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Shakespeare in a Divided America
Shakespeare in a Divided America: What His Plays Tell Us About Our Past and Future | James Shapiro
From leading scholar James Shapiro, a timely exploration of what Shakespeares plays reveal about our divided land, from Revolutionary times to the present day Read at school by almost every student, staged in theaters across the land, and long highly valued by both conservatives and liberals alike, Shakespeares plays are rare common ground in the United States. For well over two centuries now, Americans of all stripespresidents and activists, writers and soldiershave turned to Shakespeares works to address the nations political fault lines, such as manifest destiny, race, gender, immigration, and free speech. In a narrative arching across the centuries, James Shapiro traces the unparalleled role of Shakespeare's 400-year-old tragedies and comedies in making sense of so many of these issues on which American identity has turned. Reflecting on how Shakespeare has been invokedand at times weaponizedat pivotal moments in our past, Shapiro takes us from President John Quincy Adamss disgust with Desdemonas interracial marriage to Othello, to Abraham Lincolns and his assassin John Wilkes Booths competing obsessions with the plays, up through the fraught debates over marriage and same-sex love at the heart of the celebrated adaptations Kiss Me Kate and Shakespeare in Love. His narrative culminates in the 2017 controversy over the staging of Julius Caesar in Central Park, in which a Trump-like leader is assassinated. Extraordinarily researched, Shakespeare in a Divided America shows that no writer has been more closely embraced by Americans, or has shed more light on the hot-button issues in our history. Indeed, it is by better understanding Shakespeare's role in American life, Shapiro argues, that we might begin to mend our bitterly divided land.
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DisneyFan
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Fascinating book discussing how Shakespeare plays were enacted and interpreted differently over the years based upon events and sentiments of those times. #bookly #nonfiction #Shakespeare

tpixie Interesting 3mo
tpixie @TheBookHippie & @batsy you might enjoy this book- I believe you have been reading Shakespeare 🎭 3mo
TheBookHippie It‘s on my TBR!!! ♥️♥️♥️ @tpixie (edited) 3mo
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DisneyFan @TheBookHippie Can‘t wait to hear what you think! If your TBR is as long as mine, I‘ll understand if there is a long wait, lol 3mo
DisneyFan @tpixie Yup, I‘m always fascinated to read about how the same things were perceived differently during different times. And also fascinated by how despite the differences in time/place/perception- history repeats itself (edited) 3mo
TheBookHippie @DisneyFan TRUE STORY!! OY. 3mo
tpixie @DisneyFan yes! A big cycle! 3mo
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LeftyDv
Mehso-so

Some chapters are truly fascinating… others seem like a stretch. But all tell the tale of how America digests her Shakespeare. I suppose Shapiro‘s goal is to show how Americans continue to interpret Shakespeare‘s works through the current events of the time. I didn‘t need the book to tell me that, but the journey through history was worthwhile nonetheless.

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Litsi
Panpan

You can learn everything you need to know about this book by reading the title. And, no, that is not a compliment. The Shakespeare connections were weak. I now have new awareness of tantalizing events - like a deadly riot in NY between fans of various Shakespeare thespians - but no understanding of its significance. So I am not sure there‘s much of a thesis here other than the annoying idea that all the world‘s a Shakespeare play. Total pan.

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Bookwormjillk
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Pickpick

This book explored Shakespeare as a canary in a coal mine for American politics. I loved it as an audiobook, and plan on buying a paper copy so I can underline.

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lowellette
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Pickpick

A surprisingly exciting history of Shakespeare performances at major turning points in American politics/culture. I completely binged the audiobook.

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MargaretPinardAuthor
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The cat and the current read.
Look at that eye.
I should rename him Smaug.

#catsandbooks

Texreader 🤣🤣❤️🐈 2y
41 likes1 comment
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MargaretPinardAuthor
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Just starting this book but buoyed by a return to reality in our nation...now for unity and progress...looking to hope with the new dawn.
❤️

Ruthiella Beautiful picture! 😀 2y
Bookwormjillk This sounds fascinating 2y
MargaretPinardAuthor It‘s really for me thinking already @Bookwormjillk and I‘m only in the introduction! 😬 2y
MargaretPinardAuthor Thank you @Ruthiella ! 🙌🏽 2y
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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

There's a lot to like in this collection of essays for this English/History teacher and nerd. What I think Shapiro has done most successfully, is articulate through a range of contexts and examples he demonstrates how the works of Shakespeare remain relevant cultural touchstones which continue to speak to our lived experiences in this world. I felt the strongest essays were those that examined Julius Caesar in the context of Trump's America.

CarolynM Great review. 2y
ClairesReads @CarolynM cheers 🥂 2y
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Redwritinghood
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Pickpick

3.5 ⭐️ This was an interesting look at how Shakespeare‘s plays have often reflected current cultural attitudes in America over the years. Some of the early stuff in the book on how prior presidents attributed importance to the plays and the parts on early theater in NYC were fascinating. Overall a little light on both history and analysis, but a fun read.

Trashcanman ,👋👋 2y
Leftcoastzen I‘ve been debating reading this. 2y
Redwritinghood @Trashcanman 👋🏻👋🏻 How are you doing? 2y
Redwritinghood @Leftcoastzen It‘s actually a pretty quick read, so if you like Shakespeare it may be worth it. 2y
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Dogearedcopy
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Pickpick

A few yrs ago, Shakespeare in the Park mounted a production of Julius Caesar, with Trumpian aesthetics. Fox Republicans lost their minds... Shapiro witnessed the events as they unfolded and was inspired to write this NF book about how Shakespeare has reflected US divisions since the early 19th century. Really interesting and thought provoking. Ordered a print copy even though it won‘t arrive until Feb (audiobook poor in narration & production)

Dogearedcopy Image: Gregg Henry and cast members in “Julius Caesar” (Shakespeare in the Park); Photo by Joan Marcus; Playbill website 2y
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Dogearedcopy
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This appeared on the NYT list of Best 10 Books of 2020 last week. I wanted to read it right away, but wanted a print copy. I was unable to find one so went w/the audiobook edition. I am loving the content: interesting takes in the intersection of Shakespearean & American culture, but I am regretting not waiting for a back order of the book. The audio is poorly narrated & edited and; would‘ve benefited from including a PDF of the images mentioned

TiminCalifornia Thanks for an informative review. 2y
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PaulAndrus
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Pickpick

An interesting take on Shakespeare's influence in America.

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Emilymdxn
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Mehso-so

I liked some chapters very much and some very little. The modern chapters eg on Shakespeare in Love, Harvey Weinstein and 90s social attitudes was SO original. Other chapters felt like grab bags of history facts without much message - I‘m struggling to see why the early C19 trend for women to play Romeo is linked to manifest destiny expanding slavery in the period. I‘m not saying there‘s no link, but he didn‘t explain it much at all.

jenniferw88 The Hays Festival talk on this wasn't great either. 2y
Emilymdxn @jenniferw88 that‘s really interesting, what did you think of it? 2y
jenniferw88 @Emilymdxn as far as I can remember, I decided that the book would be a #borrownotbuy (stealing @Cinfhen 's hashtag here lol!) for me. I wasn't that impressed with the talk! 2y
Emilymdxn @jenniferw88 I think I felt the same! I was very aware I‘d spent (d0 on it and I spent the whole read thinking ‘I‘ll never get this (d0 back‘. If you do borrow it I‘d recommend reading the end chapters first, I thought the book got better as it went on :) 2y
69 likes4 comments
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Eyejaybee
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Pickpick

A marvellous analysis of responses to Shakespeare‘s works in America over the last four hundred years. Shapiro is one of the leading Shakespearean scholars, and this book demonstrates why. See my Goodreads review at: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3373857968. #jamesshapiro #williamshakespeare #shakespeareinadividedamerica #shakespeare #history #literature #politics #literaryhistory #america #juliuscaesar #abrahamlincoln

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Eyejaybee
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James Shapiro consolidates his position as one of the finest Shakespearean academics of his generation with this history of the Bard‘s political impact in the USA. Fascinating, yet also alarming. #jamesshapiro #shakespeareinadividedamerica #williamshakespeare #literarycriticism #shakespeare #history #literaryhistory #literature #criticism #america #americanhistory #abrahamlincoln #johnwilkesbooth

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ReadUntilYourEyesAreRed
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Pickpick

I can‘t wait to read this after listening to the Q&A from Hay Literature Festival, Shapiro is so passionate but straightforward in his discussion of Shakespeare it‘s really refreshing.

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Mitch
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Listening to James Shapiro at the Hay Festival - love this festival format so much. Long may it exist in some digital format. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

BookishMe I need to follow the schedule better to watch the events... Meanwhile following the festival on Twitter and saw his quote ;)) - "We all share Shakespeare but American Shakespeare is not British Shakespeare" - James Shapiro | #ImagineTheWorld 2y
Mitch @BookishMe yeah - it‘s an interesting idea he explores how different the plays and influence of the plays are in both countries. 2y
HannaPolkadots I was there too! Very interesting, I enjoyed it a lot ❤ And I added the book to my TBR instantly 🤣 2y
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squirrelbrain I‘m going to watch this on catchup - sounds like it was great. @ReadUntilYourEyesAreRed - definitely don‘t miss this one! 2y
ReadUntilYourEyesAreRed @squirrelbrain yeah I‘m going to watch in the morning! 2y
catebutler I have this one queued up! I‘m loving the digital Hay Festival, especially since I wasn‘t able to make the real event this year!! 2y
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Twocougs
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Pickpick

My main man, Bill is still at it, stirring up controversy.the book covers plays stage from 1833 up to the Delacort‘s 2017 version of Julius Caesar. Fascinating to see how Shakespeare‘s words still are powerful and being about passion.

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Mitch
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Short article and interview with James Shapiro in the BBC History magazine - talking about how Shakespeare and modern day politics collide. He‘s talking at the Hay Digital Festival in a few weeks too 🤔

Deblovestoread This looks fascinating. 2y
Leftcoastzen Interesting! 2y
Cuilin Stacked. 2y
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Cuilin @Mitch do you have hayplayer? Looks tempting. 2y
Leftcoastzen I like the UK cover much more than US cover! 2y
Mitch @Cuilin I don‘t - I‘ve just checked it out ... looks interesting. 2y
Mitch @Leftcoastzen I love how UK/US editions change covers so much! 2y
Birdsong28 Haven't got my copy through yet! Hopefully it will be in Monday's post Love this magazine I have been a subscriber for years 📚📖 2y
59 likes1 stack add8 comments