Lincoln movie and Team of Rivals Book Review

2012’s Lincoln  film was based on “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Team of Rivals, winner of the American History Book Prize was adapted into film by Steven Spielberg. This post is a review of both items.

Starting with Spielberg’s Lincoln, this is a wonderful movie. Truly a must for any Lincoln or Spielberg fan. The costume/makeup, the sets, overall characterization of Abraham Lincoln, Mary Lincoln, Ulysses Grant, Mr. Bilbo and Thaddeus Stevens were perfect. Daniel Day Lewis, who appears in a movie every 5-8 years and wins an Oscar for it, was phenomenal in his portrayal of President Lincoln. Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader and Jared Harris were also great in their roles.



Lincoln is a modern day classic in my opinion. Everything in this movie just fits. In reading the book, I’ve discovered how little of the book was actually used in the movie. Timeline of the movie starts in January 1865 and ends at Lincoln’s death months later in April. The whole movie is centered on Lincoln’s pressing to introduce the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery before the war ends.

Naturally, with the book well over 900 pages, it would be impossible to put a larger portion of the book into a theatrical flim release.  However, I think the porition that Speilberg did focus on was what the best to show; conflict in Congress, disagreement within Lincoln’s cabinet, and the personal impact the war has had on Abraham, Mary, among others in dealing with the loss of so many loved ones.

gold star


Team of Rivals as a book is very good, but also quite lengthy. My rating would be 5 stars and this review come to a abrupt end if it wasn’t for the first 200-300 pages of the book dragging.These first few hundred pages of the book goes into the personal background of the four major presidential candidates of the 1860 Republican Party nomination. (Salmon Chase, William Seward, Edward Bates and Abraham Lincoln). It’s a lot to keep track of and although I can appreciate the thoroughness, I didn’t care about the other candidates in-depth backgrounds as much as I cared about Lincoln’s.

However, beginning of the 1860 Republican National Convention till the end of the book is beautifully written.  Lincoln was a mastermind of reading people and getting them to do what he wanted them to do, not because he told them too, but because they wanted to ultimately. He looked beyond personality disagreements to install the right people in place for the good of the country, not the good of Abraham Lincoln only.

After finishing the book, I find that the movie is almost completely different from the book in the fact the book covers little of passing the 13th Amendment, the political process behind it and how Lincoln maneuvered the “levers and pulleys” of Congress to secure the freedom of African Americans when the Civil War ended.

I didn’t think it was possible to admire Abraham Lincoln anymore than I already did but this book showed me a lot and although it is a commitment to reading (because of length), I believe it very much worthwhile if you have interest in Lincoln or examples of great leadership in practice.

4 stars








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