Abraham Lincoln (1809 1865) is one of the most famous Americans in history and one of the country's most revered presidents. Schoolchildren can recite the life story of Lincoln, the Westerner who educated himself and became a self made man, rising from lawyer to leader of the new Republican Party before becoming the 16th President of the United States. Lincoln successfully navigated the Union through the Civil War but didn t live to witness his crowning achievement, becoming the first president assassinated when he was shot at Ford's Theater by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865. In the generation after the Civil War, Lincoln became an American deity and one of the most written about men in history. With such a sterling reputation, even historians hesitate to write a critical word; in Team of Rivals Doris Kearns Goodwin casts Lincoln as an almost superhuman puppet master in control of his Cabinet's political machinations and the war's direction, juggling the balancing act flawlessly. As a result, Lincoln the man is far less known than Lincoln the myth. From the intro:"To make claim of superhuman goodness or wisdom or ability for Abraham Lincoln is to belittle him to detract from the dignity of his life and the inspiration of his example. The reason his name is on every lip, and that the sound of it warms every heart, is that he was so human, yet lived on a higher plane than his fellows. That he freed an enslaved race and brought a long and bitter war to an end is impressive, but not vital to his greatness. The fact that counts, is that he passed through every stage of his marvelous career, from laboring man to ruler with more than imperial power, serenely constant to one inflexible standard of right never arrogant and never abashed, just in act, and in sympathy a brother to mankind.Some men, born with the gift of wit, lack judgment, or persistent energy. Others, dowered with unusual sagacity, are hampered by a cold earnestness which repels confidence. Still others, afflicted with blind unreasoning energy, blunder perpetually into destructive acts of courage and daring. Lincoln had these qualities in happy combination wit to attract and hold men, logical sense and clear vision to plan methodical action; and, best of all, that high courage which, when the golden moment came, inspired him to bold and fearless action, regardless of what others thought and careless of consequences to himself."