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Publisher Description

Winner of the Lincoln Prize

Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Abraham Lincoln's political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.

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, Goodwin demonstrates, was the result of a character that had been forged by experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.

It was this capacity that enabled Lincoln as president to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the war.

We view the long, horrifying struggle from the vantage of the White House as Lincoln copes with incompetent generals, hostile congressmen, and his raucous cabinet. He overcomes these obstacles by winning the respect of his former competitors, and in the case of Seward, finds a loyal and crucial friend to see him through.

This brilliant multiple biography is centered on Lincoln's mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation's history.

Biographies & Memoirs
December 8
Simon & Schuster

Customer Reviews

mikefao ,

Five star writing, 3 star presentation

Goodwin has mastered the subject matter and presents a compelling and informative narrative. A must read for anyone interested in presidential history, political history, the Civil War, or American history writ large. But, for students of history, one of the greatest benefits of a work like this is the notes. Goodwin's notes are extensive, but (unless there is an issue with my download) the notes are not linked--you don't see the endnote number on the page you are reading. Very disappointing and frustrating.

Bobbychris ,

Team of rivals

The book was wonderful! I learned so much history that I had not known. It is written in a style that makes the facts come alive.

waward1 ,


Wow, the best book ever written about our greatest president. Goodwin was able to reveal the real Lincoln through the eyes of his cabinet and many others. I feel I now know Mr. Lincoln on a personal level. It is time for a visit to Springfield to again pay my respects to this great man and president.

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