RaveThe Washington Post...magnificent ... Clearly McCrum is engaged with his own era. In a discussion of Shakespeare’s humor, he quotes from and analyzes a BBC interview with Phoebe Waller-Bridge, creator of Fleabag, about how comedy works ... In McCrum’s thoughtful explorations of modern Shakespearean tragedy, Donald Trump naturally comes up ... In his enthusiasm, McCrum doesn’t flinch from expressing broad-brush opinions, but he does it so well it doesn’t matter if occasionally he dresses opinion as fact ... I had the odd feeling that Mr. McCrum had written this book for me ... I am not a Shakespearean scholar, but I have hiked around in this habitat, and Shakespearean is the first such tome that I have found not only thought-provoking but also moving and inspirational. McCrum’s living and breathing book reminds us why the fire of literature warms the soul.
Laura Dassow Walls
RaveThe Washington PostThis new biography is the masterpiece that the gadfly of youthful America deserves ... her broad grasp of the era’s scientific issues integrates Thoreau’s dawning ecological conscience into a better-understood context than most writers on the topic can provide ... Walls is too well versed in Thoreau’s life to accept his own often contradictory pronouncements or his semi-fictional first-person narrator as necessarily factual. She teases out nuances and implications, but without unfounded speculation.