Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Lincoln and his Cabinet of rivals

James McPherson reviews Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln for the New York Times, and Allen Guelzo reviews the same for the Washington Post. Both like the book, it is "immense," "elegant," "incisive," and admit that Goodwin’s narrative powers are great. I’m reading it now, and I think that Guelzo’s comment is near the mark:
"But this immense, finely boned book is no dull administrative or bureaucratic history; rather, it is a story of personalities -- a messianic drama, if you will -- in which Lincoln must increase and the others must decrease." It is well written and takes hundreds of pages (the book is almost a thousand pages long) to tell the personal stories of the four great rivals (Lincoln, Chase, Seward, Bates) for the presidency in 1860. The rest of the book is a very well crafted (Guelzo calls her a "popular" historian) story of Lincoln’s cat herding, or his prudent political management, as you please. (I like Guelzo’s comment, en pasant, that Salmon P. Chase was the John McCain of mid-century Republicanism! Chase was the only Cabinet member who never quite admited to Lincoln’s greatness). The book will be on the best-seller list soon enough, and that’s fine. The worse thing about it is that then I will have to put up with seeing more of "Dorin Kearns Goodwin, presidential historian," all over the TV talk shows for months. Her writing is much better than her voice. Yet, her topic with this book is much grander than all the others she has written, or plagiarized, as you please.

Discussions - 2 Comments

Or perhaps plagiarized (as opposed to "plagerized").

Hey, Martial, do you have a footnote for that spelling correction? I would like to see your source...


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