Wow! What a book!
However, it should come with a warning label: "Caution - Not for the faint of heart!" The best way to describe it is "The Double Prince Tudor Theory...On Steroids!!" I think most students of the controversy will know what I mean. Those of us who are Oxfordians consider ourselves to be open-minded. Otherwise we wouldn't be Oxfordians in the first place. Well, trust me: Your open-mindedness will be pushed to the limit after you read this book.
As a byproduct of studying the Shakespeare-Oxford authorship question for about 25 years, I long ago came to the realization that Tudor England was a dysfunctional, authoritarian society that produced dysfunctional individuals and dysfunctional relationships. This was especially true in the Elizabethan court circles and is most dramatically personified in the seemingly unexplainable composite biography of Edward DeVere that has emerged in recent years. Without this perspective, it is almost impossible to make sense of the more bizarre revelations about DeVere, Queen Elizabeth, Southampton, the Burghley's, and the many others involved in this complex mystery. Mike A'Dair has succeeded in fitting together all the pieces of this puzzle, weaving an intricate mosaic that, in my mind at least, explains the authorship questions in all its ramifications.
I've read most of the more notable and controversial books that have come along in recent years, including those of authors Charlton Ogburn, Paul Streitz, Hank Whittemore, Joseph Sobran, Elisabeth Sears, Mark Anderson, Diana Price, and Charles Beauclerk, among many others. All have made significant contributions to the Oxfordian cause and all have proposed ideas that seem to make sense. But I've often wondered how could all of them be correct? Don't some theories mitigate against others? They can't all possibly be right. That's true, but A'Dair selectively "picks and chooses" through all these books, adopting many of the major themes and successfully incorporates them into a "big picture" that makes sense of the entire controversy. He offers a coherent explanation as to why DeVere wrote under the pseudonym "William Shake-speare", and why this fabrication had to be maintained after his death and even over the ensuing centuries. Putting it all in the context of dysfunctional Tudor society, he exposes the many bizarre relationships of these major players that have been successfully concealed for over 400 years.
The book consists of four essays dealing with different aspects of the authorship question. The first essay effectively demolishes the quaint notion that William Shaksper of Stratford-on-Avon was the author of the Shakespeare cannon. The second establishes the case for DeVere as the author, writing under the hyphenated pseudonym, "William Shake-speare." Many of the ideas presented here will be old-hat to Oxfordians of long standing, but these are detailed, intricate studies, and I found enough fresh material to make them enjoyable reads. Furthermore, these two essays can be used as an effective primer for those who you are trying to introduce to the controversy.
It's in the third essay where things really get hot, and where A'Dair makes significant new contributions to the authorship question. His conclusions are controversial - no doubt about that - but he makes his points based solely on the evidence that he has before him using his signature unemotional, matter-of-fact reasoning and writing style. He's so calm and controlled, I often wondered if he appreciated the significance of what he was proposing! I won't enumerate his controversial conclusions here - I'll let you read them for yourself. To my mind, he presents a convincing case.
If you are new to the controversy wondering what all the fuss is about, or if you are a seasoned Oxfordian like me, I suggest you read this book and make up your own mind as to whether or not Mike A'Dair has made a convincing case for Edward DeVere. But fasten your seat beats and take your heart medication before you do! And bring an open mind...Otherwise, you'll think Mike A'Dair has gone totally over the edge.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to all who have an open mind, and with no vested interest in this fascinating subject other than an urgent and pressing pursuit of the truth.