Thursday, January 24, 2013

Team of Rivals

by Doris Kearns Goodwin

It's for books like this that I started reading presidential biographies. I had already read a Lincoln biography along the road, and had no intention of revisiting his life. However, this book was lauded over at the LibraryThing US Presidents Challenge group and when I saw a copy for two bucks, I couldn't resist. I finally read it in an attempt to make some room on my shelf -- that didn't work out so well.

In one sense, Team of Rivals is four biographies in one. In addition to documenting Lincoln's life, Ms. Goodwin also weaves in the biographies of three other candidates for the 1860 Republican nomination--William Seward, Salmon Chase and Edward Bates. She does an excellent job of making a story of their lives, showing how they were molded by their upbringings and the society around them. More than any other biography I've read, she brings out the personal side of these men, showing how they were able to work together to truly make history during their country's worst crisis. Of course, if you don't care for Mr. Lincoln, you may not be able to finish this book. Ol' Father Abraham comes across as a virtual demigod, just like they told us at school. Ms. Goodwin has no problem extolling his virtues and defending the good intentions in his errors. But the tale was so compelling that I found I had no problem reading it at all.
LibraryThing link

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