Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

Written by:
Doris Kearns Goodwin
Narrated by:
Richard Thomas

Abridged Audiobook

Ratings
Book
189
Narrator
14
Release Date
October 2005
Duration
9 hours 28 minutes
Summary
One of the most influential books of the past fifty years, Team of Rivals is Pulitzer Prize–winning author and esteemed presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s modern classic about the political genius of Abraham Lincoln, his unlikely presidency, and his cabinet of former political foes.

Winner of the prestigious Lincoln Prize and the inspiration for the Oscar Award winning–film Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Tony Kushner.

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.
Reviews
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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!).

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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.

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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

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.

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alex1432

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!).

Profile Avatar
Tom Ostapiej

A great book of how a President managed the position, the cabinet, and the office. Should be a required reading for those who occupy or want to occupy that position.

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Anonymous

My favorite kind of book - one that is thoroughly enjoyable to read/listen to and that teaches me something. I wish all history could be taught in this way -

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Anonymous

This is a very good historical account of Lincolns politic career. For me, it got a little too much into the details at times, but I tend to like fewer details. Overall, it was a good book, especially for anyone who likes Lincoln history or American history.

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Anonymous

Terrific book. Extremely well written and it was fun to listen too. I immediately ordered another book from this author.

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Richard White

Another fine book narrated by Richard Thomas, it highlights the political acumen of Lincoln and shows how he truly was one of our great presidents. Excellent in all respects , narration , pace and content a real pleasure to listen to with insights that you may not have considered.

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Zubin M.

Well written and read. Anyone with an interest in history will enjoy this story. DKG has a genuine knack for turning history into compelling stories.

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Anonymous

Nicely done. I enjoyed learning about the inner workings of Lincoln's cabinet, and now have a better insight into just how capable Lincoln really was. I can't imagine anyone who likes history not being satisfied with this selection.

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Bob Luder

This was a very well written book by Ms. Kearns Goodwin, and was quite entertaining. However, it did not focus on Lincoln's relationships with the rival members of his cabinet as much as I expected it to. The first part of the book did focus on those relationships, and particularly on Lincoln's interactions with Seward, Chase and Bates. Approximately the last half of the book was more about Lincoln himself and historical developments of the Civil War, however. Overall I would recommend it to a friend.

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Tolan Brown

I loved this book and found the parallels with our current government fascinating. It was interesting to me that while the North was on the verge of winning the Civil War Lincoln’s democrat opponents in congress wanted to throw in the towel and bring the troops home. “This war is not worth another American life” they would say even on the verge of victory. I also didn’t realize just how much opposition there was in the North to the war, especially when it was going badly but even continuing after the North began to do better. The book is also a great lesson in management and leadership and reveals Lincoln’s political genius. Much like President Ronald Regan we learn that Lincoln was often underestimated by his opponents.

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Michael Herb

This exploration of Lincoln as manager of people proved truly compelling. His political skill along with his humility, intelligence, and strength of character give us greater insight into the man behind the personna. The book has many takeaways the greatest of which for me would be the attempt to emulate Lincoln in my personal life.

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RAnderson

Great story but he repeats himself alot.. Very interesting group of people. We always focus on just the President and forget that it is group of folks running the country not just one man.

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Anonymous

Hard to imagine a biographer plowing new ground with Lincoln, who has been the most written-about U.S. president. Goodwin focuses on Lincoln's ability to manage his cabinet, temper rivalries, and get what he needed from each leader in order to prosecute the Civil War. Goodwin does a good job of emphasizing Lincoln's gift of empathy, while using documents to bring to life the personalities and biases of each of the key players in Lincoln's administration -- Seward, Chase, the Blairs, McClellan and Grant.

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Anonymous

Goodwin is not my favorite historian, but this book was great.

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Anonymous

Ms. Kearns is an excellent writer who can capture very well the subtleties of men's character and their interplay. This first half of the book takes the reader through the first 11 months of Lincoln's Presidency and establishes him as a man not only of conviction but also of passion and heart-ache as he suffers through the severe illnesses of his two sons and the eventual death of the oldest. Ms. Kearns goes to great length to describe the lives of Lincoln's rivals for the Republican nomination who will also become a part of his governing team. Unfortunately, the book suffers from failing to lay out the social and political currents of the era. The reader takes away no sense of the urgent intractibility of the months leading up to and following Lincoln's election. Worse, there is no description of the politically desolute 1850's to put the Lincoln Presidency in its cultural context. Yet, I am still looking forward with pleasure to listening to the rest of the book.

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