Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates 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
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
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.