Hacking America, History of Information, History of Africa, William Shakespeare

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At this moment, there is a batch of very interesting and generally acclaimed books for sale really cheap in Kindle form in the US, that I suspect readers of this blog will be interested in.

A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599 by James Shapiro. Good reviews, but this is outside my area of expertise so I can’t say for sure, but it looks good.

Creek Mary’s Blood: A Novel by “Burry my Heart at Wounded Knee” author Dee Brown.

Africa: A History is an anthology that includes some older material, but all good. This is totally within my area of expertise, and I can say this book is full of classic writing by classic scholars. Not a light read. Edited by Alvin Josephy.

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick.

The Plot to Hack America: How Putin’s Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election by Malcom Nance.

Have you read the breakthrough novel of the year? When you are done with that, try:

In Search of Sungudogo by Greg Laden, now in Kindle or Paperback
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2 thoughts on “Hacking America, History of Information, History of Africa, William Shakespeare

  1. I’ve read part of Nance’s “The Plot to Betray America” which may overlap in part with “The Plot to Hack America” but for $1.99 I’ll chance it. The former book includes the prelude to Trump’s campaign and the Russian promise to “help him”, his coterie of aides and abetters: Flynn, Stone, and Manafort, and a description of the power-related social structure of oligarchs, politicians, and government agencies in Russia under Putin, and Putin’s preferred methods. In that book, it is easy to see why Trump admires Putin, the master of all Russia, and is attempting to turn the U. S. into something similar. It is also clear that Trump is but the puppet and Putin the puppeteer in that relationship.

    I have no way of validating the details and conclusions in what I’ve read, except by references to other books, news articles, and some knowledge of Trump’s rhetoric and behavior, but none of it strikes me as unlikely.

  2. Re: A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE: 1599, by James Shapiro

    I listened to the audiobook version of this a couple of years ago, and it is an outstanding book. Although not outside my area of (avocational) expertise, I’m also unable to review it at length because of my poor memory. With that caveat, I can still enthusiastically recommend it.

    The concept of singling out a single year “in the life of” [whomever] is often used to good effect, and this is especially true here for two reasons: (1) You do get a comprehensive cultural and historical snapshot of what it was like to live in the subject’s milieu at the time, which a traditional linear biography cannot so well achieve; and (2) 1599 was truly a pivotal year in William Shakespeare’s life.

    But I’m thinking now about two themes that reappear time and again in this Blog:

    FIRST – and this might admittedly be somewhat of a stretch – it occurs to me that Anthony Fauci is to Donald Trump what William Shakespeare was to Queen Elizabeth I and her censors – an extremely talented political tightrope walker, in dangerous times.

    SECOND, this book (and all responsible biographies of Shakespeare) demolish the unfortunately persistent myth that the man from Stratford-upon-Avon could not have written Shakespeare’s plays, or in other words, William Shakespeare was not William Shakespeare.

    Shakespeare deniers (who include such esteemed personages as Sir Derek Jacobi, one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of the past sixty years) are to the humanities and English literature what climate-change deniers are to the sciences and Environmental Science. Shakespeare didn’t live such a long time ago – and in any case, details of his life and interactions with contemporaries, even down to his financial ledgers, are extraordinarily well documented. But all you have to be is a Shakespeare fanatic, as I am, and see the same idiosyncratic (indeed obsessive) phrases and themes repeated time and again in his core plays, to know that they were written by one coherent artistic voice. One amazing genius. (I’m not counting his known collaborations.) As counter-examples, would you confuse Hemingway’s style for Fitzgerald’s? Could you possibly blend Faulkner and Steinbeck and say they were the same author, let alone someone other than Faulkner or Steinbeck?

    (Of course, this in itself does not rule out the possibility of this unitary idiosyncratic voice being that of one of the more infamous ersatz candidates for Will’s “real” identity.) But the other parallel with evolution deniers, with global warming deniers, and so forth, is that what’s true of the burden borne by our best scientists and science communicators, is also true of the Shakespeare identity canard – namely, the sad reality that our very best English literature scholars have had to waste years of their professional lives and tons of ink, debunking the stubborn and gullible Shakespeare naysayers.

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