November 17, 2013

Book Review: Shakespeare's Restless World by Neil MacGregor

Shakespeare's Restless World

Author: Neil MacGregor
Genre: Nonfiction/History
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Viking
Source: Hardcover from Publisher


The New York Times bestselling author of A History of the World in 100 Objects brings the world of Shakespeare and the Tudor era of Elizabeth I into focus

We feel we know Shakespeare’s characters. Think of Hamlet, trapped in indecision, or Macbeth’s merciless and ultimately self-destructive ambition, or the Machiavellian rise and short reign of Richard III. They are so vital, so alive and real that we can see aspects of ourselves in them. But their world was at once familiar and nothing like our own.

In this brilliant work of historical reconstruction Neil MacGregor and his team at the British Museum, working together in a landmark collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the BBC, bring us twenty objects that capture the essence of Shakespeare’s universe. A perfect complement to A History of the World in 100 Objects, MacGregor’s landmark New York Times bestseller, Shakespeare’s Restless World highlights a turning point in human history.

This magnificent book, illustrated throughout with more than one hundred vibrant color photographs, invites you to travel back in history and to touch, smell, and feel what life was like at that pivotal moment, when humankind leaped into the modern age. This was an exhilarating time when discoveries in science and technology altered the parameters of the known world. Sir Francis Drake’s circumnavigation map allows us to imagine the age of exploration from the point of view of one of its most ambitious navigators. A bishop’s cup captures the most sacred and divisive act in Christendom.

With A History of the World in 100 Objects, MacGregor pioneered a new way of telling history through artifacts. Now he trains his eye closer to home, on a subject that has mesmerized him since childhood, and lets us see Shakespeare and his world in a whole new light.

As a graduate student in English, I've had a lot of exposure to Shakespeare throughout my college and graduate career. I have always been a huge fan of the Bard and his works and the time period when he lived always intrigued me as well. This book was a perfect blend of history and biography as the author takes us into the life and times of Shakespeare. The book tells of various objects that helped to define the period of time that Shakespeare and his contemporaries lived in. Although this is a nonfiction book, it's told in a very conversational tone which makes all the information accessible and fascinating - not bored and dry. Aiding the narrative and historical facts are fantastic illustrations, maps, and copies to show the views, beliefs, ideals, and general lifestyle of Shakespeare's time. The various media included in the book really added to the text and made it more exciting and easier to picture for the reader. The writing was well done - informative and full of great facts and history, but - like I mentioned above - it wasn't dry or boring to read. I enjoyed learning all about the different facets of life during that time period and this book does a wonderful job of explaining, highlighting, and illustrating some really fascinating aspects not everyone knows about. Highly recommended for fans of history nonfiction and Shakespeare buffs alike.

*A big thanks to Viking for sending me a copy of the book for review!*

No comments:

Post a Comment