Whatever scenarios William Shakespeare dreamt up between 1590 and 1615, even he could not have imagined Americans’ embrace of him for their 19th and 20th century agendas. From war and marriage to immigration and murder, if you needed big names on your side, enlist Desdemona or Caliban, Kate or Falstaff to speak their piece. John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and Henry Cabot Lodge did. In Shakespeare in a Divided America: What His Plays Tell Us about Our Past and Future (Penguin Press, 2020) by James Shapiro shows how America’s outspoken thinkers turned to a centuries old quill for words of wisdom. Shapiro has written volumes on Bardian interpretations; this relatively short book highlights a few dramas, off stage and on, and lets us interpret Will’s influence. Easily accessible articles supplement the text if, like most people, you need to brush up on your Shakespeare.