The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in Nineteenth-Century America

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Random House Publishing Group, Apr 17, 2007 - History - 312 pages
19 Reviews
One of the bloodiest incidents in New York's history, the so-called Astor Place Riot of May 10, 1849, was ignited by a long-simmering grudge match between the two leading Shakespearean actors of the age. Despite its unlikely origins, though, there was nothing remotely quaint about this pivotal moment in history–the unprecedented shooting by American soldiers of dozens of their fellow citizens, leading directly to the arming of American police forces.

The Shakespeare Riots recounts the story of this momentous night, its two larger-than-life protagonists, and the myriad political and cultural currents that fueled the violence. In an engrossing narrative that moves at a breakneck pace from the American frontier to the Mississippi River, to the posh theaters of London, to the hangouts of the most notorious street gangs of the day, Nigel Cliff weaves a spellbinding saga of soaring passions, huge egos, and venal corruption.

Cliff charts the course of this tragedy from its beginnings as a somewhat comical contretemps between Englishman William Charles Macready, the haughty lion of the London stage, and Edwin Forrest, the first great American star and a popular hero to millions. Equally celebrated, and equally self-centered, the two were once friends, then adversaries. Exploiting this rivalry, “nativist” agitators organized mobs of bullyboys to flex their muscle by striking a blow against the foppish Macready and the Old World's cultural hegemony that he represented.

The moment Macready took the stage in New York, his adversaries sprang into action, first by throwing insults, then rotten eggs, then chairs. When he dared show his face again, an estimated twenty thousand packed the streets around the theater. As cobblestones from outside rained down on the audience, National Guard troops were called in to quell the riot. Finding themselves outmatched, the Guardsmen discharged their weapons at the crowd, with horrific results. When the smoke cleared, as many as thirty people lay dead, with scores more wounded.

The Shakespeare Riots is social and cultural history of the highest order. In this wondrous saga Nigel Cliff immerses readers in the bustle of mid-nineteenth-century New York, re-creating the celebrity demimonde of the day and capturing all the high drama of a violent night that robbed a nation of its innocence.

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Review: The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in Nineteenth-Century America

User Review  - Jim Ransweiler - Goodreads

Ok, so I bought this book 6 years ago....can it be that long? I've started and restarted numerous times, this time it finally took. An absolute fantastic read. It feels fictional at times but always a great read. Pick it up, read, enjoy! Read full review

Review: The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in Nineteenth-Century America

User Review  - Sharyn - Goodreads

I'm rating this a 4.9 - extremely enjoyable non-fiction. Read full review

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Contents

A Shakespearean Ark
13
The Western Star
19
Rogues and Vagabonds
35
Copyright

13 other sections not shown

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Glimmerglass Opera Book Club: Nigel Cliff's The Shakespeare Riots ...
Nigel Cliff's The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in Nineteenth-Century America. “One of the bloodiest incidents in New York’s history, ...
glimmerglassoperabookclub.blogspot.com/ 2008/ 01/ nigel-cliffs-shakespeare-riots-revenge.html

Random House Publishing Group | The Shakespeare Riots by Nigel Cliff
hr. hr. The Shakespeare Riots Written by Nigel Cliff Category: History - United States - 19th Century Publisher: Random House Format: Hardcover, 336 pages ...
www.randomhouse.com/ rhpg/ catalog/ display.pperl?isbn=9780345486943& view=excerpt

Steve Goddard's History Wire: Book Alert / The Shakespeare Riots
Where the Past Comes Alive. « Book Alert / The Civilian Conservation Corps in Arizona's Rim Country | Main | Book Alert / William Shakespeare Complete Works ...
www.historywire.com/ 2007/ 05/ book_alert_the__6.html

When the play really was the thing - The Boston Globe
The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in Nineteenth-Century America By Nigel Cliff Random House, 312 pp., illustrated, $26.95 ...
www.boston.com/ ae/ books/ articles/ 2007/ 07/ 15/ when_the_play_really_was_the_thing/

ibistro Montgomery County Dept. of Public Libraries
The Shakespeare riots : revenge, drama, and death in nineteenth-century America Cliff, Nigel. "One of the bloodiest incidents in New York's history, ...
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The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in Nineteenth ...
The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in Nineteenth-Century America; CLIFF, NIGEL. Offered by Left Coast Books.
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Pearl's Picks: April, 2008
... a book like Nigel Cliff's The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in Nineteenth Century America is published, demonstrating just how wrong that ...
www.farmlib.org/ books/ pearlspicks.html

The Shakespeare Blog » Blog Archive » Dying for Shakespeare: The ...
The Boston Globe recently touted the publication of Nigel Cliff’s The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in Nineteenth-Century America. ...
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The Shakespeare riots: revenge, drama, and death in nineteenth-century America The Shakespeare riots: revenge, drama, and death in nineteenth-century ...
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About the author (2007)

Nigel Cliff was educated at Oxford University, where he was awarded a double First in English and the Beddington Prize for English literature. He is a former theater and film critic for the London Times and a contributor to The Economist. This is his first book.

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