Bookshelf

• “The aim of poetry,” H.L. Mencken once claimed, “is to give a high and voluptuous plausibility to what is palpably not true.” It would be hard to come up with a less apt explanation of Shakespeare’s eternal appeal. We read him for many reasons, but surely the most basic one is that he tells us—beautifully—what we know is so, in the process strengthening our sense of reality. That such a man must have been by definition intelligent would seem self-evident, but in the never-never land of contemporary academic criticism, nothing is self-evident, and so A.D. Nuttall, lately of Oxford, has written Shakespeare the Thinker (Yale, 428 pp., $30), a book dedicated to the proposition that the Bard was smart.

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Bookshelf

Must-Reads from Magazine

A New Wave of Terror

The ISIS threat explodes around the globe.

A familiar introspection set in after the horrific terrorist attack on a concert in Manchester, England. True to form, celebrities and provocateurs flew to their corners. Immigration was the topic; both sides argued that it should either be curtailed or that the UK must stay its pluralistic course. Given the nature of the attack, however, an extroverted response seems more justified. The attack in Manchester was a remarkably sophisticated one and likely benefited from foreign assistance. Moreover, it has been accompanied by a wave of global terrorism.

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The Tragic Familiarity of the Manchester Attack

Making a tough job even tougher.

The Manchester bombing, which killed 22 people, appears to have followed a familiar pattern. It’s one that is instantly recognizable from the profiles of other Western terrorists.

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Are Unknown Soldiers Identifiable?

Do we forget soldiers who might still be recovered?

For too many Americans, Memorial Day is a day off from school or work, or the beginning of the summer barbecue season. Of course, it should be much, much more than that. It should be a day to remember, honor, and offer gratitude to those who sacrificed their lives so that the United States, Europe, Australia, and large swaths of Asia might be free.