf Nov 08, 2012


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Sep 28, 2019

…his political genius was not simply his ability to gather the best men of the country around him, but to impress upon them his own purpose, perception, and resolution at every juncture. With respect to Lincoln's cabinet, Charles Dana observed, "it was always plain that he was the master and they were the subordinates. They constantly had to yield to his will, and if he ever yielded to them it was because they convinced him that the course they advised was judicious and appropriate."

Sep 27, 2019

"Mr. Lincoln's perilous task has been to carry a rather shackle raft through the rapids, making fast the unrulier logs as he could snatch opportunity", concluded Lowell, "and the country is to be congratulated that he did not think it his duty to run straight at all hazards, but cautiously to assure himself with his setting-pole where the main current was, and keep steadily to that."


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Freebird12 Feb 12, 2012

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