Wednesday, March 11, 2009

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

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Narrated by Suzanne Toren
Produced by Recorded Books

Wow, talk about an undertaking, "Team of Rivals" is not only an in depth study but an entertaining book as well. Doris Kearns Goodwin takes you on a trip back to a dark time in American History and sheds light on what the inner workings of not only a great American President and his cabinet but also on the feeling of a nation.

I first heard of this book when President Obama referenced “Team of Rivals” during his campaign for the presidency. I then had a couple of listeners to my radio show call up and tell me I HAD to read this book. The main reason I was told was that the parallels between Obama and Lincoln are uncanny. My first thought was, "What do a Republican president, Lincoln, and a Democrat President have in common?" Well quite a bit really. Obama has pretty much declared Lincoln his mentor.

Abraham Lincoln made the decision to bring into his cabinet all of his chief opponents for the Republican nomination, insisting the country needed the strongest minds available. Barack Obama is emulating his hero is this respect and he put in Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, Joe Biden as vice president. On the eve of the Civil War, one of Lincoln's first acts as president-elect was to appoint William Seward secretary of state and build a "team of rivals" that would preserve the nation and free it from the curse of slavery. Just like Hillary Clinton, Seward was bitterly disappointed that the presidency had been snatched from him by an upstart lawyer, but the two men soon became great allies.

I think the best aspect of this book, however, is the information about the goings on and the politics involved with the American Civil War. The reader/listener gets a great education on all aspects of that war.

The book is somewhat told in a story form starting with Lincoln's early life establishing himself as a lawyer all the way through to his assassination and then a bit of follow up with the cabinet members after. The information, gathered from many sources, includes many letters between key characters which gives this book more of a personal touch. That makes it actually an interesting and fun read. (or in my case listen) She made it a point to change inflection when reading actual quotes so there was clear moments of when a source was being referred to.

I never go for abridged versions of audiobooks, when I can help it, and the reader in this audiobook had her work cut out for her. The printed hardcover runs 900+ pages and this cd version contained 36 cds, so, yes it took time but I feel rewarded for having listened to the life of this great American.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:01 PM Comments: 0