Sean Wilentz

Understanding the real motivations of Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, and Julian Assange.

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Does the Gettysburg Address Distract Us from the Real Lincoln?

A prominent historian on the politician behind the oratory

Tuesday marks the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. In this 2009 essay, historian Sean Wilentz argues that we have let Lincoln's feats of oratory—like the Gettysburg Address—overshadow his political achievements.

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Spielberg's film ought to put an end to the Lost Cause mythology.

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Soon after I first listened to Bob Dylan’s intense new album, Tempest, a friend who’d also heard it wanted to know what a historian made of its line, early on, about the British burning down the White House. I replied that I had no idea. And many listenings later, I still don’t.

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Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of PowerBy Robert A. Caro (Knopf, 712 pp., $35) I. MANY LIBERAL Democrats have yet to come to terms with Lyndon Johnson.

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The Mirage

I. The American dream of politics without conflict, and of politics without political parties, has a history as old as American politics. Anyone carried along on the political currents since 2008, however, might be forgiven for thinking that the dream is something new—and that a transformative era was finally at hand, in which the old politics of intense partisan conflict, based on misunderstanding, miscommunication, and misanthropy, could be curbed if not ended. After the presidency of George W.

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October 3rd marks the twentieth anniversary of Bill Clinton’s announcement of his candidacy for the presidency. The distance of time permits some perspective on what Clinton was attempting to do when he set out on his quest. Since the end of World War II, every Democrat who has sought the presidency has attempted to update the legacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

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Above and Beyond

Sean Wilentz wonders if bin Laden’s death will bring a close to the era of paranoid politics in America.

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More than candidates are defeated in elections. So are ideas. The Democrats’ heavy losses in the midterm elections may now force a reassessment and overhaul of the Barack Obama political experiment. Whether the president has the dexterity and fortitude to navigate through the harsher Washington political environment of the next two years will determine his survival. Clearly, the hopes and dreams that propelled Obama to the White House are in disarray.

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Writing back and forth with a fellow Yankee fan just after the news broke about George Steinbrenner’s death, I was surprised how touched we were. Like Yankee fans generally, we had lambasted Steinbrenner for decades. He was a meddlesome pain in the ass. He brought an obsessively willful football coach’s mentality to a subtle sport played over a very long season. And his strange emotional twists and turns with other troubled men, above all his many-time manager, Billy Martin, played havoc with everyone’s psyches.

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