book beginnings on Friday: Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Thanks to Rose City Reader for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.


After recently seeing the movie Lincoln, I have been ready to finally listen to this book, upon which the movie was based. It begins:

On May 18, 1860, the day when the Republican Party would nominate its candidate for president, Abraham Lincoln was up early. As he climbed the stairs to his plainly furnished law office on the west side of the public square in Springfield, Illinois, breakfast was being served at the 130-room Chenery House on Fourth Street.

Simple enough, yes, but I think this is an example of slipping details and impressions upon the reader in what reads like a straightforward few sentences. Picture a man who’s up early on this day: is he nervous? That would be understandable. His office is plainly furnished, and they’re serving breakfast elsewhere. He’s a man of the people rather than an aristocrat, perhaps.

I’m excited about this read. I will say that Goodwin uses rather many superlatives, so far, and there’s a danger, when someone is portrayed as being masterful, expert, the most and the best, of wearing me out a little. But I’ll wait and see. It’s easy to get excited about Abraham Lincoln, of course.

That’s my new read – and what are you reading this weekend?

7 Responses

  1. This is a good one. She’s a great historian and is well-respected in her field. I read this years ago so my memory isn’t as good, but I remember liking it.

  2. A good beginning that draws me in. It makes me wonder if he was up early because he was eager to start the day or if he was nervous. Or maybe that was just his habit! I like the details about his office too.
    My Book Beginning/Friday 56 post features Perigee Moon.

  3. I enjoy this author, and now I want to read this one. I definitely want to see the movie….


  4. Interesting comment about how small things can be distracting, like the most, the best.

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