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History Tech Podcast: Episode Two – Lincoln the movie and historical thinking

I got the chance to watch the Lincoln movie a week or so ago. Loved it. Who would have thought? A movie about constitutional law? Interesting?

But great casting, great costuming, and great performances, especially by Daniel Day Lewis, create a great movie. My wife was concerned about the length and walked out afterwards praising the movie. Even my daughter, who is not the history geek that her dad is, said:

The movie helped me see that Lincoln is an actual person, not just some historical figure in some textbook. He played with his kids while trying to run the country. I thought that was cool.

And I learned more about the process of how laws are passed and so I plan to go to a great college and become a lawyer, supporting my father in his quest to play every golf course in the state of Hawaii.

Okay. I added that last bit. But she really did enjoy how a very important piece of American history was told in an engaging and interesting way.

But how to use the movie in the classroom?

Movie reviews:

  • James Grossman, Executive Director of the American Historical Association, says Lincoln does “what a film like this should do: stimulate discussion about history.”
  • Kate Masur, associate professor of history at Northwestern University, criticizes the movie as “more to entertain and inspire than to educate.”
  • David Thomson, film historian and critic, considers the film “necessary” and its release right after the 2012 presidential election significant.
  • Allen Guelzo, director of the Civil War studies department at Gettysburg College, questions whether highlighting Lincoln’s conflict between ending the war quickly and holding out until passage of the Thirteenth Amendment made the movie too complicated.
3 Comments Post a comment
  1. When I saw the movie I was intrigued by the reasons offered for seeking passage of the 13th Amendment prior to the end of the Civil War, and found myself wanting to learn more about it.

    It might be interesting to have students read the two opinion pieces I came across today :

    and , contrasting those views with Delores K Goodwin’s treatment of the topic in “Team of Rivals”.

    December 14, 2012
    • glennw #


      I like your idea of contrasting reviews of the film with impressions and reviews of Goodwin’s work – specifically that small piece of the book dealing with the 13th Amendment.

      Thanks for sharing the links!


      December 14, 2012
  2. I love “Lincoln’s Pockets” and use it regularly! The movie is on my To Do list for this Break!

    December 16, 2012

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