The Eighteeth Book I've Read This Year.

Books James Shapiro looks at key moments in the culture war still raging in the US and investigates how they were influenced by the canon. Much of it is hair raising. We discover that the abolitionist John Quincy Adams was incredibly queezy about Othello, a point which he expounded upon to Fanny Kemble, sister of Richard, at a dinner party, day (to paraphrase) that Desdemona got what she deserved for marrying an "n-word". That Ulysses S Grant almost went on stage as Desdemona in his younger days. How anti-English sentiment caused riots during a production of Macbeth in New York. That John Wilkes Booth believed himself to be a modern Brutus when he assassinated Lincoln who himself used to spend hours quoting a discussing Shakespeare with anyone who'd listen. There are also fascinating chapters about the making of Kiss Me Kate and Shakespeare in Love, rounding out with an essay about what happened when the assassination of Caesar in the Trump inflected Shakespeare in the Park production went viral (Shapiro worked as an advisor).  Marvellous stuff.