When identifying a writer’s thesis, consider what lessons you ultimately took away from the text. For example, consider how Doris Kearns Goodwin describes Abraham Lincoln in Team of Rivals. Goodwin points out how Lincoln’s personal experiences with loss and hardship made him strong and gave him great resilience and fortitude. She ultimately argues that all of his personal experiences and resulting character traits allowed him to be a master communicator and a groundbreaking leader.
Once you have described Goodwin’s main point in your own words, look to the text for memorable quotes or information about what made Lincoln unique or significant. For example, consider how Goodwin writes about Lincoln’s relationships with his rivals and how he did not hold grudges against personal insults. This is one of the reasons that Lincoln was able to be so productive during his presidency. He was able to get even people who disagreed or competed with him to respect him. To provide specific evidence for a point like this, incorporate detailed stories from the text that prove this is true. For instance, Lincoln’s relationship with Edwin M. Stanton proves the previous point, as Lincoln made Stanton his Secretary of War even though Stanton mocked him and critiqued him.