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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.

©2006 Doris Kearns Goodwin (P)2011 Simon & Schuster

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)

What listeners say about Team of Rivals

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What a journey!

It is hard to encapsulate just what kind of journey this book takes you on in a mere review. I find myself reflecting on the innocent beginnings where simply achieving a state or federal post was the biggest worry for the actors in this book, to the sheer horror of the war that would be fought and the innocence ultimately lost. Though only hours have passed, it feels like I have experienced years since I started listening. I can appreciate the amount of research that went into this book, and it is through this lens that all the individuals come to life. The author has created a momentous biography that makes sure to humanize not only the protagonist, but also all those around him both near and far. I found myself feeling the many pains, and seemingly only occasional joys along with Lincoln and his cohorts. Through it all we are exposed to Lincoln's brilliance, but also his imperfections. I now have a new appreciation for this man and what he, and his rivals, accomplished in such a short amount of time.

3 people found this helpful

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A great book

I have about 300 books on audible and this is the best one so far

2 people found this helpful

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It's over!

It was a tough book to get through. The first half was the hardest as I had no background knowledge of all the major characters, but the chapters just flew by in the second half. An incredible story and absolutely recommended if you dare to get through the first chapters.

1 person found this helpful

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  • LMG
  • 2022-02-28

Incredible story, excellent narrators

This panoramic review of Lincoln’s life and challenges is informative, inspiring, and well told. Can see why it won a Pulitzer Prize. The narrator is very good as well. Persevere through the first few hours – where the leading characters are introduced, the background sketched, and the stage set for the drama – and you will find it is well worth it.

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thorough, balanced and entertaining.

highly recommend. well read with captivating historical content. extremely relevant leadership lessons for modern politicians.

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Arguably Best Audible Listen

On the outside, a biography of the greatest American and a history of their worst war. In reality, a powerful book on dealing with people - think How to Win Friends and Influence People.

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Timeless

I knew nothing is Abraham Lincoln beyond a common knowledge and now I can say with certainty he is one of my greatest heroes if not the greatest. As far as his master of of both emotion and oration go he has no equal in all the ages. This is an absolute must read. Loved it profusely

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best biography of lincoln

loved the storytelling. wonderfully written. the hours melted away. I couldn't get enough. must read.

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Truly Great!

Simply the best audiobook I’ve ever listened to. Lincoln is brought to life in a way that no other book has yet to accomplish.

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A great book of a great man.

Long on my reading list, the narration is superb, and I found myself longing to be able to listen to it freshly again.

If you are considering this book, you will not regret it.

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  • Wolfpacker
  • 2015-06-22

Lincoln Comes Alive Through His Realtionships

Though I was very familiar with Lincoln and the Civil War, I learned new things about Lincoln through finding out about Seward, Chase, and Stanton. Lincolns close relationship to Seward and their true loyalty to one another was touching. Chase comes across poorly, but Lincoln's patience with him is telling. Stanton is a bulwark. The story dragged a bit for me at times, but it was a very good listen.

41 people found this helpful

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  • JJ
  • 2012-09-10

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.

171 people found this helpful

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  • Carole T.
  • 2013-01-13

Doris Makes a Difference

Everyone has reviewed this book. It is as excellent as everyone says! I'm only writing yet another review because I believe there is a real difference between this and other great Presidential and civil war tomes - the perspective of a few, very interesting woman.

Don't get me wrong - the stars here are Lincoln and his "rivals", but a female historian just naturally carries her interest a little farther - into the lives and motives of the women who love and inspire them. Mary Lincoln becomes real here, but I also appreciate the fascinating details about lesser-known wives and daughters like Kate Chase and Frances Seward. Doris Kearns Goodwin's inclusion of these women adds yet another dimension to an already exemplary historical effort. It's an element which many fine male historians have overlooked.

89 people found this helpful

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  • Jean
  • 2012-12-13

Beautifully written, narration inadequate

This is a great book, beautifully researched and written. I wish, however, that I had bought the hard copy. The narrator's style was cold and uninvolving, although at the beginning I was hoping to get used to it. After 40 hours, unfortunately, I did not; she lacked all passion for her subject. Doris Kearns Goodwin would have been a much better choice as reader. It didn't matter to me that Toren was a woman, and she has a beautiful speaking voice. This brilliant book deserved better.

50 people found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 2012-12-18

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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  • JohnFern0813
  • 2015-12-06

America's greatest American, for sure.

What made the experience of listening to Team of Rivals the most enjoyable?

What a marvelous endeavor by Doris Kearns Goodwin. The research, the dialogue and history make it seem like it is happening in the present time. Makes you wish that we had individuals like Lincoln in these days of challenge.

Who was your favorite character and why?

of course, Abraham Lincoln. It is all about him.

What about Suzanne Toren’s performance did you like?

at first I thought she sounded like a grammar school principal. But her rich delivery and strong commitment to the story over the more than 41 hours made me a believer in her dedication and excellence.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

too many to choose one.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Erick
  • 2012-12-12

The Lincoln Story:Tactics of an Underdog

I listened the first half if this book. I have read several books on the civil war but really wanted more history of the events that lead up to the war, and of Lincoln's life and career. The book delivered on this. I was not in the mood to hear about the battles, so maybe later I'll return and finish. Lincoln's tactics of timing, and good humor were well illustrated. Suzanne Toren did an excellent job narrating. She wouldn't have been my first pick, and sometimes I thought her delivery a tad melodramatic, but concidering parts of the book were dry accounts of parties and shopping trips, she really did keep my attention.

9 people found this helpful

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  • C. Johnson
  • 2012-12-09

Tour de Force of mid-19-th century politics & war

What did you love best about Team of Rivals?

Ms. Goodwin started this marvelous novel, not at the beginning of the civil war, but much earlier in the personal and professional lives of each of the key characters. This allowed the reader to develop a much more complete understanding of the inter-relationships that were forged as Lincoln's cabinet was crafted from the great minds (and egos) of his day.

The thousands of personal correspondence that Ms. Goodwin had to read and research in order to build the elegantly flowing narrative of the lives of several great men and women contained in the novel is truly mind-boggling. She must be applauded for her diligence, passion and commitment, because the result of her work is a truly epic story.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Team of Rivals?

No single moment, but the common theme that almost everyone who initially met Lincoln underestimated him until they actually got to know him. Looks, in this case, were exceedingly misleading as each would come to learn (and sometimes regret).

What about Suzanne Toren’s performance did you like?

Ms. Toren's performance was phenomenal, not necessarily for its range of characters, but more for her ability to convey the far-reaching story and its complex characters with such subtlety that the reader can remain immersed in the tale, rather than becoming distracted by the narration.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Of course, when Lincoln was assassinated at almost the same moment that his epic struggle to end the Civil War, while keeping the warring factions of his cabinet knitted together.

Any additional comments?

I consider myself fortunate for having read this story. I learned and felt much as the lives of the characters unfolded before me.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Jamie
  • 2013-01-06

Felt Like an Easedropper at Lincoln's White House

Would you consider the audio edition of Team of Rivals to be better than the print version?

I haven't read the print version, but the exemplary way in which the audio version was executed suggests an equal, if not better, experience.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Team of Rivals?

Lincoln being driven to tears by the adoration and gratitude bestowed upon him by African American soldiers.

Which scene was your favorite?

The scene above - also any references to the closeness of Lincoln with Seward and Stanton.Some great scenes, two, describing meetings between Frederick Douglas and Lincoln.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

With Malice Toward None

Any additional comments?

This was an amazing piece of non-fiction: Scrupulously researched and presented in a way that made some fairly unwieldy material (especially in the beginning) understandable and compelling. Kearns-Goodwin justifies her place as a revered guest on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Sunday morning news programs.There were moments when I truly felt as though I was listening to Lincoln deal patiently with his often argumentitive cabinet.

26 people found this helpful

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  • D. Johnson
  • 2012-09-10

History makes for a fascinating story

Where does Team of Rivals rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Goodwin has done an incredible job of bringing together a ton of information about the personalities and actions of key "players" in the Lincoln administration (including Lincoln himself). It corrected many misconceptions I had about the history and personalities that I had had about that time. Her writing definitely gets you "up close and personal" with these important historical figures. I finished the book with a much greater appreciation for Lincoln and how important he was in keeping the U.S. together during this time. His unselfish approach to saving the Union was more than the country could have hoped for at this point in history. Plus, he would have been a great guy to have at almost any party.

What did you like best about this story?

Even though the story focused considerably on the "team," I still enjoyed hearing about Lincoln's upbringing, his road to the White House, and his treatment of his cabinet, his generals, and others.

What does Suzanne Toren bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She may not have provided much emotion in the reading, but she did a very good job of keeping the story going at a brisk pace.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There were probably many, but it's hard not to be moved by the "end" that's coming for Lincoln.

Any additional comments?

This is the way to learn history.

16 people found this helpful

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  • come.dechery
  • 2022-04-04

A masterful book served by an excellent delivery

I thoroughly enjoyed Kearns Goodwin’s portrayal of Lincoln. Her original angle - painting one of America’s greatest leader by contrasting his life with those of the rivals he eventually enlisted into his cabinet - brings new life and nuances to a story told many times. The subtle politics of the time, the humane relationships underpinning them and the dramatic events leading up to - and making up - the Civil War all combine into a powerful portrayal of men and women struggling to chart a course through difficult times. The book would have been even stronger if the author had managed, at times, to shake her deep seated admiration for Lincoln to highlight some of his failures and shortcomings. As it stands, the book reads a bit too much like a hagiography.

Special congratulations to Suzanne Toren for her fantastic narration of the audiobook. Her performance - complete with tones and impersonation of each character - brings to life the gigantic personalities of Seward, Stanton, Chase, Bates Lincoln and many others without ever veering into cheap drama or drawing the reader away from the complex course of events. A true testament of skills which serves well a text that stands on the precarious balance between story and History.

Five stars : would recommend to anyone.