Adam I. P. Smith: Historian

Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln is really a phenomenally good film. Usually historians go to gripe at historical epics like this. There is no shortage of dreadful films about US history that perpetuate horrible historical inaccuracies. This is not one of them. While I have plenty of quibbles with the detail, the big historical picture feels right. In particular Daniel Day Lewis has channeled Lincoln to an extraordinary degree. He captured the Lincoln of my imagination — the man who comes through to me in the years I’ve been reading his private letters and public speeches. An enigmatic character, with watchful eyes, a self-confidence but an unassuming manner, an unexpected sharp wit and a profound generosity of spirit. Hanging over the film– as over Lincoln at this time — was the death of his young son Willy two years earlier, the difficult relationship with his wife Mary, the affection he had for…

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