When a book grips you, moves you, shakes you up and makes you cry…

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I finished reading Team of Rivals: The Polical Genius of Abraham Lincoln last night and I am so moved and warmed and inspired and hurt by this book that I don’t think I could possibly do anything like justice in this attempt to write a review. But I have to try…

This is one of the best books I have ever read. The writing is brilliant and it is immensely helped by the fact that the subject of the book is so inspiring.

There have been many books written about Abraham Lincoln. But this one is special. It begins in 1860 with Lincoln’s nomination as the Republican candidate for the presidency.

He was a surprise nominee who won out over far more experienced rivals like William H Seward, Salmon P Chase and Edward Bates. And against everybody’s expectations, he became the president and he invited Seward, Chase and Bates to join his cabinet, hence the title Team of Rivals.

The book follows Lincoln’s presidency through the next five years. It takes us through Lincoln’s handling of the civil war, his inspired creation of the Emancipation proclamation, his adept  handling of all the political infighting in his cabinet as well as the Republican party and finally to the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment ending slavery forever…

Team of Rivals is very engaging and extremely hard to put down. Goodwin draws on a whole lot of disparate sources and somehow manages to weave them all into a very fluid narrative.

But what makes the book great in the end is Lincoln himself. His generosity, his magnanimity, his wisdom and general good sense made him a wonderful man. He was also a brilliant politician who knew how to deal with his colleagues and how to inspire his generals and his soldiers.

He was a very far seeing man who knew the pulse of the people and he took the time and made the effort to educate them and change their sentiments so that when the time came to put an end to slavery, he had most of the country behind him.

It is a brilliant story and Goodwin has done an incredible job of telling it.

 

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