Film Roundtable: Lincoln

Document Type


Publication Date


Department 1

Civil War Era Studies

Department 2



Abraham Lincoln has been known through many titles: "The Great Emancipator," "President," "Railsplitter," and "Frontier Lawyer." Now, thanks to Steven Spielberg and his latest film Lincoln, we can call Mr. Lincoln "Blockbuster" and "Oscar-worthy." As of March 21, 2013, the film Lincoln has grossed $181.5 million in the United States and garnered twelve Academy Award nominations with victories in Best Achievement in Production Design and Best Actor (for Daniel Day-Lewis). Lincoln received the American Film Institute Best Picture, and Day-Lewis received numerous honors, including the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Best Actor, and several film critic organization accolades. Tommy Lee Jones also won the SAG award in the supporting actor category. The film also earned a 90 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with 87 percent of audience members enjoying the film. In honor of Lincoln, Civil War History has assembled a stellar cast of Oscar-worthy historians to discuss the film, Lincoln's legacy, and how we can utilize movies to convey the historical experience. Our book-review editor, Brian Craig Miller (BCM), acted as roundtable facilitator.

  • Catherine Clinton (CC) is a Janie-come-lately to the field—as only four of her more than twenty-five books focus on the Civil War. Although she studied at Princeton with James McPherson, in her early career she concentrated on topics in southern history, women's history, and African American history. But by the time she accepted a chair in U.S. history at Queen's University Belfast, she was beguiled by Civil War studies—and eventually fell under Lincoln's spell. Her most recent biography, Mrs. Lincoln: A Life, was published in 2009. She also serves on the Civil War History Advisor Board of Editors.

  • Allen C. Guelzo (AG) is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era at Gettysburg College and the author of Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President(2000), Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America (2004), Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America (2008),Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction (2009), Abraham Lincoln as a Man of Ideas (2009), and Lincoln Speeches (2012).

  • Kevin Levin (KL) teaches American history at Gann Academy in Waltham, Massachusetts. He is the author of Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder (2012) and is always online at Civil War Memory (http://cwmemory.com).

  • John R. Neff (JN) is associate professor and director of the Center for the Study of Civil War Research at the University of Mississippi. He is the author ofHonoring the Civil War Dead (2005).

  • Megan Kate Nelson (MKN) is a lecturer in history and literature at Harvard University and the author of Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War (2012). She is also a member of Civil War History's Advisory Board of Editors.

  • Matthew Pinsker (MP), associate professor, holds the Pohanka Chair for Civil War History at Dickinson College. He is the author of Lincoln's Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers' Home (2003).



Original version is available from the publisher at: http://www.kentstateuniversitypress.com/2013/september-2013-volume-59-no-3/

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