Review: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln


Title: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Author: Doris Kearns Goodwin
Started: 11/30/09
Finished:  1/15/10
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Jon’s Summary: If you ever decide to read a book on Abe Lincoln, you should probably read this one. Why? Well because about halfway through the book I realized that it read more like fiction than history. You really feel connected to historical figures that died over a hundred years ago due to Goodwin’s writing style. And even though you know that the book will come to an abrupt stop on April 15, 1865, you still hope things may turn out differently!

Read this book mostly over 3 weeks, as I didn’t get much reading in over the holiday. It goes surprisingly fast as you want to know what will happen next. For me, someone who did extremely well in US History, it was a great refresher course for material I hadn’t studied in 10 years. It also gives some interesting insight into 19th century relationships, including the lost relationship type known as “intimate platonic male friendship”. While I’m fairly close to a few of my male friends, I don’t think I would ever write to them about how I “longed to feel their love”!

More than anything else the book underscores the benefits of rational thought over emotional even under pressure. Many times Lincoln could have succumbed to petty emotional decision making regarding subordinates, however he always gave himself time to refocus — in many cases writing letters he never sent due to his rashness of tone within them.

Great read.

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