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Looking for Lincoln

10 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Apr 07, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

The series will dissect the myths that have grown up around Abraham Lincoln, and in doing so, will address outstanding questions surrounding him - questions about race, equality, religion, depression, and sexuality - by carefully interpreting the evidence provided by people who actually knew him.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: April 7, 2009
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001NY4X1O
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,001 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Howard S. Gay Jr. on April 25, 2009
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I love this uplifting sketch, an enjoyable armchair tour of all things Lincoln, the legends, artifacts and input from scholars and peers such as William Herndon, Frederick Douglas, and Doris Kearns Goodwin, titled Looking for Lincoln, a most enigmatic President! So much so that at least 14,000 books were written about him. A normal man but highly intelligent. Rugged looking, somber and tall, thin but willing to wear suits and have portraits made. Just to know of the profound tragedies he suffered, endears him to me. One can almost feel his pain which is apparent in his face. It reveals compassion, a kind and gentle soul, dignity, selflessness, humbleness and honesty with the patience of Job. It is thought that the very unfortunate experiences in his earlier life prepared him for the great perseverance needed to accomplish his goals as President. Here is a fitting 200th Birthday Tribute.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Matt Inglima on April 13, 2009
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The PBS documentary "Looking for Lincoln" which aired on the eve of Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday is a thoughtful look into the legend of our 16th president. As another reviewer stated this documentary is not a typical biography about Lincoln's life and career, rather it is an examination of how his life and career has been shaped into the secular American icon in the years after his assassination in 1865. Hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr. we are shown interviews with Lincoln scholars, civil rights activists, politicians and every day Americans who give us their own personal interpretations of a man deeply shrouded in myth.

While the documentary is somewhat delicate in its interpretation of Lincoln it does not shy away from describing him as a man firmly rooted in the prejudices of his era. His early beliefs about the inferiority of African Americans in no way gels with the Great Emancipator image that grew up around him. But a man renowned for his great resolve in restoring the Union proved he could adapt his views. It is in his authorship of the Emancipation Proclamation (which has been argued was more political than practical) to his support of the 13th Amendment where the light of greatness begins to shine in him. Frederick Douglass an early critic of Lincoln who once described him as "the white man's president," would later write in his memoirs that, "Mr. Lincoln was not only a great president, but a great man - too great to be small in anything."

The best thing I can say about "Looking for Lincoln" is that it stimulates discussion about Lincoln's legacy. One of the reasons I believe Lincoln is so popular in our culture is that he came from humble origins and rose up through hard work and ambition to attain the pinnacle of power.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By E. Paul Austin on February 2, 2013
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After seeing some of this on PBS, I bought a used DVD to see it again. I was surprised at the quality of the widescreen picture - such a clear picture that filled my 46-inch LCD using my Blu-ray player; on standard DVD player picture was smaller size and not as clear but OK. No subtitles or extras, however but does have chapter search and pretty good audio.

From the cover: "As host Henry Louis Gates, Jr (aka Skip) travels around the county from Gettysurg PA, to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., he encounters a menagerie of characters who live with Lincoln every day, from re-enactors to relic hunters, as well as those for whom the study of Lincoln is a passion. Among them: Pulitzer Prize winners Doris Kearns Goodwin and Tony Kushner [the new LINCOLN movie is partly based on her 2005 book and Tony worked on it's script]; also Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer, and interesting comments by Presidents G. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, among others.

The two-hour program shows how the Lincoln legend grew out of controversy, hurt feelings, greed, love, anger, politics, power struggles and disagreement over how our 16th president should be remembered." For example, the visit to N. Carolina's annual Sons of Confederate Vets convention where one guy said Lincoln was a war criminal and should have gone on trial and hung, and another guy was asked if Lincoln did anything positive, the reply was: hmm - that's a tough one...

Lincoln was a self-taught, complicated man and a great politician. He never liked slavery but his views on it did evolve. The summer of 1862, when the war wasn't going well for the Union, Lincoln decided to cripple the south's economy by ending slavery.
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First, when I place "myth" in my review title, it is not meant as denigrating. It is simply a fact that Lincoln has been crafted into an image that often differs from the facts. For instance, while he was passionately opposed all his adult life to slavery, his views on abolition were more complex. It was only well into his presidency that, fueled by conversations with a Presbyterian minister, Lincoln came to feel that slavery had to end. On the other hand, you get people willing to go to the extreme of tearing down much of what we think we know about Lincoln, such as the claim (not well substantiated) that he had a long-term homosexual relationship. There are a number of things in the show that I personally disagree with. For instance, I find claims of Lincoln as being perhaps bipolar to be poorly founded. Joshua Wolf Shenks (who is interviewed on the show) and others place great stress on his depression, but this is simply not supported by the facts of his life. There is a massive difference between being depressed with definite causes and depression that had no cause. The times in which Lincoln was depressed were virtually always in response to concrete tragedy, such as the death of Ann Rutledge or the death of his son Willie. But there is little support for the claim that Lincoln suffered from depression during the normal course of his life. In fact, the periods of depression of which we are aware are generally quite understandable. There would have been something odd about Lincoln if he had not been depressed.

Skip Gates certainly wants to present as many viewpoints as possible. If you have read much about Lincoln there won't be much new here.
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