Shakespeare Conquers America! Starring Ulysses S. Grant as Desdemona – The New York Times

America is massive. Shakespeare is massive. When two such cultural hyper-objects meet, they’re bound to create a black hole strong enough to suck in and warp just about anything around them. James Shapiro analyzes the effects of their collision in his terrific new book, “Shakespeare in a Divided America: What His Plays Tell Us About Our Past and Future.” If Jill Lepore and the late Tony Judt had collaborated, this taut, swift and insightful tract might have been the offspring. Yet Shapiro’s subtitle is misleading: His subject is us, the U.S., not Shakespeare plays. If you’re worried about the current state of the Republic, this is a book that will stoke your fears — while educating you on why you might justifiably be having them.

Shapiro is already a master of creating Shakespeare treats for the literate common reader. His “1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare” and “Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?” are as entertaining as any nonfiction of recent years. Now he’s outdone himself
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