There’s an obsessive streak in us Kjergaards. Sadly, this streak does not usually allow us to accomplish reasonable goals. Reading the entire Lord of the Rings in a week. Done. Watching a BBC miniseries in a day. Done. Studying hard for a test or developing a skill that might actually pay off in life . . . Well, let’s just say I majored in English so I could read stories and call it school, and by the time that I realized French was a whole lot of work I was too far along to stop.
The latest thing to grip me is Lincoln. I’ve been reading, and sharing facts from, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals for the last week. Over Thanksgiving everything related to Lincoln and the Civil War. Over Christmas break I kept my sisters up with exciting little tidbits. At one point I woke them up to tell them that both Lincoln and I thought that Claudius’s prayer/soliloquy “O my offence is rank” (3.3) of Hamlet was better than the “To be or not to be” speech. I’m not sure what significance this has, but I know it means something! They were decidedly less excited about this discovery than I.
Somehow I missed the Civil War. I know I read about it, and I could tell you very basic facts about it, but I hadn’t really learned it. I have more sympathy with my students now when they tell me they don’t remember something they studied in first or second grade. Reading this book has been a revelation. I haven’t been surprised by history for a long time. I have no memory of these battles or how they turn out. I think I labored under the misapprehension that the North was more or less ahead the whole time, and that the South’s defeat was inevitable. NO! This is not at all true.
This was all precipitated by the movie Lincoln. I started tearing up a few minutes in and it was all downhill/uphill from there. By the end I was ugly crying. As the credits rolled, my friend and I looked around and realized we were by far the youngest people at the movie, and once again I found myself liking all the same things as people more than twice my age.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet you must. It has something for everyone. If you haven’t read the book yet, and you like heart-warming stories about enemies that become frenemies that become besties it’s likewise a must read. Lincoln’s ability to convert enemies into loyal friends (even though they continued to hold different opinions and disagree with him) is uncanny.
I should also mention that I have an inherited love of Daniel Day-Lewis (thanks, Mom), so it was only natural to fall a little bit in love with Lincoln.