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Between Gore Vidal, who wrote Lincoln: A Novel, a fictional account of Honest Abe in which homosexuality was not absolutely out of the question although still in the closet, and Andrew Solomon, who wrote a combination memoir-atlas about depression, The Noonday Demon, and who finds plenty of it in the Great Emancipator, Lincoln gets a thorough laundering, rinsing, and wringing in these three hours—and that doesn’t even include the usual dutiful scholars Ted Widmer and Jay Winik and such biographers as Michael Burlingame, Jan Morris, and Joshua Wolf Shenk, who chronicle the boy, the lawyer, the president, his melancholy, and his wife. Oscar-winning producer Vikram Jayanti does, however, leave out most of the famous jokes, emphasizing instead the martyrdom and shadows. Lincoln may have been more complicated than his country deserves.

The History Channel
Monday, January 16, 8 p.m.


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