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Most Helpful Favorable Review
18 out of 20 people found this review helpful.
Excellent Read If A Little Bit Heavy On Idolatry
The team of rivals consisted of one time Republican presidential candidates William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Salmon P. Chase, Treasury Secretary, and Edward Bates Attorney General. The other major player in this detailed work is Edwin M. Stanton, War Secretary.
This is a good read although the author is stretched at times to continually bring the overall premise together. The opening section of the book paints individual pictures of the major players, which I did not find particularly interesting. This I think is partly because some of the characters - Chase and Bates, at least to this reader are just not compelling in their own right. Thus it takes quite some time for the book to grasp this reader's attention.
Although peripheral to the main story, the hardships of life during the first half of the 19th century become very obvious. Chase lost three wives and two daughters before he was forty four, while Stanton between 1841 and 1846 lost his wife, a daughter and his only brother.
Another fascinating and heart rending aspect portrayed is how the Civil War tore families apart. Four of Mary Lincoln's siblings and three brothers-in-law fought on behalf of the Confederacy, while Bate's son also took up arms for the seceding states.
Team of Rivals is basically a biography of Lincoln with a different twist. It is not as detailed as other works - especially in relation to some Civil War episodes, because the author tries to paint pictures of so many characters. Her portrait of Lincoln to some extent lacks objectivity. Every Lincoln weakness or vacillation has a logic or rationale.
Lincoln undoubtedly was underestimated by rivals and media. One Democratic newspaper referred to him as "a third rate Western lawyer ... a fourth rate lecturer, who cannot speak good grammar." As a lawyer and in his early presidential years, the term "inspirational" does not come to mind. To some extent, his behavior did warrant this lack of respect.
His lack of authority over his generals in the early stages of the war must have been disturbing for his cabinet. General McClellan treated him with a disdain and discourtesy that was mind boggling. Had Lincoln been more forceful with Generals Meade and McClellan, it is entirely conceivable the war would have ended much earlier. Kearns (and other writers) has tried to paint Lincoln as an accommodating, understanding head of state. It is probably more accurate to suggest as Martin Luther King did that he was at some stages a "vacillating" president. Much has been written about Lincoln's leadership, but I think, the student of leadership can learn as much from what Lincoln did poorly as he did well.
Lincoln "grew" into the Presidency, winning over doubters and opponents slowly but surely with his down to earth, homely style. He most definitely has won over the author who paints Lincoln in very favorable terms no matter what the occasion. There is a tendency for the reader to become seduced by the portrait. Lincoln becomes more and more likeable, more and more presidential as the book develops. Ultimately, the rea
posted by IrishmanSpeaks on November 17, 2008Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Most Helpful Critical Review
11 out of 40 people found this review helpful.
Woefully, deeply disappointing...
posted by Anonymous on January 6, 2006Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 9, 2008
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Posted December 27, 2008
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