Team of Rivals is a story of politics, unlike most books about Lincoln. However, Goodwin obviously worships at the Lincoln altar, and the book is rife with ‘Lincolnesque’ wisdom and stories. I personally felt a bit hammered with the fervor of the author and her personal admiration of Lincoln and his words; there is considerable repetition. That said, Team of Rivals is a terrific insight into Lincoln.
The book begins with the biographical detail of Lincoln’s cabinet members and progresses through his election, Presidency, the American Civil War, his assassination, and ends with the death of Mary Todd. The story does not linger on any single historical event. It is a compilation of the behaviors of Lincoln himself and his circle of cabinet members, family, and friends, primarily from a political view. Attitudes regarding preservation of the Union and slavery are the primary focus. The genius of Lincoln and his artful manipulation of the disparate personalities of the men surrounding the White House, including Civil War generals, is the backbone of Team of Rivals.
Understanding and appreciating the passions and goals of others, and using this knowledge to his advantage, was his genius … especially considering he ruffled no feathers in the process.
This book is the basis for the Spielberg movie, Lincoln. Cliché though it may be, “The book is better.” , applies. The full title of the book is actually: Team of Rivals – The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Over 41 hours of listening, the book is read by Suzanne Toren. As an audiobook listener, I was more focused on the history of the time and man, and wasn’t distracted by the reading … so she apparently does a good job :-).