NPR Asks a Historian: Just How Accurate Is 'Lincoln'?





A great many families going to the movies over this Thanksgiving weekend will probably see Lincoln, Steven Spielberg's new film starring Daniel Day-Lewis and an impressive cast.

Based on a biography by Doris Kearns Goodwin, but scripted by playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner, it's been very well-reviewed, but here's a question: How true to history is it?

Ronald White, author of A. Lincoln: A Biography, tells NPR's Linda Wertheimer that if a ninth-grader were to write a school paper based on the film, she'd find that its "dramatic core" is basically on target.


Interview Highlights

On the film's overall historical correctness

"The dramatic core of this remarkable four months of trying to pass the 13th Amendment [which banned slavery] is true. Is every word true? No. Did Lincoln say, 'And to unborn generations ...'? No. But this is not a documentary. And so I think the delicate balance or blend between history and dramatic art comes off quite well."...

 

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