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HANG SHAKESPEARE!

BUT NOT DE VERE: A TRUE STORY MYSTERY SOLVED

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

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 121

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2020

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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