History Unplugged Podcast
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How Shakespeare Impacted U.S. Presidents, from John Adams to JFK

February 23, 2023
00:00 40:27
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There are countless ways Shakespeare has made his way into unexpected corners of American life. It starts at the top with our presidents. Shakespeare is a longtime ally of America’s Commanders-in-Chief: Thomas Jefferson took a pilgrimage to his house, John Adams took lessons from King Lear about child usurpers, and JFK thought that the Bard spoke so directly to the U.S.’s Cold War challenges that he was more American than British. But Shakespeare speaks to many other classes of people. In 1849, a riot broke out in New York between working class and aristocratic theatre fans over which actor did the best Hamlet, and 31 were left dead.
Today’s guest is Barry Edelstein, a seasoned director of Shakespeare and host of the new podcast Where There’s a Will: Finding Shakespeare. . From a Henry V performance in a maximum security prison to a look at how Shakespeare assists children on the autism spectrum, we explore why the Bard’s works permeate our history and culture, and what that says about him, and about our society.

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Meet Your Host
Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to scottrankphd.com.
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