Okay. So Lincoln, Steven Spielberg’s bloated $50-million history lesson about Abraham Lincoln’s final days in office as he attempted, by hook or crook, to abolish slavery, is noble, civic-minded, exhaustingly researched, immaculately detailed, crowded with a parade of cameos by good actors who look like Smith Brothers cough drop models, and noteworthy for another critic-proof performance by Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role. It is all of those things. But Lincoln is also a colossal bore. It is so pedantic, slow-moving, sanitized and sentimental that I kept pinching myself to stay awake—which, like the film itself, didn’t always work.
The Civil War is in its fourth year. Lincoln has already signed his famous Emancipation Proclamation, a year before his re-election to a second term. Now he wants an anti-slavery amendment to guarantee that the slaves he freed will stay that way forever, protected by law. He needs votes from a hostile, divided Congress to pass it. That means getting the support of Democrats—rabid right-wing conservatives in those days—as well as liberal, left-wing Republicans. (How times have changed!) And that’s what Lincoln is about.
While scanning the Web for any New York City events commemorating Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on Saturday, I discovered that the 16th president, who was assassinated in April 1865, is, in fact, on Twitter.
Now, it turns out that the feed @1865lincoln is tied to the upcoming Robert Redford movie, The Conspirator, about said assassination. Read More
When Abraham Lincoln arrived in New York in February 1860, he must have felt a long way from Springfield. He was in town to speak at Cooper Union, in what amounted to his only major campaign trip in securing the Republican nomination for president. During his short stay, the gangly country lawyer was Read More
Lincoln and New York,” the ambitious and generally excellent exhibition now running at the New-York Historical Society through March 25, is one to make an American proud. New Yorkers, on the other hand, may walk away despairing on the side of the hometown team. Organized by Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer and a team of curators, Read More
ALBANY—David Paterson, flanked by health and education officials, spoke for over an hour at a town hall about H1N1 and the coming school year before James T. Madore (of Newsday) asked the question on everyone's mind: what happened to Paterson's beard?
"More cutbacks," Paterson quipped, having just parried my question about what a Read More
Angels and Ages: A Short Book about
Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life
By Adam Gopnik
Alfred A. Knopf, 211 pages, $24.95
Banquet at Delmonico’s:
Great Minds, the Gilded Age, and the
Triumph of Evolution in America
By Barry Werth
Random House, 362 pages, $27
“Fifty years ago no one would have chosen Darwin Read More
Measured by the impact of the language and imagery employed, Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address in 1865 – "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right…" – stands as the most powerful of the 55 delivered between the founding of Read More
Measured by the impact of the language and imagery employed, Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural speech in 1865—"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right …"—stands as the most powerful of the 55 delivered between the founding of the republic and the eve Read More
Are you ready for all Lincoln all the time? Do you worry that you’ll need some help in cutting through the bicentennial blather? If you’re looking for a quick refresher (as opposed, say, to the two-part, six volume mythologizing biography Carl Sandburg completed in 1939), try The Best American History Essays on Lincoln (Palgrave Macmillan, Read More
Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln
and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861
By Harold Holzer
Simon & Schuster, 640 pages, $30
Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer
By Fred Kaplan
Harper, 416 pages, $27.95
Tried By War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander In Chief
By James M. McPherson
Penguin, 384 pages, $35
Looking for Lincoln: The Making Read More