Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin

It's been some time since I read it, but I highly recommend "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin (website here) for anyone interested in politics, Abraham Lincoln, or... on a more timely (and specific)note, President-elect Barack Obama's approach to coalition-building.

The subtitle of the book is "The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" and after reading it, I can say that the description fits perfectly. Lincoln comes across as a man who may still have had faults, but above all had the strength to both recognize that he needed to both reach out to and bring together behind him people with opposing viewpoints. To this point, Goodwin writes in great detail how Lincoln devoted significant effort to recruiting some of his most bitter rivals... knowing that these people were crucial to his ability to govern and lead.

Fascinating stuff and... applying this to the present-day, Barack Obama has both spoken extremely highly of this approach and utilized it in many of his Cabinet choices... which included both former Democratic nominee rivals and Republicans from the Bush Administration. Like many things, it will now be interesting (but, also very important) to see how the Obama administration shakes out and what guiding principles it continues to use.