The movie project began with [Doris Kearns] Goodwin’s book, before she had written much of it. When she and [Steven] Spielberg met, in 1999, he asked her what she was working on, and she said Lincoln. “At that moment,” says Spielberg, “I was impulsively seized with the chutzpah to ask her to let me reserve the motion-picture rights.” To which effrontery she responded, in so many words: Cool. Her original plan had been to write about Mary and Abe Lincoln, as she had about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevel. “But I realized that he spent more time with members of his cabinet,” she says. - Continue reading at Smithsonian.com.