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Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
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am 5. Februar 2012
Dieses Buch ist nicht nur eine Biographie über Abraham Lincoln, sondern auch ein akribisch recherchiertes Geschichtsbuch über den amerikanischen Sezessionskrieg 1861-1865. Nichtsdestotz werden aber auch Lincolns Mitstreiter und Gegner ebenso eingehend beleuchtet. Die Autorin schreibt dicht und geradezu brilliant über die damalige Zeit und von welchen Menschen Amerika wie verändert wurde. Es werden unzählige Briefe, Korrespondenzen, Tagebücher und Zeitungsartikel genutzt und so entsteht ein sehr farbvolles und vor allem lebendiges Buch. Obwohl man im allgemeinen rudimentär weiß, wie die Entwicklung damals stattfand, ist dieses Sachbuch sehr spannend und interessant. Man sollte sich nicht von dem 800-Seiten Kracher im Überformat schrecken lassen, denn seit langem ist das mal wieder ein echter Pageturner für mich, der mindestens zweimal gelesen werden kann...
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am 20. März 2006
In "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln," Doris Kearns Goodwin confirms my belief that Abraham Lincoln was literally the only man in America who could have preserved the Union in the face of the Civil War. The book offers parallel biographies of Lincoln and the three men who were his chief rivals for the Republican nomination for president in 1860--Willam Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward Bates--as well as the man who would serve as Secretary of War for most of Lincoln's administration, the (War) Democrat Edwin Stanton. The emphasis is on how their personal and political lives shaped their personalities and their destinies, as well as how circumstances compelled them to accept posts in the Lincoln cabinet and (with one notable exception) come to recognize that the president they served was the greatest man of his generation.
Goodwin presents Lincoln as the first consummate politician, as indicated by the subtitle, which is to say that in being nominated for president he proved his rivals to be amateurs, making his surprising nomination seem totally inevitable. The parallel biographies lead to a series of incidents in which Lincoln must manage not only these people but issues and events as well. More importantly, she makes it clear that from at least his first defeat for a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 1855 that Lincoln had been living by the words of his Second Inaugural address: "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right." Goodwin also emphasizes Lincoln's driving ambition of "being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem."
Otherwise, "Team of Rivals" reinforces the judgments history has made of these historical figures. I continue to see both Chase and McClelland to be detestable figures, and the book gives me a much better appreciation of Seward (and also of Gideon Welles). Lincoln is such a towering figure that a book like this does serve to remind you that these other men actually did things besides try to act as defacto president. Goodwin also makes an effort to put Mary Lincoln in a better light, and highlights Lincoln's visits to the troops. One of the key recurring elements is the way diverse parties as Frederick Douglass and the "Charleston Mercury" reversed their opinions about Lincoln as president, explaining why it was the most vilified American of the 19th century when he was first inaugurated would become a secular saint whose death was met with almost universal bereavement.
The book ends with all of Washington present for the two-day "farewell march" of the nearly two hundred thousand Union soldiers past the reviewing stand on Pennsylvania Avenue. All of the members of the cabinet were there, but not Abraham Lincoln. Goodwin privileges a story told by Leo Tolstoy of how the name of Lincoln was known even to a tribal chief in the wild and remote area of the North Caucasus. The epilogue covers the deaths of the principle members of Lincoln's cabinet and of Tad and Mary Lincoln (but not Robert). However, Goodwin's thesis is well and truly proven when Lincoln accepts Chase's resignation, which would make the nomination of Chase as Chief Justice the pertinent epilogue. But Goodwin can hardly be faulted for continuing to play out the rest of the war and Lincoln's life. For me the most poignant moment in the volume comes when Seward, recovering from his own assassination attempt and spared the news of what happened at Ford's Theater, knows the president is dead because he sees a flag at half-mast and knows his friend would have been the first to visit at his bedside.
As to being an implicit indictment of the current Cabinet, I suppose there is an attendant irony given that those who served Lincoln were under the mistaken belief they were smarter than the President. But historically only the first cabinet selected by George Washington can measure up to the team Lincoln assembled (having both Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson settles that matter, although Henry Knox and Edmund Randolph are not slouches). The Kennedy administration came make claim to having assembled "The Best and the Brightest," but that is hardly comparable to bringing together the biggest names in the party. Still, obvious parallels between Stanton and Rumsfeld aside, the thought of John McCain serving in the Bush cabinet would certainly represent the sort of inherent tensions Lincoln faced repeatedly in his day. However, today Cabinet officers clearly function more as administrators and as advisors specific to their responsibilities, than as the general council on all matters political and military that Lincoln enjoyed.
"Team of Rivals" does not break new ground in terms of Lincoln scholarship, but it does try to put Lincoln in a slightly different light, and if there is one figure in American history who deserves to be revisited from time to time, it would be Abraham Lincoln. The crises, both major and minor, come so fast and furious during the Civil War that Goodwin cannot really justify using break them into discrete subjects worthy of individual chapters. Consequently, once the book gets past introducing the primary figures, it sticks to a straightforward chronology. There are close to a hundred contemporary photographs and illustrations throughout the book, but with an eye always turned towards irony, I note that the endpapers consist of a view from Pennsylvania Avenue of the unfinished U.S. Capitol in the 1850s, and a stereoscopic view of the finished building after Lincoln's death when the nation that was torn in two had been reunited.
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am 12. November 2011
As readers of my Amazon reviews know, I have read extensively about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War (War Between the States to our Rebel friends). "Team of Rivals" has to be one of the finest books ever written on either topic. The purpose of the book is to explain how Abraham Lincoln took a collection of his rivals, all of whom thought that they, not Lincoln, should have been president, and molded them into a team that held the country together and came to respect and love their chief. Beginning with Lincoln's background, author Doris Kearns Goodwin describes the backgrounds of each of the four other main characters, Secretary of State William H. Seward, Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and Attorney General Edward Bates.

Seward, Senator from and former Governor of New York, entered the Republican Convention of 1860 as the presumed nominee until the Lincoln operatives upset those aspirations. Although overcome by disappointment, Seward accepted the post of Secretary of State, expecting to become a defacto Prime Minister to a president who, despite his extraordinary height, was in over his head. Becoming Lincoln's most trusted advisor, Seward came to realize that he was just that, an advisor to a superior politician.

Gov. Chase of Ohio was the champion of the abolitionists who also saw himself as the logical standard bearer whose day in the sun was delayed, not eclipsed, by the Lincoln ascendency. Although Chase continued to use his position to undermine Lincoln politically with the intention of replacing him in 1865, Lincoln was able to use Chase's considerable talents to keep the war effort financed.

Stanton, a Washington insider, who had served as President Buchanan's Attorney General, came into the cabinet with heavy personal baggage. During their legal careers, Lincoln had been hired as local counsel for a case pending in Illinois. After venue was transferred to Ohio, Lincoln appeared to participate in the trial. Stanton, upon seeing the Western ruffian, disparagingly refused to allow Lincoln to play any role. At the end Lincoln returned to Illinois with bruised ego, a large legal fee, but no apparent grudge. It was Stanton who would collaborate with Lincoln in the prosecution of the war and who would cry at his death.

Bates, the conservative Missourian would largely confine himself to legal matters while providing Lincoln with a political balance to the more abolitionist Chase and Seward.

On the pages of this book the reader is brought through the victories and defeats of war, the personal agonies and political challenges through which Lincoln and the country passed. Here we read of mortal threats along the train trip to Washington, Lincoln's skill in playing each appointee off against the others and the taming of the disparate cabinet members.

Goodwin has crafted, not just a multiple biography, but a seamlessly weaved history of the War as seen from the Administration's perspective. It follows the trail of the four years that these rivals worked together through the threats of Bull Run, the frustrations with McClellan, the euphoria of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, the Gettysburg Address, the electoral struggles during the war, the discovery of Grant and Sherman, the military team that would bring victory, and the difficult, but ultimately successful, reelection campaign. At the end the administration would complete the victory and prepare for the peace until it was terminated in perhaps the most elaborate assassination plot in American history.

Booth's plot itself deserves mention. It was not limited to the assassination of Lincoln, but was to include Seward, who was seriously wounded as he lay in his sickbed where he was recovering from a carriage accident, and Vice-President Johnson, who was saved only because his planned assailant lost his courage.

This book is a good read that never loses the reader's interest. It is one of those books that really enables the reader to understand how the whole story fits together. It helps us to appreciate the political genius of Abraham Lincoln, who was able to hold things together during our nation's greatest crisis. It is must reading for everyone who wants to understand Abraham Lincoln and how America survived the Civil War.
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am 21. Februar 2013
Geschichte so spannend wie ein Krimi.Alle menschlichen Facetten inbegriffen.Was für ein beeindruckender Mensch dieser A.Lincoln war, setzt sich in diesem Buch authentisch und minutiös recherchiert in Zeitzeugnissen zusammen. Wer etwas über einen genialen Politiker,klugen Kommunikator und seine so mitfühlend wie grossherzige Persönlichkeit, seine Mitstreiter und Zeitgenossen erfahren will, ist hier richtig. Wie Lincoln aus Rivalen Teamkollegen macht, das Beste aus ihnen herausholt und sich nicht nur ihren Respekt,sondern Sympathie und belastbare Freundschaft erwirbt , das ist einfach phänomenal- und noch dazu Fakt.Unbedingt lesen.
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am 20. Oktober 2012
Das war die beste Biografie, die ich je gelesen habe. Spannend geschrieben, trotz der sehr detailgetreuen Erzählung. Und Obwohl der Fokus zunächst auf den Konkurrenten Lincolns liegt, verliert man Lincoln selbst nie aus dem Blick. Ein Meisterwerk, das die gesamte Epoche hervorragend beschreibt. Absolut zu empfehlen !
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am 9. März 2014
Read this book if you want to understand the United States today, and what it is based of, better.
This is not only a book, this is a guideline for those who want to improve themself.
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am 24. März 2016
Too many meticulous details and repetitions. Was interesting, but should be more concise. If you have 4 weeks of vacation, read it.
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