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Publisher's Summary

Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln's political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president. 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.
Listen to an interview with Doris Kearns Goodwin on The Bob Edwards Show.
©2005 Blithedale Productions, Inc. (P)2005 Simon and Schuster Inc. All rights reserved.
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Critic Reviews

2006 Quill Award Nominee
National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, Biography or Autobiography, 2005
"The knowledge gained here about these three significant figures who well attended Lincoln gain for the reader an even keener appreciation of the rare individual that he was." (Publishers Weekly)
"An elegant, incisive study of Lincoln and leading members of his cabinet that will appeal to experts as well as to those whose knowledge of Lincoln is an amalgam of high-school history and popular mythology." (The New York Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By R. Beauchamp on 10-17-08

Excessively abridged

If the focus, in the printed book, is on the team of rivals that Lincoln selected for his cabinet, that focus is almost entirely absent in this abridgement. It starts out promisingly, with some interesting material on the fight for the Republican nomination in 1860 -- we get fascinating glimpses into the men who would lose to Lincoln, then serve him in his cabinet. That's about 45 minutes ... From that point on, the audiobook is basically a decent overview of the course of the Civil War, with little insight into how these rivals influenced Lincoln's governance.

If you haven't done much reading on the Civil War, this abridgement could serve as a good place to start. If, however, you were looking for an in-depth view of Lincoln's cabinet and its impact on his Presidency, you may want to wait for the unabridged version.

On a side note: The narration was excellent throughout, apart form a brief intro by the author, who may have been caught on a bad day.

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27 of 27 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Susan Gardner Bowers on 11-16-05

Disappointing abridgement of a wonderful book

I try to avoid abridged editions, but was so eager to "read" this one, that I got this version accidentally - and then realized that there isn't an unabridged one. The abridgement is neither seamless nor smooth - for example, stories of Lincoln's youth are referred to, but never told. The reader/listener can "feel" the holes in the narrative. Dang!

That being said, it is clear that this is a wonderful book, carefully researched, with creative connections and educational historial parallels (ex - Seward and Rumsfeld taking hits for their President's war decisions). I am loving it, and wishing I could have had all of it. Wait for the unabridged version!

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46 of 47 people found this review helpful

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