Dear Great Book Guru, What a beautiful weekend we had here in Sea Cliff! There were parties and family gatherings galore. In fact, we had a family reunion, a turkey hunt, and a bocce tournament all on a Saturday afternoon. Despite the great weather and everything that was going on, I really wanted to see the new Spielberg LINCOLN movie so on Sunday we joined with friends for dinner and the movie. While I loved the movie, I was confused at times and would like to learn more. Do you have a book to recommend that will sort out all the historical figures we met? Loving Lincoln
Dear Loving Lincoln, We too saw LINCOLN this weekend and I was very happy to have a copy of Doris Kearns Goodwin's TEAM OF RIVALS on hand to clarify many points brought up in the movie. Our friends and fellow moviegoers Vic Ambrose and Linda Halliday had read the book too, so it made for great dinner discussion. The book's thesis is that Lincoln's genius lay in his ability to take his fiercest opponents and make them his greatest supporters. The book is really a series of multiple biographies: in addition to Lincoln, Attorney General Bates, Secretary of Treasury Chase, Secretary of State Seward, and Secretary of War Stanton. These men were dismissive of Lincoln and angry at losing to this underwhelming, unattractive opponent. By the end of his life, Lincoln had won them all over with his sensitivity, intelligence, and good will. The book is long (700 plus pages) but a compelling study of power and personality.
P.S. This is the third anniversary of the Great Book Guru Blog. Special thanks to Ricky Silver who three years ago early on a Thanksgiving morning helped launch this blog.