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Team of Rivals Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 25, 2005
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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
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
The chemistry among these players was sometimes problematic. Chase's ambitions sometimes drove him to near mutiny against Lincoln. Seward began by thinking that Lincoln should, in essence, defer to him. Bates was an elder statesman who had some presidential ambitions in 1860. And, of course, the workaholic Edwin Stanton.
The book revolves around the interaction of these characters in what is akin to a fine drama. It also displays Lincoln's ability to get the most out of this set of powerful political actors, to keep them moving forward as a team (even when there were clear differences and tensions). It made good political sense for Lincoln to reach out to this disparate group of people--but it also brought some of the most capable leaders into his Cabinet.
In short, an illuminating volume that informs the reader in some detail about the unique set of characters who had to work together to maintain the Union.
While the focus is on Lincoln's initial three political opponents, Seward, Chase and Bates and their national roles before and after the Chicago Convention of 1860 we are also introduced to the Blair Family, Edwin Stanton, Gideon Wells and a host of other figures in and out of government. The book gives us a sweeping look at Lincoln as seen through the eyes of many people he was working with on a daily basis. Some felt they were better than him Seward at the outset or at least were withholding judgement of his capabilities, Bates and at least one never could accept his lesser role in the Lincoln Cabinet, Chase.
Of the entire group of Lincoln's rivals I find I have the least empathy with Chase.
Granted he did an excellent job as Treasury Secretary but his constant thirst for the presidency to me shows him to be a much smaller person in moral stature than his President. Granted Lincoln, on moving him to the Supreme Court felt he was putting the best man in place to preserve the gains coming out of the Civil War, I still find I was not impressed with Chase. Maybe it was his feeling that he should be president as a divine right, I'm not sure. I just didn't find him a very likable person.
Lincoln demonstrated the excellent talent of being able to bide his time and act when conditions were right for action. He listened to counsel but was his own decision maker. He gave credit where credit was due such as Seward's request to delay the issuing of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation until there was a military success to boost it's stature. Lincoln acknowledged that the linking of the military situation to the proclamation was not something he had considered. The incident made both men seem better leaders.
Edwin Stanton met Lincoln, briefly, in Ohio when Lincoln was working on a case that had originally be slated to be heard in Illinois and a local lawyer was deemed useful. The case was moved to Ohio and although Lincoln was no longer required, the team lead by Stanton "forgot" to tell him. When the trail date came due Lincoln traveled to Cincinnati and met his co-counsels who promptly dismissed him and ignored him. Lincoln vowed never to go to Cincinnati again. Fortunately he was able to rise above this slight and when he needed a new Secretary of War, he was able to choose Stanton as the best man for the job. Lincoln may have not forgotten slights he received along the way but he was able to rise above them for the greater good of the nation.
Lincoln is agurably or greatest president and Dr. Goodwin's ten year effort has produced a book that is unique from most others about Lincoln. She gives us a much more personal look at the man and the men and women around him. She gives us a much more personal contact with these people. We learn of Mary Lincoln's unannounced and unpublicized visits to wounded soldiers in Washington area hospitals. We learn of Edwin Stanton's feelings as he listened to the sounds of wounded soldiers being brought into Washington from battles in the local areas.
Dr. Goodwin has given us a history of people in a time of great crises and makes everyone, good, bad or indifferent, involved in this time, important, as did her subject, Lincoln. Again a good leadership trait.
As a leadership guide this is an excellent work and as a reading of history it is outstanding!
I bought this book originally in paperback and over a long cold winter in norhtern Japan, I devoured the book. The pages are a bit dog eared and ketchup and mustard stained from my habit of reading while eating. I recently bought a hard back copy of the book at a book signing by Dr. Goodwin which will be my "good" copy. The paperback will continue to be my everyday reading copy.
I recommend this book to everyone as an essential work in the on-going study of Lincoln.