Team of Rivals

Photo: Philip Friedman/Studio D.

2 of 4
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
944 pages; Simon & Schuster
"I had never run a theater before I took over the Old Vic," says Spacey, who moved to the UK in 2003 to head the renowned theater company. "So I started reading books on how to manage businesses. It seemed to me that running a government must be similar. And when I heard that Team of Rivals was less a biography of President Lincoln than an examination of his extraordinary decision to create a cabinet surrounded by people who opposed him, it struck me that I should read this book," says Spacey, who also coruns the Los Angeles-based Trigger Street Productions, which coproduced the 2010 Hollywood hit The Social Network. "It teaches you that instead of shutting out people who are battling you, you might actually get more out of them by simply inviting them in."
— As told to Naomi Barr