James Shapiro, "Shakespeare in a Divided America" (Penguin, 2020)


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In Shakespeare in a Divided America: What His Plays Tell Us About Our Past and Future (Penguin, 2020) renowned Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro turns his attention to the reception of Shakespeare in the US from the colonial period to the present. Shapiro brings us a John Quincy Adams morbidly obsessed with Othello, an Abraham Lincoln who preferred Edwin Booth’s acting over the bombastic performances of his younger brother John Wilkes, and a female Romeo who took America by storm in the during the period of Manifest Destiny.

By turns funny, surprising, and profound, Shakespeare in a Divided America shows us the ways Shakespeare has been enlisted in the service both sides in every major conflict in American history. This is a book that will appeal equally to history buffs and Shakespeare fans, as well as the casual reader looking for a new lens with which to view the history of our fractured nation.

Andy Boyd is a playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the playwriting MFA at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Arizona School for the Arts. His plays have been produced, developed, or presented at IRT, Pipeline Theatre Company, The Gingold Group, Dixon Place, Roundabout Theatre, Epic Theatre Company, Out Loud Theatre, Naked Theatre Company, Contemporary Theatre of Rhode Island, and The Trunk Space. He is currently working on a series of 50 plays about the 50 U.S. states. His website is AndyJBoyd.com, and he can be reached at andyjamesboyd@gmail.com.

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