January 28, 2006
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Team Of Rivals

by Doris Keans Goodwin

This group biography of Lincoln and his cabinet is, perhaps inevitably, dominated by Lincoln himself. The portrait of Lincoln that emerges here is strikingly close to David Herbert Donald's Lincoln , or Carl Sandburg's , or (for that matter) Gore Vidal's .

Our vision of Lincoln is remarkably consistent. This was not the case in his lifetime, for even his closest advisors differed radically on, and often changed their opinions regarding, his character and competence. No sooner had Stanton declared that he belonged to the ages than all this changed. Contrasted to the strikingly dissonant perspectives we receive of Jack Kennedy, say, or Winston Churchill, or George Washington, our Lincoln is nearly always the same fine, sad fellow, laboring toward a new birth of freedom with malice toward none and a pumpkin in each end of his bag.