A lively, heterodox take on the Bard of Avon.



Boog enthusiastically takes on mainstream William Shakespeare scholars in this iconoclastic work of literary criticism.

The 2011 film Anonymous gave flesh to the argument that a nobleman named Edward de Vere wrote most or all of the plays ascribed to Shakespeare. The thesis wasn’t unknown in scholarly circles; indeed, most academics considered it thoroughly debunked. And yet the question at its heart—did someone else write Shakespeare?—remains tantalizing, and Boog tackles it with admirable verve in this book of criticism. For him, the record is clear: de Vere wrote the plays, and Shakespeare was just a poor bumpkin. Boog has an intriguing thesis as to why de Vere used a pseudonym, and a pile of scientific, historical, and textual material that purportedly proves his case. He lays it all out with remarkable energy, and it’s a thrill to watch him circle letters in Ben Jonson’s sonnets, delve into the minutiae of Copernican astronomy, and review obscure pieces of Renaissance history. Much of the putative evidence feels circumstantial, but it’s hard not to enjoy the ride as Boog presents it, even if he sometimes treats his opponents unfairly by oversimplifying their arguments. For instance, he writes: “Only Shakespeare, they insist, could have written the works attributed to William Shakespeare. Why? Basically, because other writers have said so.” This is uncharitable, at best, as numerous scholars have done exhaustive historical and archival research on the matter. Boog’s book, on the other hand, lacks a bibliography, and the fact he occasionally misspells scholars’ names doesn’t bolster his credibility. Furthermore, the fact that many “other writers,” over the course of centuries, say that Shakespeare wrote his works shouldn’t be so easily dismissed. That being said, there is provocative, if anecdotal, information in these pages, and Boog’s review of it is often quite fun. Indeed, it’s hard not to be pulled in by the breathless “mystery.”

A lively, heterodox take on the Bard of Avon.

Pub Date: March 8, 2020


Page Count: 121

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.


A master storyteller’s character-driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution.

Against world systems, economic determinist and other external-cause schools of historical thought, McCullough (John Adams, 2001, etc.) has an old-fashioned fondness for the great- (and not-so-great) man tradition, which may not have much explanatory power but almost always yields better-written books. McCullough opens with a courteous nod to the customary villain in the story of American independence, George III, who turns out to be a pleasant and artistically inclined fellow who relied on poor advice; his Westmoreland, for instance, was a British general named Grant who boasted that with 5,000 soldiers he “could march from one end of the American continent to the other.” Other British officers agitated for peace, even as George wondered why Americans would not understand that to be a British subject was to be free by definition. Against these men stood arrayed a rebel army that was, at the least, unimpressive; McCullough observes that New Englanders, for instance, considered washing clothes to be women’s work and so wore filthy clothes until they rotted, with the result that Burgoyne and company had a point in thinking the Continentals a bunch of ragamuffins. The Americans’ military fortunes were none too good for much of 1776, the year of the Declaration; at the slowly unfolding battle for control over New York, George Washington was moved to despair at the sight of sometimes drunk soldiers running from the enemy and of their officers “who, instead of attending to their duty, had stood gazing like bumpkins” at the spectacle. For a man such as Washington, to be a laughingstock was the supreme insult, but the British were driven by other motives than to irritate the general—not least of them reluctance to give up a rich, fertile and beautiful land that, McCullough notes, was providing the world’s highest standard of living in 1776.

Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-2671-2

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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