Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

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Book Rating (185)

Narrator Rating (14)

Written By: Doris Kearns Goodwin

Narrated By: Richard Thomas

Date: October 2005

Duration: 9 hours 28 minutes


Winner of the Lincoln Prize

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 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.


  • Anonymous

    This is an excellent insight into one of the most written about leaders. While much of the basic story is familiar, it was the background into Lincoln's election, and the insight into how he choose cabinet members from among those running against him, and then how the strengths and personality traits of those men all contributed toward the civil war, the leadership of the country and the ultimate end of the war. The author included stories that gave a more personal view of Lincoln, his family and cabinet. There are lessons to be learned from the thought, deliberation and even approach Lincoln took toward everything. I'll be recommending this to friends (already purchased a hard copy for my father!).

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful.

  • Quincy Williams

    You don't have to be a civil war expert to follow the storyline. It gives great detail into the whole cabinet and how Lincoln played puppeteer to keep such an odd group together. Well written and educational. Be warned that the book is quite long (+9 hrs.), but flows smoothly from the Republican convention through his assassination.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful.

  • Anonymous

    this is a great book. I was totally engrossed in all of the fascinating stories of these men and women during this most important era. Highly recommended

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful.

  • Drew

    While many books on the Civil War focus on the battles and strategy, not many focus as strongly on the politics as this one. An excellent book whose only weakness is too much passion for the greatness of the Lincoln presidency and not enough balance on some of his shortcomings. From the start, the book covers the genius of Lincoln's chosen inner circle from William Seward to Salmon Chase. It shows how Lincoln navigated the dangerous waters of bringing strong wills into his cabinet and then utilizing their insight and intelligence to help keep the Union together. Richard "John Boy" Thomas does an excellent reading of the book. My only disappointment is that this is an abridged version. An excellent source of political history from a quality writer.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful.

  • alex1432

    Great read one can only wish these kinds of people were still around in our current government.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Anonymous

    slow starting but then it pulled me in. Low rating because it is the edited version and I would prefer to have had the opportunity to hear it all.

  • Joe

    An excellent book that paints a great picture of Abraham Lincoln and his Cabinet. The author does a wonderful job of bringing these historical figures to life. It is easy to understand how Lincoln was one of the greatest figures in history as a man of the people.

  • Shelly

    This book is a little slow paced. I think the author wasted more time than necessary with historical references and quotes, all of which got in the way of the endearing, human qualities that made this story worth telling. The Cabinet members who constituted the Team of Rivals, along with all other important characters in Lincoln's life, were reduced to stick figures. The only reason I finished reading this book is because I'm a history lover. If you're not, I wouldn't recommend it for recreational reading.

  • Anonymous

    This book was a captivating and extremely informative, emotionally alive portrait of a complex man and the difficult personalities, issues and historical events he led the United States through during his Presidency. Not only was it a detailed, insightful description of President Lincoln's own incredible personal and political acumen, it was a fascinating description of the complex personalities he was surrounded with and dealing with. I found the book riveting, historically eye opening, relevant to our present life and one which had a profound personal impact on me.

  • Anthony Smith

    Very well told and an interesting perspective. I personally wish Doris Goodwin had narrated the whole thing. I'd recommend the unabridged version - it seemed a lot was cut out.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

by Doris Kearns Goodwin

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Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Doris Kearns Goodwin
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