Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
I originally wrote the first paragraph of this review on GoodReads, the newest way I find new books to read recommended by friends.
This book was so well thought-out. It used so many sources I couldn’t keep track as it built a web of story-lines from most members of Lincoln’s cabinet. I was so vested in learning about the people that I felt very moved to learned the details of the day of Lincoln’s death – and that was only in the last hour of the 40 hour Audible! And I was engrossed the whole time. It was fascinating to learn about Lincoln’s strategies of handling prominent men (herding prideful cats) and their politics. I loved getting a glimpse at diaries and correspondence as that was really what gave the soul to the book.
Interesting facets that I share with people to this day are as follows:
-Did you know they invented the current currency during his presidency? You get to learn all about Chase, his original Treasurer and later a Supreme Court Justice (and his name is what makes up Chase Bank!) You also get to learn about his beautiful daughter who was the hostess with the mostess in DC.
-Lincoln selected a really bright man to reform the US Postal Service.
-Seward (his Secretary of State) was incredibly interesting, least being that he stood strong on saying getting Alaska was a smart idea (Seward, Alaska, right!?!)
-Learning the pressures Mary Lincoln faced as first lady with judgments from all sides (for fashion, hostessing, being “a ruffian from the Midwest,” and having her family living in the South during the entire Civil War) definitely made her a little crazy once she lost her children and husband.
-The constant criticisms coming from Frederick Douglass (his auto-biography I read twice, by the way) about how Lincoln handled slavery and the hesitancy he had to going to war; but then the later pride and friendship they exuded upon each other once they met and Douglass realized that Lincoln was an Everyman and should be supported and praised for his consistency with how he treated all of his fellow men.
-How puffy and flowery men used to write to each other in correspondence – they were very mushy to each other, actually.
-How many people kept diaries and how many of them were preserved. It was an amazing time in history and we should revel in the fact that even though they didn’t have Facebook, memories and descriptions remain.
I also once read Lincoln on Leadership and I think I will put that back on my reading list again now that I have the entire framework for his life. And since it’s a small-ish book it will act as a refresher when I do finally get to it. My reading queue is quite long!