Team of Rivals

Oct 4, 2007 | | 1 comment

teamofrivals.gifI just got through listening to a recorded book, Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I started this tome early in August when I drove to St. Louis to visit Melody in Medical School at SLU and just finished it tonight. What a great story! The book chronicles the lives of Abraham Lincoln and the men who eventually became his presidential cabinet. The common characteristic of each of these men in his cabinet is that they were his rivals for the presidency in 1860!  They each brought a different perspective to Lincoln.  While their bickering and in fighting must have been a distraction, Lincoln’s steady temperament held them together.  I highly recommend this book.

I never liked the subject of History, when I was a young man, but it is becoming more interesting to me now. I think that change is the result of a combination of at least three elements:

  1. I am older and I understand better how I am affected by history; both my own history and the history of those who came before me. I cannot separate myself from it. The lives that we have led and the decisions that we (and so many others) have made have brought us to where we are today. This is where we are and we must create our future from here. We cannot pick a different starting place.
  2. I think a new breed of historians are using their creative talents to find more compelling ways to communicate history. For instance, Ken Burns’ documentary, The War that is playing on PBS right now has my attention completely. The way he tells the stories makes me feel like a part of it myself.
  3. I am learning that the talents and leanings that God placed in me are largely centered around connecting with people, hearing their stories, encouraging them. When I read the biography of Benjamin Franklin a couple of years ago, I realized that the history around the man was more enjoyable to me.  As I asked myself why that might be, I realized that I was “seeing history through the life of the man” rather than “history by the events”. The history courses that I remember were centered on historical events first and people second; as if the people who were part of the events were less important than the events themselves. For me, connecting with historically significant people makes the history come alive as a secondary result of knowing the person.

My next recorded book is The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. I will let you know what I learn about me from that book too. 🙂

Posted in: books

One Response

  1. Jim,
    I, too, have become more interested in history as I have gotten older. Somehow knowing what and who has shaped my life helps me see what legacy I’d like to leave.
    I like the PBS program on THE WAR also.
    Keep up the quest…
    Uncle/Brother (UB)

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