Lincoln, whom [Gore Vidal] holds as the greatest of the presidents, is gone. And so is his grandfather, whom Vidal obviously revered and who knew Lincoln's oldest son. "It's a ghost town to me now," said Vidal. "It's like coming home to a ghost town."
Vidal said he found the key to unlocking Lincoln's character in a speech he gave in Springfield, Ill., at the Young Men's Lyceum. "Lincoln warns us against him," said Vidal. It was a speech in which Lincoln referred to Alexander the Great, Caesar and Napoleon. He said it seemed the country's founders had done all the great work and those who followed could only hope to be office-holders. But that was not enough to satisfy "the family of the lion or the tribe of the eagle." The great man "thirsts and burns for distinction; and, if possible, he will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves, or enslaving free men."
PHOTO CAPTION: Sam Waterson as [Abraham Lincoln] in "Gore Vidal's Lincoln" SUnday and Monday on NBC. CAPTION: Sam Waterson and [Mary Tyler Moore] as the Lincolns. CAPTION: Gore Vidal, on whose book NBC's two-night miniseries is based. CAPTION: Sam Waterson and Mary Tylr Moore as [Abe Lincoln] and [Mary Todd Lincoln] with union troops in the trenches of a Civil War battle.
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