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Shakespeare Audiobook
Shakespeare
Written by: 
Bill Bryson
Narrated by: 
Bill Bryson
Shakespeare Audiobook

Shakespeare: The World as Stage

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Publisher's Summary

William Shakespeare, the most celebrated poet in the English language, left behind nearly a million words of text, but his biography has long been a thicket of wild supposition arranged around scant facts. With a steady hand and his trademark wit, Bill Bryson sorts through this colorful muddle to reveal the man himself.

Bryson documents the efforts of earlier scholars, from academics to eccentrics. Emulating the style of his famous travelogues, Bryson records episodes in his research, including a visit to a bunker-like basement room in Washington, D.C., where the world's largest collection of First Folios is housed.

Bryson celebrates Shakespeare as a writer of unimaginable talent and enormous inventiveness, a coiner of phrases ("vanish into thin air", "foregone conclusion", "one fell swoop") that even today have common currency. His Shakespeare is like no one else's: the beneficiary of Bryson's genial nature, his engaging skepticism, and a gift for storytelling unrivaled in our time.

©2007 Bill Bryson; (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers

What the Critics Say

"Bryson is a pleasant and funny guide to a subject at once overexposed and elusive." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (1035 )
5 star
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3 star
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4.3 (574 )
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Story
4.4 (581 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Lawrence 01-23-12
    Lawrence 01-23-12 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Shakespeare is Shakespeare"
    If you could sum up Shakespeare in three words, what would they be?

    Shakespeare is Shakespeare


    What did you like best about this story?

    Balanced view of the evidence


    Which character ??? as performed by Bill Bryson ??? was your favorite?

    Not an appropriate question


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    I wouldn't even try to make this into a film.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Banovetz Stevens Point, WI USA 01-23-12
    S. Banovetz Stevens Point, WI USA 01-23-12 Member Since 2008
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    "A fun read/listen"
    Would you listen to Shakespeare again? Why?

    Yes, to go over historical facts as Bryson saw them.


    What about Bill Bryson’s performance did you like?

    He is some what different from other performers, it's his own book and he read it with energy.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa Yarmouth, ME, United States 04-09-11
    Lisa Yarmouth, ME, United States 04-09-11
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    "Too little..."

    I have always been a fan of Bill Bryson, but this was his first book to disappoint... The simple truth is there is too little to know about Shakespeare to justify the book. This is, of course, really too bad as I would really love to know more about it.

    That being said, Bryson is fabulous as usual, his writing is terrific, and so is his narration. In certain parts you can hear he is having trouble not laughing, causing me too laugh out loud myself, attracting strange looks from people on the subway.

    Over all - The subject matter gets 3 stars (for while it was interesting, as I said above, the actual facts were few and far between). However, the writing gets five stars as usual, thus garnishing a four star review.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary 03-15-11
    Gary 03-15-11 Member Since 2014
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    "Only Bryson book I gave up on"

    The very long prelude is persuasive that there's not much known for sure about Shakespeare... and then goes into absurdly tiny detail about the supposed life he led.

    I couldn't force myself to continue... but based on my prior enjoyment of Bryson's OTHER work, I would still try another of his books without concern.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Geri Sunnyvale, CA, United States 03-13-11
    Geri Sunnyvale, CA, United States 03-13-11 Member Since 2007
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    "fascinating"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I learned all sorts of fascinating facts about Shakespeare and his time.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Meyer 07-12-10
    Laura Meyer 07-12-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Great info about Shakespeare"

    I didn't realize how little I knew about the Bard until I listened to this book. Bryson does an excellent job of summing up Shakespeare's life in an engaging way. He reads it well, too. He points out where the historical record is thin and where we have solid information about Shakespeare. It's incredible to learn how we know what we do (and don't) about the Bard. The last chapter is great. I wouldn't say this is a comedic book, but it's very entertaining and does have some good laughing moments too.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jt Ipswich, MA, USA 03-11-08
    Jt Ipswich, MA, USA 03-11-08 Member Since 2014
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    "Well done!"

    A concise yet satisfying trip through the life of the Bard, excellently written and structured.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Fillmore, CA, United States 01-23-09
    Laura Fillmore, CA, United States 01-23-09 Member Since 2013
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    "very enjoyable!!"

    I downloaded this book to kill time while driving but found that I really wanted to pay more attention to it than I could while on the road. Bill Bryson's lyric humor and research of the subject makes this most enjoyable.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean Andres 10-31-07
    Sean Andres 10-31-07
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    "To be avoided."

    Being a die hard Bryson fan, it's hard to imagine this book came from him. The pitcher has lost his arm but stayed on the mound! A fantastically dull book. This is the buy of the year if one is interested in reading all he could never want to know about what can never be known about Shakespeare. A true shame it has Bryson's name on it.

    26 of 45 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Philadelphia, PA, United States 06-12-16
    Scott Philadelphia, PA, United States 06-12-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Very enjoyable"

    Concise, but enjoyable biography. I particularly like the discussions dealing with the ridiculous anti-Stratfordians. Yes, Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. I thought this and Schapiro's book are the two best I have come across dealing with the authorship issue. In any case, I would recommend this book for anyone interested in Shakespeare.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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