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Robert Boog
Shakey's Madness
Robert Boog, author
Do you remember 2020 and the Corona virus pandemic? Back then, California was shutdown like Blockbuster Video, and while spending time watching daytime TV, I noticed several ads promoting, “Latuda”. What was is Latuda? What is it used for? And of course, how much does it cost? The answer, the drug costs around $1,500 for a 30-day supply and it is used to treat people with bipolar disorder. (Manic depression) A little later that same day, I happened to be doom-scrolling on Twitter, and I saw a video of the actor Patrick Stewart. Patrick was reading a Shakespeare sonnet. After listening to the woe and despair of the “real” author, I got to thinking, “Wow. It sounds like Shakespeare could have used Latuda!” This got me to thinking about mental health symptoms and the “real” author of Shakespeare. Sincerely. What if the “real” author of the Shakespeare canon DID need Latuda? What if he subconsciously exhibited signs of bipolar disorder in his plays, sonnets and poems? Would not this be like DNA evidence proving the “real” author of Shakespeare? The book is 130 pages including an Introduction and an index. Here is what people are saying:If I were a reviewer randomly coming across this book, I would give it five stars. Please don’t think I’m holding back on being critical, it really was a fun and informative read.—A.O. “The most enjoyable conspiracy book I have read!” “An enjoyable read, packed with information and a fresh take on the theory that Shakespeare never wrote a word. Can we apply our modern knowledge of mental health to uncover the identity of the true author?”
Approaching the persistent mysteries surrounding William Shakespeare in the style of his favorite TV detective, the obsessive-compulsive Adrian Monk, Boog dives deep into conspiracy theories about the playwright’s true identity. His conversational book raises compelling questions regarding the bard’s mental health and whether the dominant themes in his works aren’t compatible with what historians know about his actual life. Why does Boog doubt the accepted history of the English language’s greatest playwright? To put it simply, the facts don’t add up. “I am a nobody and friends of mine have notes I wrote to them in the 9th grade,” he writes, but “for over 400 years, not one letter that [Shakespeare] wrote to his wife, colleague or friend has ever been found.”

Then comes the really interesting stuff: According to Boog’s research, “there is almost a 25 percent chance that when you watch a Shakespeare play, [a character] will faint on stage.” Boog suggests it’s possible that Shakespeare’s fascination with dramatic swoons wasn’t merely a physiological response to strong emotions. Instead, he asserts, it could have been an indication of epilepsy or bipolar disorder–and according to historical records, Shakespeare did not exhibit any symptoms associated with these conditions.

Boog backs up his claims with plenty of excerpts from the plays and sonnets–as well as a healthy dose of humor. He also makes an argument for why exploring the playwright’s true identity is important, even centuries later. “The search for the ‘real’ Shakespeare is not just a search for the truth, it has to do with expanding our culture,” he writes, arguing that revelations like the ones he’s after could provide inspiration for bipolar individuals who still encounter stigma and mistrust. While his litany of conspiracies at times can feel a bit rambling, Boog’s good-natured voice will keep more casual readers onboard, while enthusiasts of Shakespearian identity mysteries will find many points of interest.

Takeaway: A deep, sometimes funny dive into theories about Shakespeare’s true identity and mental health.

Great for fans of: James Shapiro’s Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?, Ted Bacino’s The Shakespeare Conspiracy: A Novel About the Greatest Literary Deception of All Time.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: B
Editing: C+
Marketing copy: C+