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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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