Team of Rivals

  • by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Narrated by Suzanne Toren
  • 41 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 was the result of a character that had been forged by life experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because hepossessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.
This capacity enabled President Lincoln to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to preserve the Union and win the war.


What the Critics Say

"An elegant, incisive study....Goodwin has brilliantly described how Lincoln forged a team that preserved a nation and freed America from the curse of slavery." (James M. McPherson, The New York Times Book Review)
"Goodwin's narrative abilities...are on full display here, and she does an enthralling job of dramatizing...crucial moments in Lincoln's life....A portrait of Lincoln as a virtuosic politician and managerial genius." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)
"Splendid, beautifully written....Goodwin has brilliantly woven scores of contemporary accounts...into a fluid narrative....This is the most richly detailed account of the Civil War presidency to appear in many years." (John Rhodehamel, Los Angeles Times)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Beautiful, Heartbreaking, and Informative

"Team of Rivals" surprised me in so many ways. I was surprised by how much I didn't know about Abraham Lincoln. I was surprised by how beautifully told this story is. And I was surprised by how moved I was by a story that I, essentially, already knew.

Strange to say, but by the time Abraham Lincoln is shot by John Wilkes Booth in Ford's Theater, I had almost willed myself into thinking Lincoln was a character who could figure out the trap, and avoid it somehow. I really didn't want him to die.

Narrator Suzanne Toren breathes life into the story, and even into the nearly all-male cast of characters. I could listen to her talk all day, and she made some of the dull spots easier to get through.

Readers/Listeners will be surprised at how well they'll come to know Lincoln's cabinet and family, and how heartbreaking it is to consider the untimely deaths of three of his four children, not to mention the tragic histories that haunted both Salmon P. Chase and Edwin M. Stanton.

I listened to this shortly after listening to "1861: The Civil War Awakening" (Adam Goodheart) which makes a fascinating companion piece to "Rivals" for its more colorful descriptions of the times, and its different perspective on figures such as Gustavus Fox.

"Rivals" is destined to go down as one of the definitive accounts of Lincoln's life, and any reader with even the most fleeting interesting in the 16th president would do well to delve into it.
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- JJ "I'm a pop culture writer and editor living in San Francisco who commutes about half an hour with audio books five days a week. I go through a lot of audio books."

Good story but a bit imbalanced

If you just read this book, knowing what most people know about Lincoln, you will likely learn a lot and enjoy the read. For me, the book was interesting, but it seemed to systematically leave out anything essentially negative about Lincoln himself. This bothered me a bit. Although Lincoln was, and should be, a hero, a good history should show him as human, with all the faults and weaknesses that make heroism so extraordinary. Team of Rivals was more fun to read than Carwardine’s or Donald’s Lincoln, but both of those books portrayed much more flawed, balanced, and believable Lincoln. The best part of Team of Rivals is the portraits of the men in Lincoln’s cabinet which are given short shrift in other histories. The downside is Team of Rivals has a strong point of view about Lincoln as a politician and a heroic man. Instead of presenting the evidence questioning the author’s point of view and refuting it, such incidents are just left out. The author even guesses at Lincoln’s pre-marital sexual experience based (it seems) on little more than guy talk and common sense (both notoriously unreliable). This is a very good read, but should not be the only Lincoln history one reads.
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- Michael "I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-17-2011
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio