Shakespeare in a Divided America

By James Shapiro,

Book cover of Shakespeare in a Divided America: What His Plays Tell Us about Our Past and Future

Book description

One of the New York Times Ten Best Books of the Year * A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist * A New York Times Notable Book

A timely exploration of what Shakespeare's plays reveal about our divided land.

"In this sprightly and enthralling book . . . Shapiro amply…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Shakespeare in a Divided America as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I bought Shakespeare in a Divided America in the misguided belief that the author was the son of an old friend and colleague. The other attraction was Shakespeare himself: My mother was a high school English teacher, and the words of the Bard were a lingua franca at our dinner table. The book did not disappoint! 

In a series of chapters that carry the reader from the 1830s to the 2020s, Shapiro shows how Shakespeare’s plays have been entwined with the politics and culture of the nation on subjects ranging from race to manifest destiny, from immigration to same sex…

This book was amazing in helping me think about Shakespeare and the history of divisions in our own history. Like all of James Shapiro’s work, Shakespeare in a Divided America is filled with fascinating information delivered in lively and engaging prose. This book provides a cultural and historical exploration of how readings and performances of Shakespeare’s plays in the past two centuries have exposed fault lines in our country’s political and social fabric. In the nineteenth century, the assassination of President Lincoln and the deadly Astor Place Riots; in the twentieth-century debates over free speech, gender, immigration, and race; and…

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