What started off in volume 1 as very good is now, by volume 3, established classic. Incredible. Not an easy adventure. Like John Carter, it's just one damn thing after another, but how very orginal, and yet, how very personal and real.Words don't do this third novel justice.
And Mark Boyett is a fantastic actor. His characters are played with sensitivity, humanity and the "best and brightest" intelligence. He and Larson bring to us the entire future of humanity, remarkable as it is, and yet so very much like today.
Listening carefully, it becomes clear that both Stephen Douglas and Lincoln avoided stating their positions clearly. And yet, by the attacks they make on one another we learn the true positions of the other. Lincoln, through both Douglas's attacks, and Lincoln's own defense, emerges as a scheming strategist who took on the infamy of slavery in well arranged political skirmishes, but in large public meetings found ways to avoid altogether any comittment to his views, both the political and financial implications of ending slavery and establishing equality. At one point Lincoln states "well, I'm not really sure how I feel about that. I haven't given it enough time, though I hope to do so." and this after his own party has established as its platform the eradication of slavery as an institution. Keep in mind that Lincoln was one of the founders of the Republican party!
As the debates proceed, it is clear that Douglas really means to uncover both Lincoln's true intent and the political manueverings he is using to hide his plan. Douglas also wants to leave it up to the voters, but does not shy away from his own prejudices about blacks, and his protectionism for slave owners and the business of slavery. Try as he does to be liberal minded, his own position emerges with crystal clarity. It is an amazing tour de force display of both positions.
Stephen Douglas. Both his rhetoric, and Richard Dreyfus' tour de force performance. You see in Dreyfus' Douglas the representation of big business interests and racism couched in the language of concern for the little guy and equality for all people. He does an amazing job demonstrating Douglas' sense of self-rightouseness and fairness, and his dogged determination to raise Lincoln's schemes, which border on unconstitutional, to the public eye.
Lincoln, Douglas proves again and again, doesn't want to leave the choice to the people on this issue. He means to irradicate Slavery. And Douglas, with perfect prescience, states clearly this will tear the country in two, which it did.
We are left with an incredible admiration for Lincoln, who really meant to give full and unequivocal morale and legal equality, including voting rights, to blacks, while never admitting it publicly.
In one telling passage, Douglas relates the incident of seeing a wealthy black man and his daughter riding in a beautiful carriage with a white driver. Douglas comments with fearful shock and sarcasm (and I paraphrase) : "this is the equality Lincoln wants! If you want this kind of equality, then Lincoln's your man!"
What is amazing is how current these very dynamics are today: Romney vs Obama. The identical story has been played out over a hundred years later, and the dynamics are still in force.
Straithern's Lincoln is beautifully balanced sincerity and brilliance, that actually are used by Lincoln to hide his true intentions from the full glare of public light. Lincoln knew this was an uphill battle, against major financial and racial interests. He was a gurreilla warfare warrior, winning specific legal battles step by step, never admitting his aim in public. Amazing.
Dreyfuss' performance is actually more accessible, a tour de force. He is channeling Stephen Douglas, with all the moral furor and high ground that Douglas gave himself. It is an amazing performance. You hear Barry Goldwater, Mitt Romney, George Bush Jr., Dick Cheney and Richard Nixon's sentiments echoed in his portrayal, and understand the deeply rooted elements of racism wrapped in the self-delusional arguments of fair play and free choice.
Awed by the depth of the portrayals and the depth of these dynamics in current events.
I have learned a little more about Lincoln, the guerrilla warrior, the disimulator, the politician.
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