I recently read Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin (2005).
While very familiar with the history and biography of Lincoln, this book provided for me a much deeper understanding of his mindset. Most of us have heard the tales of Lincoln's poverty-to-presidency pathway, but DKG gave me a glimpse of the man's heart and mind that no previous work I've encountered has.
In particular, DKG details how Lincoln recruited, invited, and embraced a cabinet that was made up of a broad diversity of thinkers and skill sets. Even more remarkable is the fact that several of those Lincoln invited to serve in his cabinet were previous political rivals, quite bitter ones at that. Lincoln masterfully navigated their differences, winning their loyalty and affection.
I am completely awed by Lincoln's capacity for forgiveness, his unwavering ability to show compassion, and his disciplined refusal to engage in vindictiveness or recrimination. What remarkable attributes for a leader!
Perhaps General William Tecumseh Sherman summed it best: “Of all the men I ever
met, he seemed to possess more of the elements of greatness, combined with
goodness, than any other.” (p. 713)
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