and Erie County Public Library Staff Review
of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Doris Kearns Goodwin,
popular presidential historian and television commentator, really “hits one out
of the park” with this biography of not only Abraham Lincoln, but also of key
members of Lincoln’s cabinet.
Goodwin tells the
riveting story of Abraham Lincoln’s election as president and then of his
careful selection of his cabinet. William
Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates and Henry Stanton each felt that he was
more qualified than Lincoln to be president. According to Ms. Goodwin, it is a mark of Lincoln’s genius
that he chose his primary adversaries as his advisors.
The author then describes
the evolution of Lincoln’s relationships with the members of his inner
circle. As they worked closely
with Lincoln, most gained an appreciation of Lincoln’s abilities. Only Secretary of Treasury Salmon P.
Chase was unable to put aside his own ambitions; it was a poorly kept secret
that Chase hoped to win the Republican presidential nomination in 1864. Lincoln finally nominated Chase to the
Supreme Court in order to get Chase out of the cabinet.
Don’t let the length
of this book (916 p.) intimidate you.
Ms. Goodwin is a master of narrative and the story of Lincoln and his
rivals will simply fly by.