2012 Team of Rivals Group Read, November

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2012 Team of Rivals Group Read, November

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Bearbeitet: Okt. 31, 2012, 2:35pm

Some have started reading, others not. No rush. Just thought I'd start the thread so we can all find it, put a star on it, and figure out how we will read this large book in this short month.

I also want everyone to know I will be in Hawaii between November 11 - 22, which means I will have some lovely reading time under the palm trees; and, maybe some Away From Keyboard time, too.

I hope everyone feels free to take care of this thread and keep the conversation lively and interesting.

Any other suggestion? As of October 31, 2012 these are the folks who have said they are reading this book with the group. Any revisions or additions?

I am in! Karen, aka maggie1944;
Mark, aka msf59;
Mamie, aka Crazymamie;
Jim, aka drneutron
Joe, aka jnwelch
Roberta, aka luvamystery65
Darryl, aka kidzdoc
Roni, aka ronincats
James, aka magicians_nephew
Britt, aka Britt84
Ellen, aka ebt1002
Lynda, aka Carmenere
Rachel, aka The Hibernator
Terri, aka tymfos
JudiY, aka JudyY
Pat, aka Phebj
Roland, aka rolandperkins
Bonnie, aka Brenzi
Mary Beth, aka mmigmano11
Becky, aka labwriter

Now we number 21! (10/31/12)

Okt. 25, 2012, 7:30pm

For the really fast readers among us - I just heard a really interesting public radio review of this book- Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter in which a professor does some analysis of good leaders. He looks at Jefferson, Lincoln, Wilson, Churchill and some others. Sounds interesting and if I wasn't already having problems making progress in Team, I'd pick it up, too.

Okt. 25, 2012, 7:57pm

Okay, I picked up both an audio copy (a very handy Playaway!) and the print book of Team of Rivals. So I am armed and ready for the Group Read. Yah! I visited the library in the town where I work and they had both on shelf. How cool is that? I thought with the film coming out soon, that there would be more interest in the book. There I go, thinking again. I should be able to start the audio tomorrow, to help me get a little head-start.

Thanks Karen for getting this one going. I've wanted to read it for a few years now.

Okt. 25, 2012, 10:00pm

Mark, you are very welcome. I am looking forward to it, also. Especially sitting under the palm trees! And reading.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 26, 2012, 8:22am

I scoped out that I must read 25 pages a day. I do so much better with large books if I get down and quantify my progress. I use a big piece paper as a book mark and write down how many pages I read each day. Keeps me honest, and making progress.

I just read the first chapter last night, and I enjoyed reading the little bit about each of the Rivals home life, and background, and what they thought of the possibility of being President.

BTW, what are we going to do for history when we realize no one is keeping diaries any more?

Okt. 26, 2012, 8:29am

Hi Karen! Thanks so much for setting up this thread and motivting me to read this monster chunkster!!
I love your idea of reading 25 pages a day! That seems very doable and makes the book less intimidating!!! So that will be my mo as well!!!!
I'm very excited and can't wait to begin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okt. 26, 2012, 11:47am

OK I picked up my library copy but when I realized A.) that it was an incredibly heavy behemoth and B.) that there were no other library copies available so I won't be able to renew it, I decided to download it onto my iPad. I love it for big heavy books. Anyway, I will probably read it on and off for the month of November.

Okt. 26, 2012, 2:46pm

That question is one that historians ask everyday. I have gone so far as to make paper copies of e-mails from my family that tell of events, etc. because I think it is important to keep them much the same as people kept letters in the past.

Okt. 26, 2012, 2:49pm

I think it would be great to start a fad of writing, handwritten, diaries. What I did today, what I spent today, what are my goals today....

probably not going to happen. I can't even get myself to do this

Okt. 27, 2012, 7:36pm

I always break my reading up into how many pages I need to read to get said book read in however many days. So I'll be jumping on the 25 pages a day bandwagon, also. I have the audiobook, but plan on reading the hard copy also, so I can make notes. Can't wait.

Okt. 27, 2012, 7:40pm

I am happy to say that I have a habit of writing down a great deal of things. I have a notebook for all different things. This was one of my best ideas, I thought so anyway: I have a cookbook for each of my 3 daughters and I try to make as many of the recipes in the book as possible, then I also make notes on any substitutions, how it came out, who liked it, didn't like it, the date made and eaten, and notes on what is going on in our life at the time. I plan on giving them the books when they have their wedding shower, or the equivalent. My daughters kept laying claim to my cookbooks and requesting that I write down some family recipes they enjoyed so I came up with that.

Okt. 27, 2012, 11:36pm

Great idea!

My latest wrinkle is to put the Kindle app on my MacBook Air and now I can read TOR on my lap top. I may be easier than the first generation Kindle as I can mess witht he font for my poor old eyes. Woo hoo!

Okt. 28, 2012, 11:04pm

I am enjoying reading TOR on the computer because I can make the font quite big and the columns of words quite narrow. Much easier to speed my way along. I think I will finish Chapter 3 this evening and that puts me just about right on my schedule! The hard part will be to keep up the 25 pages a day during the week when there is so much more going on.

Politics does not seem to have changed too much; however, I do miss the politicians actually talking profoundly about the issues of the day.

Okt. 29, 2012, 3:20am

Ok, I got the book on my e-reader as well... I must say I am a bit daunted by the length of it, especially since I've been quite busy and Sinterklaas is coming up, so I'll need to do lots of gift-shopping (Sinterklaas is a bit like a Dutch version of Santa Claus, taking place on December 5th). But I like the idea of reading a set number of pages a day, so I might try to keep up with that. And 25 pages a day really doesn't sound like that much...

Okt. 29, 2012, 7:43am

For me, that usually means I need to think: "I need one hour for reading today!"

Okt. 29, 2012, 5:37pm

Question: Is anyone reading the Introduction? Anyone just jumping in to Chapter 1 without reading the Intro?

Okt. 29, 2012, 6:59pm

I read the Introduction. I liked it, thought it was interesting, and certainly motivated me to get going on the reading the book.

Okt. 29, 2012, 10:36pm

It was a good introduction. I usually don't read introductions because they often give away too much of the story but I think everyone knows how this one is going to turn out;-)

Okt. 30, 2012, 12:42am

I am planning to... Seeing as it's a historical novel, like Brenzi said, I think it won't give away the plot, so to say... :) and I'm hoping it'll help me out with some background (American history is not my strongest subject)...

Okt. 30, 2012, 8:30am

Team of Rivals is not a novel. It is a nonfiction history. Doris Kearns Goodwin is a well known, popular, historian who specializes in Presidents.

I wanted to be clear so no one is looking for vampires, or supernatural events. This book is very legitimate straight history, but not dull in the least.

Okt. 30, 2012, 8:34am

The political landscape just before the Civil War was amazing. At that time, third parties were still very much considered to be viable. The "republicans" and the "democrats" had not yet cornered the market on political organizing. And politicians were held to their record to some degree as their speeches were recounted in the local press and people had long memories.

Lincoln was not, at the beginning, the "gentle giant" some remember. He was as rough and tumble a politician as all the others. I wonder what those who "hate politicians and politics" would make of these historical facts were they to know them?

Okt. 30, 2012, 8:50am

>19 Britt84:, 20 Doris Kearns Goodwin is a well known, popular, historian who specializes in Presidents.

I think we can forgive Britt for not knowing Goodwin's well-known reputation. Britt is reading from the Netherlands, and she's interested enough in teaching herself about American history to plow through Goodwin's book, which I find quite amazing.

The book is "legitimate straight history" from the point of view of Doris Kearns Goodwin. I think that caveat must always be added about any biography. Goodwin is known for falling in love with her subjects (previous presidents: Franklin Roosevelt, John F Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson).

Okt. 30, 2012, 8:55am

Thanks to those who recommended reading the Introduction. I started last night, a little ahead of schedule, and found the intro alone fascinating! I already have the sense that this is going to be a very, very good book.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 30, 2012, 9:19am

Whoops, sorry, I actually meant it was just, history, not that it was fiction :P And no, I had never heard of Goodwin, but I've never had a history class in my life, so please forgive me for that... I always tell myself I should teach myself more about history, yet I never really get around to it :/

ETA: What, no vampires? You mean that vampire movie with Lincoln is not a factual retelling of the past? ;)

Okt. 30, 2012, 9:41am

I did not mean to sound critical, and I am sorry if I did. I just wanted to be sure everyone knew we are reading nonfiction.

labwriter, you are right to point out that Goodwin does write favorably about her subjects and perhaps skimps on criticisms. Although, I remember her not being completely positive about Lyndon B Johnson. She was very close to him during his last months and so I am sure she saw many sides of his personality.

Okt. 30, 2012, 11:18am

Goodwin has a besmirched reputation among historians so I am not sure that I would say that she is the writer of legitimate history. To put it bluntly she was caught lying.

She had been cranking out best seller after best seller at a prodigious rate when she was caught plagiarizing the work of graduate students who worked under her. Put simply she copies whole passages of their work, pasted it into hers and did not cite them or even list them or their work in her list of sources. The problem surfaced and caused a scandal in the academic world about the same time as the Joseph Ellis and Stephen Ambrose scandals. The three of them rocked the historians tight-knit little world, and had ripple effects all through academe. Goodwin was sued and lost. her book on the Kennedy's was the major culprit but there are parts of the book on Lyndon Johnson that was also plagiarized. All copies of her book on the Kennedy's were to be pulled from the shelf. Corrections had to be done and the book was then republished. She had been a well known "talking head" pundit on the TV talk-show circuit, and for a long time none of them would touch her.

Team of Rivals was her come-back book. Every dot and tittle of that book was scrutinized by anybody who remotely considered themselves a Lincoln historian and then rechecked by every American History historian in the country. If she had made a mistake on this one, she would have been a pariah, and she knew it. In fact her miraculous resurrection as a historian is now the subject of phoenix like legend in academe. Fortunately for her, the public has a much shorter memory than do academicians. It will take more than this one book to restore her reputation to its former illustriousness in those circles.

Okt. 30, 2012, 12:34pm

Did. Not. Know. Any. Of. That. Thank you so much for that Benita. God I love when LT opens my eyes to something.

Okt. 30, 2012, 12:54pm

Me, too. Thank you for clear, concise and completely understandable explanation. I am impressed she even tried to make a come-back.

I am still enjoying the book knowing that "popularized" history is most likely the only type I'll read, these days. I no longer have the patience to read the dry, academic type of history books. Not that I do not appreciate "real" historians. I do, I just will probably not read their books.

Okt. 30, 2012, 2:14pm

Wow... Like said, I'd never heard of her before, but that's pretty serious. I do respect her for trying again though, that must have taken a lot of courage. And I guess with the scrutiny this book was given she probably didn't slip up this time...

Bearbeitet: Okt. 30, 2012, 3:23pm

>26 benitastrnad:. Thank you for saying so. If I'd posted the same, I would have been either dismissed, ignored, or slammed, since I have previously committed the BIGGEST SIN of this 75 group of posting as a {{shudder}} conservative.

What Doris did in her JFK book is called PLAGIARIASM. It's amazing to me that she has been allowed to have a do-over in this Lincoln book--although I shouldn't be so amazed, since her leftist politics line up with about 90% (95%?) of the academics in this country. Had she been a conservative, her career would have been OVER--period.

I would add that I think it's a fine idea to read her book. She's not a bad person, but she isn't an excellent historian, either. Her book is a good example of how readers need to understand who is writing, and that a writer, no matter what their reputation as historian or biographer, has an agenda. Doris Kearns Goodwin has an agenda.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 30, 2012, 11:19pm

I haven't heard of Doris Kearns Goodwin before this, but I only barely remember the Stephen Ambrose case. It's possible this all happened before I was really aware of historians.

I think it's interesting that she was caught plagiarizing her own students. In science, that happens all the time...professors are always taking the work of their students and presenting it as their own...only, of course, they generally use the "royal we" when talking about their work. And, of course, everyone knows that they didn't personally collect this data and often didn't even come up with the idea. Is it possible that at the time Doris Kearns Goodwin was caught plagiarizing, that the rights of graduate students were only JUST being recognized by the historical community?

ETA: Ah! Never mind. I see that she plagiarized phrases from published works. That's a bit different.

Okt. 31, 2012, 1:11am

There are some tricky shoals, though, aren't there. It is a bit like a discussion on another thread about whether it is fair to criticize an author of a work of fiction who uses themes and conflicts that are previously explored in other works of fiction. Questions of quality and quantity arise I mean how many different ways have we read about Romeo and his girl friend, and their sad sad demise?

Okt. 31, 2012, 10:14am

Purposely lifting entire sentences out of another book is unforgivable. However, I imagine most cases of this are simply sloppiness rather than purposeful plagiarism. Having now read Doris Kearns Goodwin's defense of herself (as well as Stephen Ambrose's defense), I can actually relate to how she feels. While doing scientific research, I can spend years looking through hundreds and hundreds of papers. I take notes on the information I find in those papers, and then years later I have to spit it all out again in my own words. Sometimes when you're sitting around at 3:00am reading a paper and taking notes and all you want to do is finish up and go to bed...it's difficult to rephrase sentences. It's easy to get sloppy and just scribble down a partial sentence and think "I'll rephrase that when I'm more awake." Then, later it's unclear what you've rephrased and what you haven't. Been there. It's hard. Therefore, I can fully believe that these people didn't realize they were plagiarizing at the time that they wrote the book.

In Goodwin's case, she plagiarized sentences written by her grad student that were likely in her (Goodwin's) notes before the student's work was published. And like I said, there's a lot of borrowing of info that goes on between students and professors...I imagine it's difficult to keep track of who wrote what, once all those notes are mixed up.

In Ambrose's case, he was pumping out the books so fast, that he would have been going through a lot of other people's information while doing research. Such speed generally comes hand in hand with sloppiness.

No, I'm not trying to excuse the plagiarism. There's no excuse for that sort of sloppiness. But I think that being sloppy is less deplorable than intentionally plagiarizing. And I can certainly relate to the torture entailed in years of researching and rephrasing.

Okt. 31, 2012, 2:39pm

Rachel, I think I know what you mean. Being especially rigorous is sometimes tedious, too. Depends on your personality I guess. I am afraid that these days "plagiarism" is just so darn easy to do with "Cut and Paste" and various on line research tools.

But I do think taking something from your student's work is pretty bad. I understand that sometimes it is difficult to sort between yours and mine when it comes to collaborative thinking.

BTW, could you put links here to the defenses you read by Goodwin and Ambrose? I'd be interested in taking a look at them.

Okt. 31, 2012, 4:16pm

The Ambrose case is a little different. He lied and it has been proven. He said that he did research at the Eisenhower presidential library and archives in Abilene, Kansas and records from that library do not show that he was ever there. In addition he cited interviews that he did with president Eisenhower at his Gettysburg farm. Again, records show that he had one interview with Eisenhower for one hour. He simply fabricated the others.

I agree that in Academic circles it often becomes difficult to cite ideas because once they get floated around they sort of become community property. For instance, few remember that the term "Marble Man" was coined by historian Thomas Connelly in reference to Robert E. Lee, but most people, those who read anyway, know that it refers to Lee. But in the case of Goodwin, it was a little more than that, even though she says it wasn't. With the Kennedy book, whole passages from her graduate students work was lifted, and never cited. It was so blatant that the publisher asked bookstores to send back the unsold copies so that they could be shredded. I think that the academic world would have excused simple inadvertent idea exchanging, but this was a little more than that. Or so it seems.

I do think that Goodwin is a talented writer and historian and as one of the first widely popular women historians with clear writing talent the TV Talk Show circuit couldn't resist putting her everywhere. For her part, she probably didn't resist that much either, as it is rare for a historian to be so prominent. I think she has done some excellent work, and I from all accounts from historian friends of mine, (one who has a 75 pound bust of Lincoln in his home because he won the Lincoln prize for historical writing) Team of Rivals is very good work that brings out the fact that Lincoln was a shrewd politician as well as having the ability to manage people with diverse talents in order to get something done. I would like to read the new work on U. S. Grant that has just been published The Man Who Saved the Union as this talks about Grant and his relationship with Lincoln. I also think it is imperative that I get around to reading Drew Gilpin Faust and her book This Republic of Suffering because I need to understand how the war changed popular thinking about war in general.

In the grand scheme of things Goodwin will probably never be totally free of questions about her work. She has chosen to rise to the occasion and produce, what might be, the best work of her career. Bottom line for me is that there are lots of really good historians who are talented writers that explore so many different aspects of events that it is hard to disqualify an authors entire body of work because of some bad decisions. It has always been the burden of the reader to read as much as possible and learn what they can about events. The author doesn't make the decision for us about what is truth - we do. We do that by reading widely and often. I think it is wonderful that the reading public questions authors. Doing so makes us all smarter.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 1, 2012, 8:18am

I'm about halfway into Chapter 2. I find Goodwin's style to be engaging, for the most part. I've seen her a good bit on the Sunday morning political shows, and she writes the way she talks--rather earnestly and breathlessly. I can imagine her at a cocktail party, leaning forward, grabbing someone's arm, trying to get in just this one more point.

I thought Chapter 1 was fascinating, with the introductions of Henry Seward, former NY governor and U.S. Senator, Ohio governor Chase, and Judge Bates of St. Louis. The Republican party obviously had a deep bench for their 1860 presidential candidate. I'm looking forward to finding out exactly how a man who had "served but a single term in Congress, twice lost bids for the Senate, and had no administrative experience whatsoever" (27) was able to become the candidate over these other more-qualified men.


I don't give Goodwin the pass on the plagiarism that some do. I don't think it was quite so benign as she would like to recall it being, considering there was a financial settlement. If plagiarism were so "easy" to commit without fault, then we would see it everywhere. I taught writing at the university for five years, and one of the units I emphasized the most in my freshman writing class was correct vs. incorrect attribution and use of others' material. My students learned what plagiarism was and how not to do it--both intentional and unintentional.

Here is the sort of thing she was accused of doing, and if she would do it once, my guess is she made a habit of it. This is from her Pulitzer-prize-winning book on FDR (remember that the plagiarism charge came from her Kennedy book):

Original, from a previously published book: "If, as happened once or twice, one of its members sought to violate it and try to sneak a picture of the President in his chair, one or another of the older photographers would 'accidentally' knock the camera to the ground or otherwise block the picture."

Goodwin's version: "If, as occasionally happened, one of the members of the press corps sought to violate the code by sneaking a picture of the president looking helpless, one of the older photographers would 'accidentally' block the shot or gently knock the camera to the ground."

Goodwin's version is quite consciously changed--she obviously was aware of what she was doing. Her paraphrase of the other published material is too close, and in any freshman English class where the subject is taught, it would be considered plagiarism.

If she's the "great historian" people say she is, why was she relying so heavily on secondary sources, anyway?

Bearbeitet: Nov. 1, 2012, 8:32am

Today I begin my first 25 pages! And as you all are my witness , I will stick to it!!

I've learned so much from the posts regarding Goodwin and plagiarism. Very insightful information!

Nov. 1, 2012, 8:17am

Becky, I think I have admired Goodwin's work not because it, in itself alone, is so excellent but because she has accomplished what so few have in making American history come alive and appealing to an average reader. I do not excuse her sloppiness when it comes to plagiarism, and I am very concerned that the practice of stealing others' work is more prevalent than it was, however I still enjoy her work and will read it. My admiration for researching goes to Robert Caro and his work on Lyndon B Johnson. He and his wife have created a remarkable body of work in that multivolume biography. I am somewhat afraid he may not be able to finish as he is getting on in years, as am I. He gives credit to his wife for her researching but I do notice the books are not credited to both of them as authors.

Nov. 1, 2012, 8:17am

Dieser Benutzer wurde wegen Spammens entfernt.
Dieser Beitrag hat von mehreren Benutzern eine Missbrauchskennzeichnung erhalten und wird nicht mehr angezeigt. (anzeigen)

Bearbeitet: Nov. 1, 2012, 9:09am

Lynda! Welcome to the 25 pages/day crowd. Seems that idea has caught on. I think I am still on track although yesterday I did not get an entire 25 pages read. I fell to sleep early, and slept through the entire night. Must have needed it!

I'll be interested to hear what you think of the beginning of the book.

ETA: need to fix some misspellings. Accident! {-;

Nov. 1, 2012, 8:26am

I think questions of plagiarism can be hard to solve, because you cannot really check whether somebody actually forgot where they got a sentence from or if they were aware of the source and simply ignored it. That being said, though I can see Rachel's point (post #33) that it can at times be difficult to keep track of everything, I would expect you to forget a source only incidentally, and not on many occasions throughout the book. Also, I can imagine copying a single sentence 'by accident', but not entire paragraphs (or you would need to have an incredibly good memory). So, yeah, I'm a bit doubtful on the truth of Kearns' statement that it was an accident.
But, like said before, I do respect her for trying again, I think it really takes courage to start writing again after you got caught plagiarising.

I have started reading and read the intro and first chapter, and I love it so far. I really think her style is great, so I think I will be enjoying this book very much. I'm rather grateful for the first chapter starting at the beginning and introducing the characters; obviously I've heard of Lincoln, but I've never heard of any of the other men that ran for president then, so it's good to have a bit of background :)

Nov. 1, 2012, 9:31am

Re: 34 I didn't really rigorously look up their defenses, but just read what it said on Wikipedia about their plagiarism scandals. I'm sure there's better information on the subject out there...I was just trying to an idea of what they were accused of.


Anyway, hopefully we can set aside controversy and just enjoy the book. I bet it has not one plagiarized sentence in it. ;)

Nov. 1, 2012, 2:29pm

I agree! Read on!

Nov. 1, 2012, 4:43pm

>42 The_Hibernator:. Rachel wrote, Anyway, hopefully we can set aside controversy and just enjoy the book.

Well, I don't think you meant to say that we need to set aside all controversy in order to enjoy this group read. Rather, I think you might have been saying (correct me if I'm wrong) that you're tired of the plagiarism controversy posts, and you'd like to move on to what is in the book. That's fair. I don't think you meant to say that we all need to agree about DKG's take on Lincoln. I hope not, anyway, because I can almost guarantee you there are things she writes about Lincoln that everyone won't agree with--that, in fact, are controversial. But isn't that part of the enjoyment of a group read--hearing different points of view expressed?

I've had to pack away about 70% of my books because I'm working on the upstairs rooms of my house. I knew this would cause me grief. There are three books already that I wish I had access to: One is Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War, by David Donald. Donald has also written Lincoln (published in 1996). Both of Donald's books have been sitting unread on my shelf. Now they're both in a box. Oh woe. The other one that I think is really excellent (and overlooked by a lot of Lincoln readers), and one that I have read and highly recommend, is The Young Eagle, by Kenneth J. Winkle (published 2001 or so).

I notice that DKG references Winkle's book; I only wish I had access to my copy so that I could see the context of the quotation she takes from his book. In chapter 2, Goodwin writes about the early years of the four subjects of this biography. In the section about Lincoln, she writes, perjoratively, that the Lincolns moved "from one dirt farm to another," citing Thomas Lincoln's "lack of ambition" as the source for his "relentless poverty" (47). Well. (BTW, what the heck is a "dirt farm"? It must be something bad, but I have no idea what DKG is referring to there.)

My third g-grandfather, Preston Denton, born in the same year as Tom Lincoln, lived essentially the same life that Tom Lincoln lived, moving from Kentucky to Indiana to Illinois. Preston isn't found in the same county or state more than once in all the census records he appears in. For a long time, I had my doubts about Preston; however, since reading Winkle's book, I've come to have something of a different take on what he and his neighbors might have been like. I see the same kinds of qualities in Tom Lincoln. Rather than some sort of ignorant ne'er-do-well that just "somehow" persuaded two brilliant women to marry him and also from out of nowhere, evidently, had this exceptional son, Winkle suggests that his "ceaseless westward movement" was typical of the age in which he lived. Pioneers like Thomas broke the land and prepared the way for the "civilizers" (civilizers--like his son Abraham, or like Seward, Chase, and Bates), who built towns, became educated, and bought refinements. The pioneers moved on, because they were people who preferred to get away from the demands of civilization--of competing, adapting, and sharing. They felt squeezed by all that bustle and growth and grasping; they prized the freedom to loaf over the hard work and stern ambition that we see in the people of this biography--like Chase, who is a perfect example of exactly what the pioneer-types were not.

Goodwin doesn't have too much to say about Thomas Lincoln, but what she does say is the familiar stereotypical line, and I wish it's something she might have looked at more closely.

Nov. 1, 2012, 5:56pm

Interesting take on those who moved westward. As Seattle, and by extension Alaska, are sort of on the edge of that westward movement I've heard some theories about it, and some various descriptions of those who end up in western Washington and Alaska. There is at least one prominent historian of the US who considers the experience of the ever moving west frontier to be central in explaining "the American experience". Everyone is raised with the idea that everyone can move on and re-invent themselves.

Nov. 1, 2012, 6:14pm

A few years ago I went to Springfield, IL. and stopped at the Lincoln home. It is a National Historic Site and under the Park services jurisdiction. it had been over ten years since I had been there so I thought it was time for an update. To my great consternation it was closed for renovation. Has anybody on this list been there? There was a very nice exhibit in the museum about Tom Lincoln. (I think it was a special exhibit and probably isn't there now.) In that exhibit it said that there is very little known about Tom Lincoln, but the speculation is that he was a pioneer in the same sense that Daniel Boone was - he was more of an explorer than a settler and felt the need to move on frequently.

Salmon P. Chase is another interesting character. Chase County Kansas is named for him. It is the only county in the U. S. named for him. Chase County Kansas is in the heart of the Flint Hills and has a beautiful Italianate style courthouse that was built in the 1870's. This is a fact, that as a native of Kansas, I was unaware, until the publication of William Least-Heat Moon's book Prairyerth. I had also forgotten that Chase became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court because Lincoln appointed him, but that comes later in the story. Funny how so prominent a man in those times, could be so overlooked in our times.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 1, 2012, 6:43pm

I did feel it somewhat odd that she sort of skims over Thomas Lincoln... I guess if there isn't that much known about it that explains why she doesn't go into it any further, but from what she writes it seems like his storytelling did have a lot of influence on Lincoln.
I appreciate Becky and Benita pointing out that he might have been more of an explorer than a 'loser'; it's rather easy to put him down as a loser just because he didn't have a career or money, when indeed for some people a more nomadic lifestyle is a choice.

ETA: I liked the fact that she wrote about Chase's thoughts about changing his name. I mean, what kind of a name is Salmon? Who would call his child Salmon? I can very much understand mr. Chase's doubts :)

Nov. 1, 2012, 8:40pm

Just bought the book on my Kindle this morning before I get too far behind and am really looking forward to it!

Nov. 1, 2012, 8:50pm

Yes, I've been neglecting the thread! Bad Mark. But at least I'm chugging along at a pretty good pace, thanks to the audiobook. Thank you audiobook gods! I just started chapter 14. McClellan, "Gorgeous George" is butting heads with Lincoln. Actually butting heads with just about everyone. I never liked this man and Lincoln was way to tolerant. I wonder what might have happened with a better general in charge? It could have made a big difference, in the early going.

I love the discussions going on here. It's to bad about Goodwin and her tainted reputation but I think she's doing a stellar job here. I'm sorry to hear that about Ambrose too. Undaunted Courage was one of my favorite NF reads!

Nov. 1, 2012, 9:36pm

Welcome, Cushla. Glad to have you join us.

Mark, if you have been neglecting us it is because you are making such good progress through the book! Wow.

Nov. 1, 2012, 9:55pm

Haven't started yet, but HAVE found the book and placed it on my nightstand! And I'm enjoying the background discussions.

Nov. 1, 2012, 9:58pm

Roni- Be careful, it might tip your nightstand over! Could cause a nasty injury.

Nov. 1, 2012, 10:16pm

So far, I'll I've done is stroked the cover of the book saying "oooo, purdy" and then flipped through and looked at the pictures. ;) But I'll get to it eventually.

Nov. 1, 2012, 10:17pm

Dive in!

Nov. 1, 2012, 10:25pm

Rachel- Whatever you do, don't poke TOR with a stick. It might bite. Good luck. Once you get started, it'll draw you in.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 2, 2012, 4:31am

I stumbled across an interview (Diane Rehm show on NPR) about this newly released book: Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America's Most Perilous Year by David Von Drehle. Fascinating how this most written about President continues to attract attention. And I do wonder if the current strong divisiveness between political parties on the eve of our Presidential election reminds people of this previous era. Where are the parallels, and where are the differences?

It seems to me the communication system in Lincoln's time is a crucial element to consider. Von Drehle stated during the interview that the telegraph had a huge influence on Lincoln's growth of power in office. This will be something to keep in mind when I get to that part of Team of Rivals.

Nov. 2, 2012, 6:22am

I have the feeling that Goodwin's smooth writng style will carry me through this tome efficiently.
Hard for me to imagine a group of candidates without pollsters, celebrity endorsements and a pack of hungry media drooling at the bit. Seems politics at that time was more pure and untainted by outside influence. Shoot! Lincoln didn't even have a campain, so to speak.
But hey, what do I know, I've only finished Chapter 1. Because I am not a historical scholar I wouldn't know when and if Goodwin plagiarized, I'm just enjoying the story, however I can see how a purist may be struck by such a thing.

Of the four candidates, I immediately got a distaste for Chase and Bates. Anyone else feel the same way?

Nov. 2, 2012, 8:12am

Lynda.. that is what I found when I read the book. It was very engaging. I had no idea of any controversy then, and now that I do.. it makes no difference to me. IT was a mistake she made in the past, it was corrected and hopefully she will be able to just move on. I enjoyed TOR ...and hope to read other work of hers in the future.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 2, 2012, 9:51am

I'm using the 25-pages-per-day strategy that others are using to get through this thing. It's working pretty well, although I've gotten bogged down in Chapter 3, "The Lure of Politics." I understand that DKG wants to introduce us to these people, since I imagine not three people in a thousand know who they are, with the exception of Lincoln; however, I'm not sure I needed the level of detail she provides about each of them in this chapter.

In Chapt. 3, I found the story of Seward, Thurlow Weed, and the Whig party to be the most interesting. I wish she had given us more about the friendship of these two and Horace Greeley. Greeley is a fascinating fellow, the founder of the New York Tribune. Maybe we'll get more about that connection later, since she says they had a quarter of a century's collaboration.

>57 Carmenere:. Lynda, I had the thought, as I read Chapter 2, that the country was very fortunate not to have elected Salmon Chase as president in 1860. It's hard to imagine how different the country would have been with him as president instead of Lincoln.

Chapter 3 shows that Lincoln was a very shrewd politician (p. 89 in my paperback edition). He spent eight years in the Illinois state legislature, and when he campaigned, four times in eight years, he was involved with every detail of campaign organization. While campaigns may have been different back then than they are now, I don't think it's accurate to say that Lincoln didn't have a campaign in 1860. But I have no doubt DKG will tell us all about that in a later chapter.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 3, 2012, 7:59pm

I am approaching Chapter 10. The stuff about the convention and the campaign has been interesting. I am just on the verge of Lincoln's being elected Pres. Lincoln's choice to not speak during the campaign because the opposition would be able to twist anything he said made me think maybe President Obama should have stayed in the White House and pleaded "too much work". hahahaha

I also enjoyed reading the incident where a little girl wrote him a letter suggesting a beard.

Nov. 3, 2012, 11:42pm

Just picked up my copy at the library today. I will start in on it tomorrow.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 4, 2012, 6:00am

>60 maggie1944:. Wow, Karen, you've really zoomed ahead. Chapter 10! Weren't you the one who was reading this thing at 25 pages a day? Obviously you really caught fire with this, and my hat's off to you.

I read a lot of biography/history/political books. In fact, I just finished a book of nearly 1,000 pages about the 1980 election--so I'm used to books like this. Despite that, I'm really struggling with this one. I find this book to be a very strange combination of interesting/excrutiatingly dull.

I wish I were the type who could skim books, because this one would certainly be a candidate for that, but I'm not. So....I'm diligently plodding through this one, and I'm finally (whew--page 250, a third of the way through) to the point where Old Abe has received the Republican party's nomination for president. I'm hoping that Lincoln's presidential years will be more consistently interesting; I only hope it doesn't take us half of the book to get through the election.

Anywho, this isn't meant to discourage anyone. I'm just throwing in my two cents about how the book strikes me. I'm sure others will have a different take on it.

When I was a kid, I read a lot of Readers' Digest condensed versions of books. Oh for the RDCV of this one! Actually, an editor might have been useful. Don't they have those at Simon & Schuster anymore? Maybe not.

Nov. 4, 2012, 3:07pm

#62 Becky, i'm struggling a bit too but I haven't given it long enough yet for that to be very fair! I hope I get more into it soon. I'm finding her writing style a little excitable, or something. I am keen to read it but have just finished Truman and this is suffering from the comparison so far - but reading this with the group should help me get into it. And for me, her earlier plagiarism IS a big deal and I tend to put authors with ethical problems to one side, so that is colouring my feelings still. There's a trade-off that I make that isn't very well thought out when I choose what to read next, but I have been putting off reading 2 books by Orlando Figes because of his behaviour with reviewing his competitors' books.

I am off to read some more now!

Nov. 4, 2012, 3:09pm

I read the first chapter last nigh--obviously coming along a bit more slowly than some of you!

Nov. 4, 2012, 5:47pm

I do like the book so far (am up to chapter 6 now), but I think I understand your point, Becky; she is quite extensive about pretty much everything, and it even becomes a bit repetitive, like when she's describing the relationship the candidates have with their wives, which she does several times. Each time with bits of new information, sure, and new quotes from letters, but it does get tempting to skim over it a bit.

I do find the book a bit hard sometimes, since my background is just very different and I know little of the political issues at stake in the US in Lincoln's time, so I do have to go back to previous chapters occasionally. Lots of names too, so yeah, not a very 'relaxing' read...

Anyway, still enjoying myself, just trying to trot along at a steady pace :)

Nov. 4, 2012, 6:39pm

I was thinking that she seems to have put some extra effort into giving credit to other historians for prominent ideas or conclusions. I feel like she may have been writing on egg shells, a little bit.

Nov. 4, 2012, 7:03pm

Well, I've just finished Chapter 2 and am enjoying the book so far. This is the first book I've read about Lincoln or the Civil War so I have alot to learn.

I find the fact that DKG plagiarized sections of her previous book(s) to be disturbing but from what I can see she went out of her way to make sure that didn't happen with ToR. And since I've never read any of her books till now, I don't have any particular feelings about her as an author that the plagiarism charges would conflict with. I remember reading several of Wallace Stegner's books and loving them before I found out he most likely plagiarized portions of his Pulitzer Prize winning novel Angle of Repose. I was crushed when I found that out. I will, however, be steering clear of Goodwin's books on the Kennedys and the Roosevelts.

One of the things I liked in Chapter 2 was the discussion of the influence books had on Lincoln's life--that they were the majority of his education and something that was hard to find time for in his early years when he had to help his father take care of their land.

Karen, I happened to hear about 5 or 10 minutes of the NPR interview with David Von Drehle on his new book about Lincoln. This is a link to the transcript of that interview if anyone's interested: http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2012-11-01/david-von-drehle-rise-greatness/tra.... I haven't read too much of it because the book concerns the year 1862 and I figured I'd save it for when I get there with ToR. In the beginning, Diane Rehm mentions that publishers estimate there have been 16,000 books written about Lincoln. It boggles the mind. And to think I haven't read any of them up to now.

The other thing I found when poking around the internet about ToR is that CBS This Morning has just started a book club and ToR is their first selection. This is all part of a book promotion (a new version of ToR was just released) and DKG will be on CTM on November 15th to discuss the book and that's the day before the movie will be released. What I was interested in was they were going to have people comment on their facebook page about the book. For whatever reason, I can't open the link to the comments. I don't know if it's just me or there's something wrong with their page.

Anyway, I guess that's it for now. I expect I'll be reading the book pretty slowly but I'm thrilled to have the group read comments to refer to. I really don't think I would have picked up the book and continued with it if not for this GR mainly because it's just so long and I am not a disciplined reader these days (unlike Mr. Lincoln).

Nov. 4, 2012, 7:09pm

It certainly was a different time when books were read, and re-read, because there were so few of them in the house. And many of the speeches the politicians wrote used references to literary "tropes" (I think that is a correct use of the word) which everyone who had any education would understand.

I'd better go check and see if I really mean "tropes".

Nov. 4, 2012, 11:55pm

>63 cushlareads:. Cushla, I read Truman some years ago and loved it. I would read anything David McCullough writes. I think it would be difficult to go right from his writing to hers. Good luck!

>67 phebj:. Pat wrote: CBS This Morning has just started a book club and ToR is their first selection

Interestingly, CBS owns Simon & Schuster, TOR's publisher. And I agree, the number of books about Lincoln is just mind-boggling.

In Chapter 6, "The Gathering Storm," DKG goes into the story of Charles Sumner and how he was beaten on the floor of the Senate by a South Carolina senator for an antislavery speech he gave to the Senate. The whole period of the 1850s, the arguments about slavery, and the issues that led up to the Civil War (or the War between the States, or the War of the Rebellion, or the War of Northern Aggression, or the War of Secession--whatever floats your boat) are covered in a very interesting book (Pulitzer Prize winner) by David Donald: Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War. I highly recommed it.

One thing that I wish DKG had included in this book, and considering her spotty history, I think she ought to have included it, is a selected bibliography. She includes pages and pages of notes, but if I want to know what references she's used for this book, I have to pick my way through the notes, something I'm not likely to do. There's a 1960 or so book of essays (republished in about 2001) by the same David Donald who wrote the Charles Sumner biog. I'd love to know if she used anything from those essays. The book is Lincoln Reconsidered: Essays on the Civil War Era. Donald has written other books on Lincoln as well, and it would be interesting to know if DKG informed her study with those, particularly one called We Are Lincoln Men: Abraham Lincoln and His Friends.

Nov. 5, 2012, 12:22pm

I am proceeding slower than the rest of you. I only have 50 pages read so far. Each historian has their own style of writing and Goodwin seems to be trying to be a a very earnest storyteller so far. Of course, whenever I have seen her as a political pundit she also seems earnest, sometimes overly so. I always figured that it was because she knew that people were watching her very closely so she has to be very careful and convincing.

You wouldn't think that Kansas would have much of a connection with Lincoln, but it does. Aside from "Bleeding Kansas" and all the guerrilla and border warfare that occurred there for ten years prior to the war, and even during the war, there are many connections to Lincoln to be found in the state. The girl who wrote Lincoln the letter about growing a beard, ended up living in the very small town of Delphos, Kansas. Delphos is located in the central part of the state, just north of Salina, KS. Delphos is not far from from my home, so everybody in that region knew the story and is probably very tired of hearing it.

Nov. 5, 2012, 1:17pm

>70 benitastrnad:. Delphos is located in the central part of the state, just north of Salina, KS. Delphos is not far from from my home

My mom was born in Hutchinson, KS. Her dad was a railroader, so they lived in Hutchinson, Newton, & Dodge City during her growing-up years. I've been back and forth on I-70 a thousand times between St. Louis & Denver for the past 20 years to visit family, and I've often broken up the trip by staying in Salina when I'm driving by myself.

I agree with your "earnest" assessment of Goodwin--that's a good word to describe her.

Nov. 5, 2012, 1:19pm

>70 benitastrnad: I'm still on chapter 3 due to RL distractions.

She, DKG, is being very careful. Someone mentioned that she is repeating some things on the four candidates. At first I thought it would be annoying, but because of everything going on in RL it is helping me keep track. I don't know much about the "rivals" so her repeating is keeping me from confusing them. I may get tired of it later, but for now it helps.

Nov. 5, 2012, 2:25pm

# 70, 71 & 72 I'm right with you guys. My 25 pages a day is already off as I'm still in Chapter 3. Perhaps a day will come when I can read more than 25 and even myself out somewhere down the road.
Never the less, I'm enjoying the book and particularly liked this regarding the demise of the Southern "Code" of dueling: "The code preserved a dignity, justice and decorum that have since been lost to the great detriment of the professions, the public and the government. The present generation will think me barbarous but I believe that some lives lost in protecting the tone of the bar and the press, on which the Republic itself so largely depends, are well spent."
I wonder, in today's world, if just the threat of dueling would change the political landscape :0}

Nov. 5, 2012, 2:46pm

>73 Carmenere: I tagged that quote with a post it! I wonder the same thing. The threat of loss of life would do wonders for our manners and civility.

Nov. 5, 2012, 3:59pm

Not a very happy thought, but I certainly do see some logic there.

Nov. 5, 2012, 4:41pm

I'm about 1/4 of the way through the audiobook and enjoying it very much. It's impressive to me that Goodwin didn't let past failings destroy her career but moved ahead and wrote this wonderful book. Good to know that past mistakes don't have to obliterate all the good you can do in life.
Things I especially like about the book are the contrast between the earnestness and lack of humor of Case with the melancholia but engaging humor of Lincoln, and the extreme religiosity and judgmentalism of Chase with his apparent lack of loyalty. I'd always thought of Lincoln as kind of reluctantly accepting his party's nomination, but Goodwin shows what a talented politician he was - always thinking of the future and anticipating everyone else's moves. I know there's been a bit of a push to mark Lincoln as a homosexual and was amazed to see the deep passionate expressions of love between all the men in the book with their friends. One of my least favorite expressions of all time is God doesn't give you more than you can bear. Poor Mary. While death was a big part of the suffering of all the people in the book, Mary seems not to have had the constitution to deal with so much. Maybe if Edward had lived she would have been much different.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 5, 2012, 11:39pm

>76 Citizenjoyce:. I'm about 1/4 of the way through the audiobook

I notice that there are two versions of the audiobook: abridged and not abridged. I wish they had offered the same thing in the print edition--I would have gone for the abridged edition, no doubt about it.

>76 Citizenjoyce:. It's impressive to me that Goodwin didn't let past failings destroy her career but moved ahead and wrote this wonderful book

Goodwin was fortunate that her past failings didn't destroy her career with other people, like her publisher. Not everyone gets the multiple do-overs that she has apparently been granted.

Added. If I sound out of sorts about Doiris Kearns Goodwin's plagiarism, I am. It's very difficult to teach students that plagiarism is wrong when you have a popular historian caught in a plagiarism scandal and then goes on to make big bucks on a new project.

Nov. 5, 2012, 8:07pm

Well, perhaps finding another analogy of some error someone makes, a serious one, and then goes on to show that they've learned from their mistake and go on to be honorable, valuable people. One example comes to my mind is Michael Vick although I do not know many of the details, and I know some people still hold a grudge against him, but he did pay a price and seems to have learned from the experience.

I do not think people's lives should be thrown away because they exhibit some bad judgment, or even some dishonesty. Really, I like the "he who lives in a glass house should throw the first stone" idea. None of us has a perfect history with nothing wrong done in the past.

Nov. 5, 2012, 8:14pm

I've finished the first 4 chapters (140 pages) and so far have not found any repetition tedious. Btw, born and raised in Abilene, KS, just 20 miles east of Salina!

Nov. 5, 2012, 9:45pm

My audiobook is the unabridged, 2 part, 36 CD one and I wouldn't have it any other way. I find with a book this big, some retracing is helpful.

Nov. 6, 2012, 11:52am

I think that some "retracing" of historical events and people is inevitable in a book of this scope. When tracking the lives of four people some of that will happen. The overlapping helps me to make all the pieces of the puzzle fit, and so far it has not been annoying. When I read Warmth of Other Suns that overlapping did get annoying for me. That is the worst case of repetition that I have read in some time. For me it detracted from the book, but I also understand that some of that is inevitable.

Another reason why it happens is that books like this are written over long periods of time. It is easy for the author to repeat. It is up to the editor to catch that sort of thing. Editors are in short supply in the publishing world these days and editing is often left up to graduate students. That is why professors like Goodwin often have lots of graduate students working for them. I suspect that in Goodwin's case, she said in the introduction that she wrote this book over a span of ten years, that the repetition happened due to her obvious desire to avoid any controversy which made her more careful. This carefulness is displayed throughout the entire book, and combined with a natural overlapping of story line due to the amount of time between when passages were written creates some of this repetition. It may also be that the repetition is done deliberately to drive home points that she wants to make sure that the reader remembers.

Nov. 7, 2012, 1:40pm

I'm still on track with the 25 pages per day schedule...

I'm finding many surprising things while reading, so I'm really enjoying getting to know more about the past :)
I'm very amazed at the relationships between men, which seem so close to romantic affairs, and so true and heartfelt; I can't imagine any men these days expressing their feelings for each other like that. Perhaps we should try to value our friendships more, instead of the quick and superficial relationships we seem to have these days.
I'm also really enjoying the discussions of the politics. I have to admit I know little of the entire slavery dilemma and it's interesting to read more about it. Shocking, sometimes, to think that other races were considered so inferior, but still a good thing to know more about. I'm also thinking I should probably read up on the constitution and declaration of independence. There's a lot of talk about how the slavery question relates to the ideas of the founding fathers of the USA, so it would be nice for me to know a bit more about that.
And I really like Lincoln so far :) I have to say I have a great respect for him, reading and teaching himself new things, spending so many hours each day studying and working... That man really had some self-discipline! I'm thinking I should work on that myself some time ;)

Nov. 7, 2012, 2:19pm

He really was something special, it seems. But I think that era put a good deal of value on "self discipline". No one even much mentions the concept these days, it seems to me.

Nov. 7, 2012, 5:15pm

I'm changing my mind rapidly on Team of Rivals - had a really good run at the book yesterday (80 pages, mostly at the hairdresser's) and am into Chapter 4 now. Still a long way to go but I'm loving the detail about Chase, Seward and Bates, none of whom I'd heard of before I got started. Britt, as you already said, who the heck would call their child Salmon? I had a quick look on the internet but can't see why they called him that - maybe it was a relative's surname...

Bearbeitet: Nov. 8, 2012, 2:35pm

Cushla, I was curious about the name of Salmon as well and discovered it to be a biblical name and often pronounced Salma. I think in the bible Salmon was from the genealogical line of Jesus.

Nov. 8, 2012, 10:50am

I have not read or listened to TOR in almost 6 days. Bad Mark. The good news is I've read the 1st 20 chapters. I will get back on it.
My audio is unabridged. That is the only way I listen to anything. This might have worked abridged but what do you leave out? How do you determine that?

Bearbeitet: Nov. 8, 2012, 11:02am

>86 msf59:. A good editor would likely have had some excellent ideas for ways this thing might have been more tightly written. Or maybe Doris could have helped us all out and left out every 10th word? It's just an idea.

I'm at Chapt. 19, "Fire In The Rear"

Nov. 8, 2012, 6:27pm

I am on chapter 3. I managed to read 20 pages as lunch today. (Do I get points for that?) One thing that has struck me in these early chapters is the influence of the women in the lives of most of these men. I just got done reading about Seward and his defense of William Freeman. His wife Frances came to the courtroom every day to support Seward. In fact it was her influence that made Seward defend the man. It was also her influence on his thinking regarding slavery that was so influential in his life. Sometimes we tend to think that women in the 19th century were just housewives and mothers, but Goodwin says that the evidence points to Frances Seward as being the intellectual equal of her husband.

Nov. 8, 2012, 7:37pm

I just started the book yesterday so I'm only on page 60 or so but I'm finding that the information about DKG has colored my reading and I seem to be reading tentatively, if that makes any sense. I just finished reading about Bates and I thought it was so interesting that he loved his wife and 16 (!!) children so much that his diary has more references to them than anything about his political life. I think that probably makes him a rare bird indeed. Most politicians are all business.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 9, 2012, 2:22pm

>89 brenzi:. Bonnie wrote: I'm finding that the information about DKG has colored my reading

Bonnie, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that by the time you get a little farther into the book, you will no longer be bothered by the information about DKG--you won't even think about it.

I'm at Chapter 21, "I Feel Trouble In The Air," and I'm finding getting through this book to be an incredibly difficult slog, which is certainly a minority opinion. I'm trying to put my finger on what is troubling me about this book, and I think I've discovered what it is, at least partially.

I just finished Chapter 20, "The Tycoon Is In Fine Whack" which covers the Battle of Gettysburg. After reading her description of the way the people in this book responded to the battle I felt--nothing. No horror, anger, or disgust; no shock or hopelessness; no sadness or despair. Nothing.

DKG chooses this quote to describe the mood in Washington after the three-day battle: "On the streets, 'Union men were shaking hands wherever they met, like friends after a long absence,' while the Copperheads had 'retired to their holes like evil beasts at sunrise'" (534). {The "Copperheads," for those who aren't this far in the book, were the Peace Democrats, those opposed to the war. They were called copperheads by the Republicans because they were likened to a venomous snake.}

She goes on to say that the "joyous occasion" (joyous occasion??) was "marred for the Lincolns by a serious carriage accident that took place on the second day of the Gettysburg battle" (535).

Maybe it's because the numbers of dead and wounded from that battle are so grotesque, they are simply unimaginable. However, I find her glossing over this battle, describing it as "tenacious fighting" (533), to be wounding and insulting to her own narrative. There were over 23,000 Union deaths, as she tells us on page 533. But in the next sentence, she says that Lincoln issued a "celebratory press release." Were people just immune or numb to such numbers? The Confederates lost over 28,000 those three days. Is there nothing more for DKG to say about 51,000 dead in three days except that the "joyous occasion" was marred by Mary Lincoln's carriage accident?

If the people in Washington were insensible to such numbers, wouldn't this be a good place for a historian to offer some analysis of their response? Evidently the people were responding to a feeling of "victory"; they were feeling triumphant, and possibly relieved that now, perhaps sooner rather than later, the war would end. Maybe what they were feeling was akin to a sort of manic giddiness. However, for DKG to refer to it in any context as a "joyous occasion" seems to me to be--I'm struggling for words--superficial, shallow, trifling, unprofound--choose your own word--but above all, not worthy of her subject.

I offer this discussion of DKG's Gettysburg as one example that shows why I'm experiencing this book to be "History on Prozac." Goodwin is so relentlessly earnest in her sentimentalized and wooden portrait of Lincoln, consistently portraying him as jolly, calm, kind, and fairminded. For the love of God, the man should have been tearing out his hair! From other books that I've read about him, I believe Lincoln was a far darker and more complex figure than Goodwin's stubbornly monolithic sunny portrait of him. Actually, I hope he was. However, I'm afraid that this popular "New York Times bestseller" history will become "the" set piece for the way we view Lincoln for a long time to come.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 9, 2012, 10:19am

Here's a message to Mark: I think it would be absolutely appropriate in every way for you to put your photo of Obama reading Team of Rivals on this thread. I hope you'll do it. Maybe we should have a vote? I vote yes.

Nov. 9, 2012, 3:37pm

I'm not finding her portrayal of Lincoln sunny at all, Becky - of course I am only in Chapter 4. I think she's spent plenty of time discussing his depression, both specific incidents and his general depressive mood.

I've just finished reading about Chase and some of the early anti-slavery cases and would like to read more. I can't get your recommended book about Charles Sumner here in the public or university libraries - any other suggestions?

Nov. 9, 2012, 4:02pm

>92 cushlareads:. cushlareads writes: I can't get your recommended book about Charles Sumner here in the public or university libraries - any other suggestions?

You bet. Amazon.com. Used books. Paperback bargain price: $2.59 plus shipping.

Nov. 9, 2012, 4:18pm

I've finished Book 1 of the 2 part audiobook, plus another CD, that's 16 out of 36. Lincoln has been elected and inaugurated without being assassinated, has appointed his cabinet and is trying to figure out what to do with Ft. Sumter. I can't believe how well he worked with these guys considering how little respect they showed him. And apparently Seward, like many politicians these days, can't believe he isn't really the one in charge. I love this book.

Nov. 9, 2012, 4:24pm

#90 I "read" this book last year, and in an audio version. But I remember that my overall impression of Lincoln was that he was generally a very sober man, if not downright morose. I don't recall this exact section, but might have taken "joyous" to be in connection to a military victory that could signal the coming end of war. Mrs Lincoln, OTOH, I can totally see as considering that any personal hardship of hers would overshadow whatever was happening in the war. (Can you tell that I'm not a fan of the former First Lady?)

Nov. 9, 2012, 4:32pm

#93 Becky, thanks, doh. I haven't bought from Amazon's physical store for ages and ages - the shipping to NZ usually makes it not competitive against Book Depository, which doesn't have the book. And it's showing a Kindle version that isn't coming up on my Kindle! I can get it new for a whole $7.59 US.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 9, 2012, 4:47pm

>90 labwriter:, labwriter, as I was reading your posting it occurred to me that the death and carnage in the Civil War was totally unprecedented. No one, to that date, would have imagined the number of people who were killed in the huge battles such as Gettysburg. I imagine the original sources which Goodwin used did describe a happy population after a battle which they saw their side winning. No one knew how horrible this war would prove to be. It probably took many months after it was over for the real death and injury figures to be known.

I think Goodwin is attempting to tell the history without appearing to be emotionally involved. Her judgment on how the various people acted, or did not act, really is beside the point. I would not want her to express horror at the North being jubilant over a Northern victory. Nor would I want her to share her judgment about how brutal the slaves were treated in the South.

And, I must say that I doubt this book will become a set piece of how people see Lincoln given the large number of books already written about him, and the number of books which are currently being read about him, and most of all the production of a movie! About Lincoln. Steven Speilberg's vision of Lincoln has a good deal more chance of becoming a set piece for how he is viewed by large numbers of Americans.

Who plans on seeing the movie? Before finishing the book? While reading the book?

Bearbeitet: Nov. 9, 2012, 4:58pm

She's an historian. If she doesn't offer an assessment of the material she writes about, then why should she write at all?

You seriously think she's not emotionally involved? After 10 years of being involved with this project? Well, then, we disagree. However, I'm very interested to hear your point of view.

Nov. 9, 2012, 4:58pm

>90 labwriter: I haven't gotten to the war yet (I've just finished part 1 of the book), so I'll have to leave off comments till I actually read that part, but your comments do make me curious...

I find Kearns' description of Lincoln's mood/personality a bit confusing. She says he has episodes that are akin to depression, and has a melancholy constitution. Yet, she also often discribes him as being a jolly fellow, goodnatured, vivacious, kind, with a great sense of humour, always telling fun stories and anecdotes. At one point in chapter 11 she even gives a quote in which someone says a melancholy mood was 'uncharacteristic' for Lincoln. I get two very contrasting views from this, one being Lincoln as a serious, melancholy, indeed even morose man, but also a view of Lincoln as a more positive, goodnatured, happy kind of person. I'm just not sure what the 'real' Lincoln is actually like. Was he really so melancholy? Was he actually a more happy, positive person? Or was the story-telling and easy-going Lincoln more of a public facade, when he was in fact more melancholy than he was showing to others?

Nov. 9, 2012, 5:00pm

>97 maggie1944: I am planning on seeing the movie, but it doesn't come out until next year... I definitely hope to have finished the book by then ;)

Nov. 9, 2012, 5:26pm

Perhaps A. Lincoln was bi-polar? He may have been both melancholy and jolly. I think I am that way. I can be quite vivacious and other times very somber. Well, I guess I won't be meeting him any time soon, so I'll just have to see what the movie says. :-)

Nov. 9, 2012, 5:31pm

I was going to suggest using Inter-Library Loan so it is a good thing I didn't get my suggestion in earlier. I didn't realize you were in New Zealand. (Isn't that a great thing about Librarything - we can have book discussions with people all over the world!) The library where I work (a university library) will loan to university libraries overseas so perhaps other libraries will as well. However, I ended up buying a copy of this book instead of using our library because the book was constantly checked out and had holds on it. The last week of October I gave up and purchased a copy.

I agree with you about the prevailing view of popularized history becoming the "accepted" history. There is always that danger. Look what happened with history and "Gone With the Wind." However, in defense of Goodwin, there is so much written about Lincoln and the American Civil War, and so many people reading that material, that historians can make some assumptions when writing about that time period. They shouldn't do so, but I think it is understandable that they might do so. I also think that it is very hard for us, living in the time in which we do, to accept some of the mores and norms from another time period. The author Steven Pinker has a new book out Better Angels of Our Nature in which he debunks the supposition that the 20th century is the bloodiest century in history. He says that is not so, and that in past history that wars were much bloodier. (This is a book I would like to read someday.)

And, while I am defending people I will defend Lincoln as well. He was so desperate for a clear victory and probably thought that this one was so decisive that the South would quit fighting. Everything that I have read about Lincoln indicates that he was a very compassionate man and mourned over the loss of live on both sides. However, he also was a principled man and thought that a decisive victory was the only way to stop the evil of slavery and preserve the Union. It has been a long time since I have read it, but perhaps, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain's' speech to the men in his command the night before Gettysburg would help to clarify how people felt regarding, what they often called, the necessary carnage. James McPherson has has written several good books regarding why the men fought and died like they did in the war. For Cause and Comrades comes to mind. John Keegan, the great British historian also wrote on the subject of how people felt about battlefield carnage in Face of Battle.

It is also a good time to point out that the American Civil War presaged the First World War in its level of death. It was the first industrialized war and saw the introduction of many weapons of mass destruction including the Winchester Repeating Rifle. Trenches, and the Gatling Gun. All of these made it possible to kill on an unprecedented scale. Prior to Gettysburg, at the battle of Fredricksburg, General James Longstreet told General Lee that as long as the Yankees came charging up the hill his men could keep shooting them. (The Confederates were dug in on the upper slopes of the hill behind breastworks and in trenches and the Union army tried frontal assault after frontal assault and suffered casualties accordingly.) Six months later at Gettysburg, when Lee ordered Longstreet's men to charge uphill into entrenched positions, he almost refused. He did question Lee and Lee knew that Longstreet was reluctant, but he gave the final orders again. These generals knew that the loss of life was horrendous and they kept giving those orders.

Nov. 9, 2012, 5:36pm

I agree - a historian's job is to make assessments and provide context. Just as it is the job of journalists to provide insightful commentary and background of events they cover.

I just finished reading chapter 3 and in that chapter Goodwin discusses Lincoln's melancholy temperament and tells the difference between that and depression. I don't have the book with me or I would try to pin it down more so that you could find that passage. It might help you to understand what exactly Goodwin means when she talks about Lincoln's personality.

Nov. 9, 2012, 5:56pm

>103 benitastrnad: It's not really the difference between melancholy and depression that's the issue. I get that those are not the same. It's really the contrast between describing Lincoln as melancholy and descriptions later in the book of how he intereacts with people and quotes from people who meet him that seem contradictory...

Bearbeitet: Nov. 9, 2012, 7:13pm

#98, and #103, I believe that a historian also has the job of uncovering new information, or interpreting older information differently in light of new perspectives. Making assessments is different than making judgments.

When Custer's wife campaigned for the rest of her life, and it was a long life, to protect her husband's reputation it resulted in historians accepting for decades the idea that Custer was a brave leader of his men, all of whom were slaughtered by barbarians. We now know, in light of new information, that this might not be a very accurate interpretation of what happened. In fact, it might be just the opposite: Custer may in fact have been a bad leader who ordered men into an un-win-able battle. I think historian who attempt to withhold judgment, and assessments, may in fact be able to get closer to the actual events.

But in the end, all of history is seen through the eyes of the beholder.

ETA - My recent information about Custer came from reading Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan. An excellent book.

Nov. 9, 2012, 6:53pm

That is what makes the study of it so interesting. I also think that people should do more reading and studying to get more opinions and interpretations because it is easy to just read one book on a subject and be lead astray.

Maybe the war changes him? And changes the people around him? A person who meets him might project emotions and interpretations that might or might not be accurate.

Nov. 9, 2012, 7:28pm

#102 Benita and Becky I've found the book available on my Kindle after all and have just bought it (don't take any bets on when I *read* it though!).

Nov. 10, 2012, 10:31am

Just getting started but it's interesting to read through some of the comments here. It's a 3-day weekend so hopefully I can make some serious headway and actually join in!

Nov. 10, 2012, 5:46pm

I unexpectedly finished Team of Rivals today! I was reading it on my Kindle, and was at 55%, figgering I had a whole lot to go - and the whole lot turned out to be supporting footnotes and the index. I couldn't figure what more she would be writing - and all of the sudden I was done. Jeesh!

It was terrific. I had missed the plagiarism discussion. How silly. She does all this amazing research, and footnotes it like crazy, and then screws up like that. Plagiarizing sentences is just sloppy, as someone said, and she was so un-sloppy otherwise, she must want to smack herself.

I give it 5 stars, which I don't do often. Superb research, writing, and storytelling. What a man, what supporting characters, what a time. I have such a strong feeling for Lincoln after reading this. You can't help but wish you had a chance to meet this extraordinary man.

Nov. 10, 2012, 5:57pm

I'm a little more than halfway through now, the war has been going on for 9 months. I'm amazed at how conciliatory Lincoln was to the South - to the point of suggesting through Seward a constitutional amendment to guarantee no interference with slavery in the original slave states and his willingness to strongly enforce runaway slave capture laws. To this point, at least, he continues to try to ensure the rest of the country that the war is to preserve the union and is not about slavery. In light of the way the South has responded to the rest of the country in the decades since, it doesn't seem that preserving the country was the wisest idea. So many lives would have been saved by allowing secession; but I don't know that I share Lincoln's opinion that slavery would have come to an end on its own. I don't think the South ever would have given it up.

After reading My Name Is Mary Sutter I began to wonder how the Union ever won the war, and this even more sever criticism of McClellan, Fremont and Cameron continues that feeling. I also continue to be amazed that Lincoln didn't take any of the criticism and derision, even that directed toward him, personally but acted as a politician throughout.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 11, 2012, 9:03am

>110 Citizenjoyce:. Citizenjoyce wrote: I don't know that I share Lincoln's opinion that slavery would have come to an end on its own. I don't think the South ever would have given it up.

Consider this: The U.S. is the only country that found it "necessary" to go to war to end slavery. There were some in the 1830s, 1840s who advocated for compensating slave owners for their slaves. But any sort of compromising position was simply mowed down by the northern radical abolitionists. For them it was all or nothing. Period. It's reasonable to think that if this country had had a William Wilberforce speaking for abolition instead of a William Lloyd Garrison, slavery would have been abolished, but without the war. That's a mind-boggling thought.

There were precedents set and pathways taken to emancipation by other countries that didn't involve war, including these:

The Emancipation Reform of 1861 in Russia that essentially abolished serfdom. More than 23 million people received their liberty; serfs were granted full rights of free citizens.

The Slave Trade Act of 1807 passed by the British Parliament in 1807, making slave trade illegal throughout the British Empire.

The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire.

The first abolition of slavery in France in 1794, which abolished slavery in France and its colonies.

The second aboltion in France in 1848, which abolished slavery in the remaining colonies.

The usual figure for the casualties of the war is 620,000 dead. New research indicates the toll was actually about 20% higher--more like 750,000. That's the figure for those who died--of their wounds in battle, disease, starvation, etc.

Was the war necessary? Goodwin so obviously assumes that it was that she doesn't even seem to consider another viewpoint. I'm no expert on the subject, but I would suggest that there are excellent arguments made by experts that say the war didn't need to be fought. Slavery was a great evil. But I would submit that this war was also evil. Even Goodwin makes it clear that Lincoln blundered his way through this war. The price that was paid by both sides is simply beyond our comprehension.

The other issue that this book doesn't deal with is this: Did the South have the right to secede? That's an issue that can be intelligently argued on both sides. It is certainly not the "given" that Goodwin presents.

Goodwin writes popular history that aims at a wide readership. I find myself conflicted about whether or not best-selling, popular historians such as DKG are a boon or a curse. I guess it's not either/or--it's just not all that tidy or simple. It's also way off the beaten path of where I started for this post.

And this isn't getting the book finished. I'm at 682/754. I'll finish this thing today or go crazy trying. Maybe both.

Nov. 11, 2012, 10:29am

I do think Lincoln was probably right that slavery would have disappeared in time. Like Becky said, slavery disappeared all over the world, it seems kind of logical that it would also have gone in America, even without a war... The war really sped up the process of course, but yeah, I'm not sure if that was worth it, so to say...

Bearbeitet: Nov. 12, 2012, 12:24am

It appears that Lincoln offered many concessions that were rejected by the South. They wanted their slaves, and it seems to me they would have continued to insist on owning people no matter what. Maybe I was overly influenced by Better Off Without 'Em, but it seems the southern insistence on contrariness and victimization, their propensity to cut off their nose to spite their face, their insistence that everyone just needed to leave them alone to do whatever they wanted would not have lead to a rational appraisal of the slavery situation. Would slavery have lasted 10 or 20 or 50 more years? I don't know. Was the death of so many Americans to end slavery when they did worth it? Was it worth fighting a world war to stop the genocide of the Jews worth it? Very hard questions.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 12, 2012, 8:02am

I'm very happy to report that I've finished the book. I think I've made it pretty clear what I think of it, and I'm very aware that my opinion is in the minority. Enjoy your reading!

>113 Citizenjoyce:. Maybe I was overly influenced by Better Off Without 'Em.

Wow, the cover of that book is a stunner. Does the inside of the book include as many ignorant stereotypes as are used on the cover?

If you honestly think that WWII was fought to "stop the genocide of the Jews," then there's nothing more for me to say.

Nov. 12, 2012, 10:13am

I was actually just thinking, that indeed we might be asking the wrong question. Like Becky says, WWII wasn't about stopping the genocide, but likewise, Lincoln's start of the war wasn't about slavery, right? At the beginning, it was really about the secession, not about the slavery issue. Indeed Lincoln was saying that they would not abolish slavery in the southern states, even if they did get those states back into the union. So, maybe the real question isn't if stopping slavery was worth a war, but if keeping the union together was worth a war.
I personally have mixed feelings about the whole secession issue. We've also seen regions asking for independence in recent times, and often countries do whatever they can to keep those region in the country. But I just wonder if it's really that terrible? I mean, if a region wants to be independent, then why not just let it be independent? So far in Team of Rivals all that is said is that the northern states want to keep the union together, but there isn't much about why this is so important. Maybe I'm just ignorant, but I don't really see what's so terrible about splitting up... :/

Anyways, I am curious about Better Off Without 'Em... It sounds quite stereotypical indeed, and bigoted, but I would be interested in reading it.

Nov. 12, 2012, 11:17am

Britt84, my impression while reading TOR is that the people were so aware of the sacrifices and efforts of their ancestors, and the "founding fathers" and all that so they were very committed to "union" and "democracy". They really were hooked on the grand experiment of people governing themselves.

Nov. 12, 2012, 3:01pm

In my opinion the question of whether the South would have kept their slaves is a mote point. They would have kept them for at least another 100 years. (Some people say that in fact they did keep them until the Civil Rights Act of 1964.) What finally killed slavery was the automation of farming. Slavery By Another Name backs up that previous statement. When manual labor was no longer needed on the farms of the South things began to change. When men, women, and children did not have to harvest cotton, tobacco, and other specialized crops by hand it freed them up to stay in school and begin to think of life without being on the farm. Because harvesting and planting machines don't desire freedom their invention also freed the land owners to start thinking that it was OK to let people move off the land.

I think that the American South would have fought a war no matter what. Fighting a war is just part of the culture and Goodwin did a good job of pointing that out. Of course, nothing is ever a given, so there is always the possibility that the war would not have been fought if only a few things had been changed. However, I am not that optimistic. I think I would have just voted to let the states secede. Especially Texas. Most of it was stolen from Mexico and should be given back. :-)

My biggest question regarding the American Civil War is how did the Union win the war and yet loose it? Of course the losing happened after Lincoln's death, so that wouldn't be part of this book anyway.

Nov. 12, 2012, 3:34pm

No I don't think WWII was fought to stop the genocide, it was just a happy after effect, as ending slavery was a happy after effect to trying to preserve the union. As Maggie said people were so aware of the sacrifices and efforts of their ancestors, and the "founding fathers" and all that so they were very committed to "union" and "democracy". They really were hooked on the grand experiment of people governing themselves. Earlier in the book Lincoln or someone says that it was necessary to preserve the union to show the rest of the world that government by the people was a practical reality.
As for the stereotypes inBetter Off Without "Em, one need only look at surveys of the states in the US with the lowest education level or highest rates of welfare or to peruse the results of US elections for decades to see that there's something to them.

Nov. 12, 2012, 4:36pm

>116 maggie1944:&118 - Oh, yeah, you're right of course, the whole democracy thing was also at stake... It's still really alien to me, I'm not sure if that's because I'm not American or simply because I've lived in a democracy all my life and can't really relat to the 'proving democracy works'-thing. I guess for me the idea that a democracy can work is such a natural thing that I find it hard to see it as a reason to fight wars. It is good to realize that people fought for what we have now, that people were willing to die for this freedom, that it was a long struggle to reach the point where we are now. The thing is, I often find that it's hard for me (and other people my age, btw) to really imagine fighting for democracy, or wars, or those sorts of things. I mean, sure, I can imagine that wars are horrible, and I can imagine that it's bad to live in a country where there's censorship, or where you can't vote, but I've never really experienced anything like that, nor have my parents, so it's all rather far off...

Ok, I'm gonna go read some more...

Nov. 12, 2012, 4:42pm

>118 Citizenjoyce:. Citizenjoyce wrote: one need only look at surveys of the states in the US with the lowest education level or highest rates of welfare

I'd be very curious to know what part of the country you live in.

Nov. 12, 2012, 5:17pm

>120 labwriter: The west. I would say the libertarian west, but I'm thinking maybe that leaning isn't as strong as it was 4 years ago. I could be wrong.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 12, 2012, 5:38pm

>119 Britt84: Britt, I know what you mean. Before reading this book I didn't understand why anyone would be willing to go to war to preserve a union when half of that union didn't want to be preserved in it. The concept that we would be willing to kill hundreds of thousands of people for an idea still seems strange and completely unacceptable to me.

Nov. 13, 2012, 12:21am

I'm still chugging through the book with very little reading time this week and am really enjoying it. I don't have anything to add to the conversation above but am going to bow out of this thread for now.

Nov. 13, 2012, 12:30am

Cushlareads, I sincerely hope you'll continue to keep tabs on the conversation here, and when you have something to add, please do!

Nov. 13, 2012, 12:33am

I've been thinking about Lincoln's combination of melancholia and humor. It seemed so strange when I first read about it until I realized that that's a very normal combination for comedians. Maybe there are quite a few people who both feel the sadness of the world and know the uses of humor. DKJ does try to make the distinction between depression and melancholia, I can see how this could just be a variation of a normal personality rather than a manifestation of some sort of emotional disorder.

Nov. 13, 2012, 8:03am

I took a closer look at the book so approvingly referenced here, Better Off Without Em, by Chuck Thompson. Frankly, it looks like a sad piece of trash. I waited a day in hopes that someone else in the group would push back against the mention of Thompson's bigoted point of view against an entire section of this country. I'm disappointed and saddened to see that it didn't happen. I think I've definitely had enough here. I wish you all well.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 13, 2012, 8:18am

Before I forget, I just want to commend and thank those readers outside the US who are taking the time to discover more, good and not so good moments, of our history.

Better Off Without 'Em If I judged this book by its cover, I'd guess that it was written tongue in cheek.

Nov. 13, 2012, 9:51am

I had never heard of the book and did not look at it. I am working hard at reading TOR while the Hawaiian beaches are calling me! I spent some time yesterday buying some Hawaiiana clothes, and a new swim suit. I guess I'd better get back to serious reading. The weather is wonderful, wish you all were here and we could have a big book group meeting.

Nov. 13, 2012, 1:51pm

Hm Team of Rivals vs Hawaiian beaches - that's putting Lincoln to a pretty big test - maybe not as big as McClellan, but it would pretty hard for me to resist the charms of sun and sea.

Nov. 13, 2012, 1:56pm

I didn't look at the book either. I tend to take books with that kind of title with a large dose of salt and expect it to be tongue in check.

I must also say that I am pleased that we have some readers from other places around the world who are reading along with us. It must be hard to try to follow along with readers who are so passionate about U. S. history and debate every nuance. Please have patience with us.

I think that the reason why there is so much written about Lincoln and the Civil War is that it evoked such strong emotions and reactions in people who were living at the time and created such an atmosphere that they were willing to go to war and kill each other over it. I can honestly say that I have never felt that strong of emotions about anything in our recent history. I was against the war in Iraq and in Afghanistan and did join a protest against those ventures, just as I did the first Gulf War. I also didn't feel that much anger about the September 11 incident. In fact I can't even remember which year it was in. I realize that those reactions are not the norm, but when I compare it to the way people felt about slavery and its impact on the country I find myself at a loss. It all seems so abstract to me and that doesn't seem to change the more I read about it.

Nov. 13, 2012, 1:58pm

Yes, the thought of reading Team of Rivals in Hawaii like Karen is doing sounds awfully appealing. I did finish it while we were in a pretty balmy Orlando, in a nice location.

I had a very positive, 5 star reaction to it. For those interested, my review is here:


Nov. 13, 2012, 2:44pm

Well, I confess, the sand on the beach is a bit of a deterrent, too! Really, really do not want sand in either my camera or my computer. I think I may fall prey to buying small paperback of some sort, maybe about Hawaiian history, historical novel, or something just for the beach.

Nov. 13, 2012, 3:09pm

I'm into Chapter 10, so progressing although somewhat slowly. Still plan to be done by the end of the month. Also didn't bother checking out the book that upset Becky so. However, I was very struck by the portion of the book where the Sewards went into the South for a visit, and the contrast was so strong that Fanny insisted on turning around and going back home. This seemed quite an inditement of the economic structure of the South and I am wondering if there are other, perhaps more objective, sources for such a dichotomy.

Nov. 13, 2012, 3:43pm

I noticed that passage about the Sewards and their trip as well. It seems to have been a live changing event for both of the Sewards, but especially for Fanny, as it says later that she sat through all of the speeches that were given in Congress and took notes. Is it possible that she was the one with the more radical opinion and kept pushing Henry to be as well? There is no doubt in Goodwin's mind that these men all had women who were strongly political and in Fanny's case seemed to be especially so. As somebody said earlier, I am beginning to get quite a different picture of the women behind these men than I ever had of most 19th century women.

Nov. 13, 2012, 8:38pm

This has been such an interesting Group Read! The discussions have been excellent. And never boring that's for sure!
I'm closing in on the finish-line. There are the '64 elections. I find it interesting that the Senate/House election was a few weeks earlier than the presidential. Does anyone know why that was and when it changed?
I also read the burning of Atlanta and now I'm in the opening weeks of '65.

Nov. 14, 2012, 1:09am

I'm just at Lincoln's getting input on the Emancipation Proclamation. DKG says many in his cabinet were shocked as was I. I knew he'd done it, but I had a hard time getting from his insistence on not rocking on the boat about slavery to his proclaiming to end it. Then when I read his letter to Horace Greeley that said he'd end slavery if it meant keeping the Union together or he'd keep slavery if it meant keeping the Union together. His sole motive was keeping the Union intact. And to protect the delicate sensibilities of white folk he pushed "self deportation" of former slaves to a country in South America. This is not the Lincoln school kids in the US know about. It's about time I learned more about this.
I too was surprised to see the influence of women on the cabinet members. Go DKG! It seemed Fanny was saying all the things I wanted to say, she was ahead of her time.

Nov. 14, 2012, 2:14am

I too have found this thread to be really interesting. I a struggling to get much read while I'm in Hawaii. That probably does not surprise any one. I will keep at it, though.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 14, 2012, 2:31pm

From Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, March '65:

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."

This would have been a perfect quote for Veteran's Day! Lincoln's strong faith in God, really makes an appearance in this speech.

Nov. 14, 2012, 7:54pm

I am not sure that it is a strong faith in God as DKG says early on that Lincoln did not have any discernible religious faith. He stated several times that he did not believe in an afterlife and without that it is difficult to see that he believed in much of Christianity. He might have been closer to the Jewish faith than Christianity, or he may simply have been a deist. DKG does say that he spent his early years using the Bible and Shakespeare as a means to educate himself and so imbibed the rhythms and cadences of that language so much that it permeated all of his later writing and lent it a similarity to religious works.

Personally, I think he was blessed with an extraordinary empathic way of feeling and combine this with his erudite abilities he was able to express verbally what people were thinking and feeling.

Nov. 15, 2012, 1:20am

I'm only on Chapter 12 which is right after Lincoln's inauguration but I thought he favored having the slaves deported to Liberia in Africa, not South America. Does DKG say South America? I'd never heard that as an option in other reading.

Nov. 15, 2012, 4:06am

At first it was Liberia, then I think DKG says as he was writing the Emancipation Proclamation he was trying to convince African Americans to move to a place in South Ameruca that the US treasury would find a way to fund.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 15, 2012, 7:54pm

I finished it! I finished it! I thought it was a terrific read and that Goodwin did a stellar job. Thanks Karen for getting this going. I think we all needed a good kick in the pants, to pick it up. I'll be back with more thoughts...

Nov. 15, 2012, 11:11pm

Congrats! Mark, that is great. I am still so totally distracted by Real Life. The worst part is that I am having serious malfunction on my camera. Boo hoo hoo! But I will get back to the book. I promise

Nov. 16, 2012, 7:00pm

I wondered how many of the readers have been to Springfield, Illinois and to the Lincoln home? What about the Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C.?

Nov. 16, 2012, 9:26pm

I haven't started the book yet, but I have been to Ford's Theater. It was smaller than I expected, but a moving experience.

Nov. 16, 2012, 10:56pm

I have been to Springfield twice. The first time the park service had a vey nice tour of the home and a nice museum. The second time I thought I had stepped into historical Disney. Even thought Springfield is a working capital of a large state the downtown and the are close to the capital had the feel of an amusement park. There is a huge new museum that I later found out was built with private funds and contains no official papers. Lincoln's papers are at the Library of Congress. The more I read in this book the more the contrast between the commercialization of the historical downtown of Springfield and this man's life stands out. His tomb in the cemetery outside of town is very quiet and very Victorian in appearance.

I have not been to Ford's Theater but my sister tells me that she thought the restoration was very well done. I sort of wish that it would host performances since Lincoln liked them so much. Seems like a fitting memorial to me.

Nov. 17, 2012, 3:43am

I saw Lincoln today. I wanted to wait until I finished the book but just couldn't. In the book I'm just into the build up to the re-election of Lincoln, and the movie starts just after his re-election and concentrates on the attempt to get the House to pass the 13th amendment. It was very good and much more sympathetic to Mary. She's played by Sally Field whom I've seen twice this week on Tavis Smiley talking about the role, she does a great job as does everyone in the movie.
I think it's taken this far into the book - a little over 2/3 done - to see just how effective the members of Lincoln's cabinet were. There was back biting, but it seems they were very effective at their jobs. Lincoln seemed to have had a way of appreciating the good jobs people did without demonizing their human failings, perhaps too great an appreciation. That McClellan, lordamercy, he way overstayed his welcome. I was also impressed by how many of the generals did how much of their work while drinking. How oh how did the Union win the war?

Nov. 17, 2012, 10:25am

From my experience of my mother and father who were Army in and after WWII I'd say the generals still were doing much of their work while drinking. I sometimes think the "winner" of any war may be largely accidental.

Nov. 17, 2012, 5:43pm

You know, it certaily seems that way, Maggie. Hundreds of thousands of people die, generals cut each other off at the knees with their military jealousy, and all our lives hang in the balance. I hear there's a whole genre of alternate reality books about what the world would have been like if the South had won. I don't know that I'd have the guts to read them.

Nov. 17, 2012, 5:53pm

Nov. 17, 2012, 7:33pm

I saw that on Facebook and "shared" it there. I got a kick out of it.

Nov. 18, 2012, 12:00am

150> Cracked me up! I've spent much of this cold, rainy Saturday reading Team of Rivals and I'm very glad to have done so. I feel like I'm learning some things and it's an enjoyable read.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 18, 2012, 8:50am

We visited the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, in Springfield a few years ago. It was incredible. We need to make a return trip. We also visited his home on Eighth and Jackson. Beautifully restored, along with several other homes on the block, to their original appearance.

Joyce- That is the 2nd glowing LT review of Lincoln, that I have read. We plan to see it this afternoon.

Nov. 18, 2012, 1:09pm

That presidential library is the one that is privately funded. Unlike the Eisenhower, Truman, FDR, JFK, and Johnson libraries. There are only seven presidential libraries built and supported by the National Archieves. the others are all private libraries. There is nothing wrong with that,but I felt that I had been mislead by all the publicity surrounding the Lincoln library, (especially by all the advance stories on BookTV) into thinking that it was National Park Service Historic Site. If I donate money to one of these libraries Inlike to think that I am helping to keep the lights on. Not that I am supporting a single persons agenda. I too loved the house and the National Park Museum. and of course the bookstore. Adding the bookstores to all National Park Serivce sites was a wonderful idea.

This summer I went to visit White Sands National Monumnet with my sister. When we were through looking at the exhibits we made our way to the gift shop. When we left we had each about $30.00 worth of books. The ranger at the desk asked us if we were school teachers. Both of us are. she then told us that she could tell because we bought lots of books. She then told us that school teachers get a 10% discount on books at NPS shops. You can bet that I will be carrying that school ID with me anytime I think I might be visiting a NPS site. I need all the help I can get to support my book habit.

Nov. 19, 2012, 3:02pm

As a fan of The Farmer's Almanac, this appeared on my FB page:

The Old Farmers Almanac

On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. It said, in part:
"...It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Nov. 19, 2012, 4:21pm

I just listened to the part of the book that details the Gettysburg address. Like most kids in the US, I had to memorize it in school (do kids in the South also memorize it?), but it wasn't until this book that I finally got what it was about. Lincoln was afraid that if the country were allowed to break apart the world would be assured that regular people shouldn't be allowed to govern themselves because they couldn't compromise enough to keep the government running. This was why he went into the war, but DKG shows how Lincoln moved step by political step to follow - lead the people into outlawing slavery. His willingness to move slowly drove the radicals crazy, as it would have done me, but by darn, it worked.

Nov. 19, 2012, 7:54pm

"Shall We Stop This Bleeding?"

WOW! What a great film! I am so glad that I just finished Team of Rivals, so everything was so fresh. Yes, the bulk of the film is set in January '65, but there are so many references covered in Goodwin's book. I was so impressed by the outstanding writing but I also appreciated how quiet the film was. The score was very understated. I found myself leaning forward to listen to these men, as they discussed one of the most important pieces of legislation in American history.
I can't imagine anyone doing a better job than Daniel Day-Lewis. He nailed the role on every facet, playing Lincoln with fire, good humor, with deep introspection and with a twinkle in his eye. The large cast was excellent, with Tommy Lee Jones being a major stand-out as Thaddeus Stevens, who steals every scene he's in.

I tip my hat to Mr. Spielberg, for creating another masterpiece.

Nov. 20, 2012, 2:24am

Oh, boy, oh, boy, do I want to go see this movie! Thanks for an enthusiastic review, Mark.

Nov. 21, 2012, 8:37pm

I just finished the book, 5 stars from me. While I still don't have the stomach to read an alternate history about what would have happened if the South had won the war, I would like to read one about what reconstruction would have been like if Lincoln had been able to continue his presidency. I think this would have been a far different and happier country. The world is a better place for having had Lincoln in it, though I think poor Mary would have done much better if she'd married some rich Joe Schmo and been able to stay out of such enormous and tragic world events.

Nov. 21, 2012, 8:45pm

Congrats, Citizenjoyce, on finishing the book. Of course, I've already whined that I am way behind due to RL distractions like my vacation, but I have been working on it little by little. I am just past the challenge to Lincoln to fire Seward. My, my what weaves of complications were on his plate. The difference between administrations where most of the important communications were face to face, and where rumor, speculation, gossip, and conspiracies were everyday fare, and those of today with the Internet, Twitter, etc. is remarkable! Can you imagine a President today dealing with his/her cabinet as Lincoln did?

Bearbeitet: Nov. 22, 2012, 2:34pm

Well, Hilary is Obama's Secretary of State, though I don't think they're quite the bosom buddies Lincoln and Seward were. Wait until you get to all Chase's machinations. Lordamercy! I don't know that anyone else could have put up with that.
I was very glad for the epilogue. Early on I'd wondered what became of "Seward's Folly", but I got so engrossed in the war that I forgot it.

Nov. 22, 2012, 12:37pm

I have just passed page number 300 and I am enjoying the book. This morning on NPR there was a story about the Lincoln movie. The author of A. Lincoln, Ronald C. White, Jr. was interviewed and asked what he thought of the movie from an historian's point-of-view. White gave it a thumbs-up. He said that historically it was quite accurate. He did point out that the language was updated and modernized because people today don't talk like Lincoln did. Using so many references to classical and biblical literature and phrasing wouldn't resonate today. He also said that for many of the scenes in the movie there are no historical notes, letters, transcripts, etc., the kind of thing that historians of the more modern era rely on, so oftentimes we don't know the exact words that Lincoln used. I may have to break down and go to the movies this weekend and see this one. I usually don't go this weekend because I don't like the overcrowded theaters. Might be different this week.

Nov. 22, 2012, 1:29pm

You have added to the growing sense that "I must see this movie!" Thanks

Nov. 23, 2012, 6:37pm

So, how many folks do we have left who are still reading somewhere in the book? I'm just now to the Emancipation Proclamation and what a day that one was! Very interesting to read all the differing views of the day, and it reminds me a bit of the much clamoring around the Obama Health Care law. I hope Obama's sense of what the people will support is as good as Lincoln's was. Uncanny how Lincoln could listen to all his many advisors, with many strong and passionate and opposing views, and still have a sense of what people would support. And without much polling, too.

I appreciate the passion of the politicians of that day and I can see many parallels today.

Nov. 23, 2012, 7:53pm

I finished and REVIEWED the book but was not as big a fan as some of you. I thought the narrative was cluttered with too many fine details and minutiae that took away from the flow of the book and, frankly it turned into quite a slog for me. Liked it---didn't love it.

Nov. 23, 2012, 8:07pm

Karen, I'm still reading but very slowly. I'm at page 149 so I have a long way to go. I intend to finish but have no idea when that will be. Like Bonnie, I like the book but don't love it so it's easy to let a couple of days go by before I pick it up again.

I'm glad to be learning more about Lincoln and the Civil War and have already purchased two other related books because of reading Team of Rivals--Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness by Joshua Wolf Shenk and The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner.

I think this will be a book I'm glad I've read when I'm done (at least I hope so) and I'm glad this Group Read got me started. I definitely find the topic of the politics of slavery fascinating.

Nov. 23, 2012, 8:50pm

I'm still reading - on page 320, just before the inauguration. I'm enjoying it but not loving it - I don't go racing to pick it up. I'm learning a great deal about how the civil war got started, but like Bonnie I could do without some of the detail.

Nov. 23, 2012, 10:19pm

I agree with the above statements about this book. I like it but don't love it. I don't go rushing to find it and it is losing out to what is on TV and other things to do. Mostly it is losing out to the other books I am reading. I know I will finish the book, but I do wonder what all the hoopla was about? Perhaps it is just timing. The public was ready for a detailed narrative about Lincoln. All the hype about the movie probably adds to it as well.

Nov. 24, 2012, 12:29am

I'm still working my way through it -- I'm on page 165 and my plan is to focus on this for much of the weekend. I just finished a good mystery novel and will try to make some good progress in ToR before picking up my next fiction read. I feel like I'm learning a lot of nuance I had not previously understood regarding the politics around slavery and state's "rights" and the expansion westward.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 24, 2012, 12:38am

I'm halfway through the first term, 1862, and still making regular progress and hope to finish by the end of the month.

Went and checked--I'm on page 433.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 24, 2012, 10:10am

I carried the paperback version up the stairs last night, put it on the bed, and promptly climbed in bed and feel asleep! That is not the way to get 37 pages read every day! I am on page 516, and I think I have a good shot at finishing it.

My love for the book is just a part of my general love for histories, and biographies. I am glad people are liking the book, and there's no pressure to love it, as far as I can see.

Nov. 24, 2012, 7:19pm

I made much headway last night. We're now in Chicago for the convention. Fun!

Nov. 25, 2012, 11:59am

Tony Kushner, who wrote the script for the movie Lincoln was on Up With Chris Hayes yesterday. Here are a couple of clips of the interview. After that they go on to talk about The Affordable Care Act and how passing it compares with passing the 13th amendment.

Nov. 25, 2012, 12:18pm

Up until now I have been lurking but faithfully. The conversations here are so interesting-smart and well-informed and I like that there are different opinions stated. I am glad to see I am not the only one that has fallen behind. I have both the audio book and the book but RL has been brutal as of late, including 4 big dogs with explosive diarrhea. They are such darling patients though, nothing like humans, no whining, well, except to be let out to go..go..go..right now, please mommy! Poor things, only my oldest female, Lyla, seems to still have some remnants, the others are on the mend. I'm having some stomach issues myself, not sure what that's about, but was up late feeling pretty nauseous last night, into the morning hours. And of course, Nanowrimo, which I have made good progress on this weekend, happy to say. Anyway, I'll continue reading and would like to see the movie if it is playing nearby, maybe tonight. I love multi-layered history lessons like this, the book and the movie and the conversation on here all contributing to my gaining knowledge of the subject. Thank you all for your contributions.

Nov. 25, 2012, 12:20pm

Oh, I wanted to add that I saw an interview with the young man that plays Lincoln's son. He said that he didn't meet Daniel Day-Lewis until just recently...because he was so invested in the character of Lincoln that he was never himself until the shooting of the movie was over! I think that was verified by some of the comments above.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 26, 2012, 5:46pm

Everyone's wondering about the last scene in Lincoln. Here are some details about the movie:

Nov. 26, 2012, 11:41am

I read the article and found it fascinating. Spielberg has a reputation for using historians to consult on his previous pictures, and I liked his thesis statement about the difference between history and art. Very well thought out apologetic.

Nov. 26, 2012, 4:38pm

I'm only on page 189 as we took a little after Thanksgiving trip to Columbus, Ohio and visited the state capital. During the tour our guide told us that Lincoln stopped in Columbus on the way to his inauguration. He gave a speech in the House of Representatives while there and was so well rec'd he had to make another on the stairwell and then another on the statehouse steps.

Lincoln's funeral train followed the same journey as the inaugural train and he laid in state in the Ohio Statehouse rotunda. It was very interesting to be in the same building as Lincoln and also Ohio Governor, Samuel Chase.

Nov. 26, 2012, 5:58pm

>176 Citizenjoyce: Thanks for that link, Citizenjoyce. That's a fun and well-written article.

Nov. 26, 2012, 7:29pm

Joyce- Thanks for that great article! Dramatic license, right? So did Stevens have a black mistress?

BTW- I LOVED the film!

Nov. 27, 2012, 6:31am

Hi everyone!

De-lurking to say I am really enjoying the book. I only just starting Chapter 20 'The Tycoon is in Fine Whack', but I cracked the book open less than a week ago, so I am steaming ahead at a decent pace.

I am also listening to 'The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877', which is on Open Yale Course taught by Professor David W. Blight (http://oyc.yale.edu/history/hist-119#overview). The lectures are freely available on itunes and youtube. Professor Blight is a real character and these are fun and extremely informative!

Nov. 27, 2012, 7:58am

oh, thanks for the link. That looks interesting. You've caught up with me in reading. I am having trouble finding the time to read. But I intend to finish before the month is gone (I think I may need the weekend, but I'll call it accomplished soon)

Nov. 27, 2012, 12:53pm

>180 msf59: From the article it looks like she was well known as his common law wife.

Nov. 27, 2012, 12:55pm

>181 ominogue: ominogue, thanks for the link.

Nov. 27, 2012, 1:06pm

You're very welcome!

Bearbeitet: Nov. 27, 2012, 5:07pm

I'm not going to finish this book in November, but am trying to commit to one chapter per day (maybe two on weekends). I completed chapter ten last night. It's really a great read, but I like simul-reading some fiction with it.

ETA: Thanks for the link. I will definitely watch/listen to the first lecture at least!

Nov. 28, 2012, 8:38pm

Just de-lurking to say that I'm way behind reading TOR because I got hold of the book rather late, and am juggling multiple reads. So I don't have much to say that hasn't been said. But I'm here.

Nov. 28, 2012, 9:11pm

I have reached the halfway point and today I read almost fifty pages. This afternoon I had the book with me while waiting for a Doctor's appointment. The Doctor is a reader too, and she asked me about it. I told her that I had heard so much about this book and what a wonder it was that perhaps I had over estimated its impact because so far there was very little that I didn't know. What was new, was the author's slant on the events. The writing is very good and smooth, but other than that it is a typical work of non-fiction.

So far what does impress me is the philosophical arguments of the main political players of the day. The sophistication of these arguments is astounding. All three of the candidates for the Republican nomination of 1860 had very well thought out philosophical arguments that backed-up their positions and these arguments were very nuanced and detailed about the finer points of the Constitution. I am not sure that these arguments would fly in today's politics. The Doctor told me that she had read the John Adams biography by David McCullough and she had much the same reaction to Adams in the sophistication of his arguments and the depth of his political philosophy. All this made me wonder how men who didn't have the number of years of education as a high school student of today had the audacity to formulate and develop their political philosophy and then take these arguments on the road and convince others of the validity of their arguments? Whether you agree with their political philosophy or not, it is simply amazing. But maybe, not so strange after all, when you consider that people in 1860 were only 80 years away from the Declaration of Independence. The idea of a democracy was so much newer then than it is now. I think this is why Lincoln used the line "Four score and seven years ago" in the Gettysburg address.

Nov. 28, 2012, 9:46pm

From the reading I've done it seems that these people hearkened back to the Age of Reason when people valued thought. Even without our modern education they valued reasoning, logic, philosophy and science. They didn't learn information to pass a test, they didn't feel constrained to uphold a religious treatise, they learned things in order to understand how people and the world worked. It's amazing the things a brain can do if we encourage it.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 28, 2012, 9:50pm

I have thought about this quetstion, too, and I think your pointing to their proximity in time to the original founders, and their creation of a brave experiment, plus education was highly valued, rare, and not universally available can account for some of the reasons why political philosophy was so prominent. There was big motivation to become educated. And then, there is the fact that there was not too much to do in the evenings - no TV, no video games, not that may bars or singles events. Well, maybe this last factor was not too influential. There was not much electricity either. Lincoln was fabled to have studied by candle light, and I thought it was very interesting that he had few greatly valued books and he read each many time. Maybe that is an important difference. Less information, more depth.

I doubt any politician today could articulate such logical and well thought out political philosophy.

Nov. 28, 2012, 10:10pm

It is the depth and subtleties of the arguments that is impressive. It is clear to me that many hours of thought went into the formulation of these arguments. It is also clear to me that once Lincoln formed his basic political philosophy he did not deviate from it very much. For instance he was very careful to not retreat from his position to hold on to government property and installations such as Fort Sumter and then retake them if they were captured, but at the same time to not be aggressive about it because he did not to change his position.

I think that the Age of Reason is a very important point. Thought and reasoned apologetic's were valued. The enlightenment philosophies are very evident in Lincoln's, Seward's, and Chase's political philosophy.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 29, 2012, 4:42pm

It is close to the last day of November when the scheduled time for the group read of this book should end. I have been amazed at the response to this book from the readers in this group read. I have never participated in a group read that went to two threads with one of those at almost 200 posts. I think this speaks to the mystic of the man - Lincoln, and to the power of the times in which he lived. There is no doubt in my mind that aside from the American Revolution itself, the American Civil War was the single most defining event in American history. It was during this period that we as a country decided if all men were created equal - or not. This is a very powerful and provocative idea and the resolution changed this country.

I am about to cross over to 400 pages in this book and that is a little more than halfway. I will finish reading it. I don't know yet if it lived up to my expectations, but there is no doubt that it has had an impact on the popular life in this country through the written word and the visual through the medium of the movies. I believe that the popularity of this book is due to the continued popularity, curiosity, and historical charisma of Lincoln. I am glad to have read this book and been able to discuss it with my fellow readers. I hope to meet some of you in some of the group reads coming up this next year. There are some scheduled already and I am sure that there will be those spontaneous group reads of books that will attract our attention. However, I am sure that few of them will match the participation and level of engagement that this book achieved. Happy reading everybody.

I will continue to post here until I finish - and that may take awhile.

Nov. 29, 2012, 6:59pm

192> I'm with you. I'm even a bit behind you.
Just starting chapter 11, page 305. Will continue to work my way through it at my own pleasurable pace and will certainly finish it in December.

Nov. 29, 2012, 7:53pm

I am planning on leaving my star on this thread. I'm not finishing as I'd hoped by tomorrow, but I think I will Do Nothing But Read on Saturday, excepting I might have to drive to a Wonderful Nursery and meet one of my best friends and exchange Christmas gifts; and I have a date with the Apple store. OK. I think I'll probably Do Nothing But Read on Sunday!

Nonetheless, I will finish the book and I"ll be reading in this thread to the end.

I also think a huge issue settled at the Civil War was whether each State is totally sovereign and can leave the Union whenever. The Federal Government does have weight.

Nov. 30, 2012, 6:34am

I'm taking this "Team" into December. I'll be back to this thread often so please keep posting if you're still reading.

Dez. 1, 2012, 6:16pm

I finished this at bedtime last night, thereby managing to complete the November group read of this book within November. I've been working on it for the last 3 weeks, interspersing fiction with chapters from this book. I knew general history about Lincoln and this period but this was the first really intense treatment for me. It was fascinating reading about the personalities of this time and the relationships among the men on the Cabinet. I was entranced, except when my mind would wander to the historically inescapable tragedy awaiting me at the end.

Dez. 1, 2012, 8:35pm

Congratulations on finishing during November. I fully intended to do that but have been in a reading slump + finding too many other things to do: washing dishes, mopping floors, etc. You know.

Nonetheless, what a great book and opportunity to learn some important and interesting history! And yes, the relationship between the leaders was very interesting as was the ways in which the women contributed to the times.

I am so glad you joined us, Roni, and I look forward to more group reads in 2013.

Dez. 2, 2012, 1:48pm

Went to see the movie yesterday. It was excellent!
Got motivated and came home and started reading again. He's inaugurated, secession is happening.
Lynda, I'll keep this Team going into December right along with you.

Dez. 3, 2012, 12:04pm

I am still reading as well.

I agree with the women thing. It is amazing how much these women contributed to the policies that these men espoused, promoted, and then helped to make law. Wonderful stuff.

I am astonished at the popularity of this movie here in the South. For most of the twenty years I have lived here I have found in intransigent believe that is imbedded in the culture that makes it impossible to recognize that the Antebellum period was anything other than idyllic. I thought this movie would be in town for only a couple of days as a result of this hardcore believe. To my surprise the movie is a hit down here.

Dez. 4, 2012, 12:48am

Thank you for your kind message, Karen. Without this group, ToR would still be sitting in the tbr pile, so I am grateful to you for getting this started!

Dez. 4, 2012, 6:16pm

I just finished reading the chapter titled "He was Simply Out-Generaled" chapter 16. The story about Lincoln going to the front lines and actually directed an attack was incredible. It reminded me of the recent trips that our Presidents have made to combat zones.

Dez. 4, 2012, 7:53pm

I just finished Chapter 22 and was very impressed with the description of the speech at Gettysburg. Also, I really appreciated an early map of Civil War Battles - so many were so close to Washington D.C.

Dez. 5, 2012, 5:27pm

I think that the hallmark of a good non-fiction work is the inclusion of maps. It is so aggravating to not have maps when you need them, and they really help me visualize where things are.

Dez. 5, 2012, 9:54pm

Just got through reading about Lincoln's April 1863 visit to the front lines with his family. I can't believe that a President and his entire family just traveled to a war zone. Wouldn't happen today. I am also amazed at the openness of the White House. All those public receptions. The fact that the rooms on the bottom floor were considered public rooms - in the real meaning of the word - is astounding. That too wouldn't happen today.

Dez. 6, 2012, 4:30am

I imagine the public rooms were such because the whole democracy thing was so new, and such an experiment. The idea that "the people" were equal to those in the government was remarkable, unusual, and celebrated. It is hard to wrap our heads around that idea as we have moved back closer to a point of view which reinforces stratification in society. Modern security procedures make it very clear who is and who is not "acceptable".

Dez. 6, 2012, 6:50pm

I suspect that you are right. We were a whole country of people who believed in a meritocracy. That is very egalitarian. Doesn't matter who you are - you are equal. I also think that the population of the country so much smaller back then, so there was an expectation that our leaders would be accessible.

I am sure getting a different picture of Mary Lincoln in this book. Her work with the hospitals is something about which I knew little. I may have fallen victim to the prevailing trends in historical gossip with this one.

Dez. 8, 2012, 3:00am

Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, who can't agree on anything, have invited members of congress to a screening of Lincoln:

>206 benitastrnad: Benita, I found the book over all to be pretty anti Mary Lincoln, but was also impressed at the depiction of her work in the hospitals.

Dez. 8, 2012, 8:20am

According to the Kindle app on my MacBook, I am on page 634 of 749. I know I am approaching the end.

Although I have often and at length declared my appreciation of political biographies here, I must agree that DKG's style is not the easiest to enjoy. She does write in a manner which reminds me of the worst of University text book history. I know it can be done better and my most recent bio where I really loved the style was Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan. Much easier to stick to a book and finish it if the style of writing is more enjoyable.

Nonetheless, I have learned a good deal about Lincoln, his times, the war, and the people around him.

Dez. 9, 2012, 1:09pm

I've finished it and will write a review later on today. I gave it 3 stars - learnt heaps, liked some of it, but found the writing turgid in places and overloaded with detail - especially about Kate Chase's wedding!! Still, I know much more than 6 weeks ago about US politics at the time of the Civil War and I am really pleased about that. Thanks for organizing the group read Karen.

Bearbeitet: Dez. 11, 2012, 9:29am

I'm still plodding along with ToR, having gotten hold of the book late. I've settled into a pace of about a chapter a day. I'll finish shortly before Christmas at this rate. Some parts are very interesting; some contain no new info for me. This is the first book I've read by DKG except for her memoir Wait Till Next Year, which was (of course) in a totally different (and very readable) style. ToR is much slower going for me.

Dez. 11, 2012, 9:44am

I have about 100 pages to go, and I have to say that I don't really understand why everyone is so excited about this book. For me it has been a run-of-the-mill standard work of non-fiction. I find that Goodwin has no sense of story. This is like reading a history textbook. It definitely will NOT make my best of the year reads. I think that what is attracting people to it, is Lincoln. Like several of the readers comments above I find that this book as some parts that are interesting but the majority of the book contains nothing new. I don't think I am jaded, I just think that because I read, I have read most of this before in some other book about that period of time. I think at the bottom of this is a mystic about Lincoln that just won't go away. Maybe that is because he was the first president to be assassinated, or it might be because of the time. Nothing like a good war to make heroes out of people.

Dez. 11, 2012, 10:18am

I certainly do not disagree with you, especially that DKG's style is much like that of a history text book. I'm enjoying it because I have not read much about this era, and I think Lincoln was a unique guy. He seemed naturally to have good political instincts and could see the psychology behind people's behavior. A bit "ahead of his time". perhaps.

I have about 100 pages also and I'm dragging my feet badly, but I will finish this book!

Dez. 11, 2012, 12:06pm

I loved this one, and thought she did a masterful job pulling together the story. The writing style was fine by me, and this was such a wonderfully full picture of the times, the main players, and Lincoln. It captures Lincoln in a way we haven't seen before, and that's both personally and contextually. Diverse reactions to books are the norm, but it seems to me this is a high quality effort however you may look at it.

The film's great, too, btw.

Dez. 11, 2012, 12:32pm

It was the film that really brought Lincoln to life for me rather than the book. I think there are too many "characters" in a way and will next look for more of a biography of just Lincoln to read. I cared about Seward, Chase and Bates more in the beginning of the book and now that I'm approaching the middle (I'm at page 329), I find myself getting tired of hearing what's going on with Chase and Bates.

Since I don't know much about this period I'm glad I'm reading the book and I will finish it but there's something about the writing style that seems to hold the characters at a distance. I'm finding it hard to feel like I know them.

The thing I'm enjoying the most is finding out about the slavery debate and the distinctions between the abolitionists, the people who wanted to keep slavery in the South and not extend it into the territories, and the Southerners who wanted the freedom to bring their slaves into the new territories. I didn't realize how much Lincoln had to dance around the issue of whether blacks were equal or not and deserved things like the right to vote.

I hope I don't sound too negative because I've enjoyed this group read and have gone back to read the comments as I make progress in the book and it's fascinating to see the range of reactions to the book which I expected to all be positive considering it got the Pulitzer Prize. And the bottom line is I wouldn't have continued on with the book if not for this GR and I am learning alot.

Dez. 11, 2012, 6:02pm

I think I got sucked in by all the hype about the book and so had my expectations set way too high. I don't think it is a bad book, I am just not sure it is as good as what I had been lead to believe. I do think it is a standard kind of non-fiction. I just read the part of the book where she was telling about how Lincoln loved the theater and tying that in with Seward's love of the theater. These little parts of the book make it interesting enough to keep reading, but I do have to say it isn't what I would call a scintillating read.

Dez. 13, 2012, 12:13pm

I just got an email from PBS announcing their Winter/Spring lineup of new shows and thought this one looked interesting:
Tuesdays, January 8-22, 2013, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
Vividly bringing to life the epic struggles of the men and women who fought to end slavery, THE ABOLITIONISTS tells the intertwined stories of Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Angelina Grimké, Harriet Beecher Stowe and John Brown. Fighting body and soul, they led the most important civil rights crusade in American history. What began as a pacifist movement became a fiery and furious struggle that forever changed the nation. Black and white, Northerners and Southerners, poor and wealthy, these passionate anti-slavery activists tore the nation apart in order to form a more perfect union.

Dez. 13, 2012, 2:16pm

Looks good. I hope I remember to watch it. Thanks, phebj.

Dez. 14, 2012, 11:33am

I can not believe how slowly these last pages are going for me. I have about 60 pages left and I am determined they will be read today!

Dez. 14, 2012, 12:16pm

I have 60 pages left too. They are going slowly.

Dez. 14, 2012, 1:44pm

I am just now passing by the Second In augural speech. The inevitable sad ending to this book is slowing my progress, I think. Plus I am "playing" with my iPhone apps, etc. Bad Reader!

Dez. 14, 2012, 4:17pm

Stalled. Again.

Dez. 14, 2012, 6:15pm

I am finished. Such a sad ending. Even knowing it, I still had to cry a bit. So much tragedy.

I am very glad I read the book. I learned a great deal about the Civil War, about the political cross currents during the war in the north, about the character of the men around Lincoln. What a giant Seward turned out to be, and I will never again be able to speak of Seward's Folly without realizing how unfair that term is. How fortunate the U.S. was to have him, as well as Lincoln.

I'll sit on my completion for a bit before I write more of a "review". But I am glad to declare: Finished!

Dez. 14, 2012, 6:16pm

Congrats, Karen!

Dez. 14, 2012, 6:35pm

Congratulations Karen!

Dez. 14, 2012, 6:36pm

Thanks! I feel relieved as well as good about it. It was a good book, and I was delighted by the lively and interesting discussion on this thread. Thanks to all who participated.

Bearbeitet: Dez. 18, 2012, 10:56pm

I just finished. My overall impression: I found the first part, giving the backgrounds of the various men, a bit tedious -- though quite necessary. As we got into the actual Lincoln administration, and began to see the interplay of the various personalities within the cabinet, I thought the book got much more interesting. This is obviously the angle DKG was aiming for, and it gave me insights I hadn't gotten from other books about Lincoln and his times.

Dez. 19, 2012, 7:39am

Congrats on finishing! It was an interesting group read and I look forward to doing some others in the future.

Dez. 22, 2012, 4:27pm

I finished too! The end was just like the rest of the book - a study. It was not the best nonfiction work I have read this year,but it is not the worst either. Like others I have enjoyed the group discussion and thought it added to book. I doubt that I would have finished it if I hadn't had people with whom to discuss it. I have had a great deal of fun with the group discussions this past year. Even if I did not finish David Copperfield. I still have that book and will finish it at some point. This book was a snoozer for me. I found it a study. I have said all that before on this thread so won't beat a dead horse to death repeating my opinions. I was glad for the input from all of you.

Dez. 22, 2012, 4:39pm

Congratulations on finishing Terri and Benita! For the moment (hopefully), I have put Team of Rivals aside and am reading A Tale of Two Cities with another LT group read. To my surprise, I'm enjoying ATofTC.

Jan. 4, 2013, 10:05am

Yes, it still says "November 2012" at the top of this thread.
I have one more chapter to completion! Woo Hoo!!

Jan. 4, 2013, 10:27am

I'm still reading this thread, and will cheer with you!

Jan. 4, 2013, 4:37pm

Go for it, Ellen!

Jan. 4, 2013, 4:42pm

Dieser Benutzer wurde wegen Spammens entfernt.
Dieser Beitrag hat von mehreren Benutzern eine Missbrauchskennzeichnung erhalten und wird nicht mehr angezeigt. (anzeigen)

Jan. 4, 2013, 5:12pm

I believe 233 to be commercial solicitation! flag it.

Jan. 4, 2013, 6:34pm

i just did. i think.

Jan. 5, 2013, 12:39pm

Completed at 11:59 pm last night! Good read. Glad I'm done.
I learned a lot, actually.

Bearbeitet: Jan. 5, 2013, 1:01pm

Jan. 5, 2013, 1:10pm

yes! nice to see it finished. Congrats.

Jan. 5, 2013, 1:41pm

Yay! Congratulations! YEs, I learned a lot as well and thought it very worth while.

Jan. 5, 2013, 1:43pm

Congratulations, Ellen. I still intend to finish but I've put it aside for now. I'm hoping the PBS series on the abolitionists that starts on Jan 8th will reinspire me.

Jan. 5, 2013, 1:46pm

I have to remember to watch that. I feel better prepared for it after TOR.

Jan. 5, 2013, 10:33pm

What series on PBS? Can you give me a little more information? It sunds like something I would like to watch.

Jan. 5, 2013, 10:40pm

Benita, I posted about it upthread (msg 216) but here's the info from a PBS email I got about their winter schedule:
Tuesdays, January 8-22, 2013, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
Vividly bringing to life the epic struggles of the men and women who fought to end slavery, THE ABOLITIONISTS tells the intertwined stories of Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Angelina Grimké, Harriet Beecher Stowe and John Brown. Fighting body and soul, they led the most important civil rights crusade in American history. What began as a pacifist movement became a fiery and furious struggle that forever changed the nation. Black and white, Northerners and Southerners, poor and wealthy, these passionate anti-slavery activists tore the nation apart in order to form a more perfect union.

Jan. 6, 2013, 1:14am

That looks very interesting! I'll be setting the DVR. Thanks, y'all!

Jan. 6, 2013, 2:11pm

Sorry about requesting that info twice. I have bee out-of-contact so long that I just skipped posts and looked at the bottom one. I will be watching this series. Thanks for reporting it.

Jan. 6, 2013, 2:17pm

No problem, Benita. I like being useful!