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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reference book as intro to the works
This book is an excellent starting point for actor/student/teacher alike. It does not try to be any more than that. I use it to give me an all round introduction to shakespeare's works - from a synopsis of the play Act by Act, to useful and interesting information about the performances of the play and themes involved. This book has answered many questions for me and is...
Published on 13 Jan 2010 by Mr. M. A. Thompson

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28 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars As glossy and colourful as Disneyworld
This is a very American sort of Shakespeare reference work, i.e. it isn't about conveying real knowledge, just about creating a general feel-good, affirmatory sort of effect. It states all kinds of half-proved hypotheses as though they were established facts, and uses all sorts of dubious pictures without distinguishing the ones that have any authority as evidence from...
Published on 5 July 2004


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reference book as intro to the works, 13 Jan 2010
By 
Mr. M. A. Thompson (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Essential Shakespeare Handbook (Paperback)
This book is an excellent starting point for actor/student/teacher alike. It does not try to be any more than that. I use it to give me an all round introduction to shakespeare's works - from a synopsis of the play Act by Act, to useful and interesting information about the performances of the play and themes involved. This book has answered many questions for me and is very accessible.

Some of the synopses at times could benefit from a little more flesh, but summarising Shakespeare is never an easy task and on the whole this is done expertly. It is just a starting point, but can be used to supplement the reading of the works or as a quick reference to check detail later on.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exremely useful, 8 Jun 2010
By 
Graham (staffs England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Essential Shakespeare Handbook (Paperback)
I'm an actor and when i have a late audition for a Shakespeare production or just need to find somethin out quickly this book offers all i need, not overloaded with information it provides a brief but relevant overview of some of the greatest plays ever written. Ideal for anyone who needs to know more about the plays fast!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Sakespeare, 12 Jan 2010
By 
Caterpillar (Peterborough, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Essential Shakespeare Handbook (Paperback)
Great book. I do love the Dorling Kindersley style of production for reference books covering big subjects. This book is a distillation of every work by Shakespeare and leaves you with a much broader understanding of the plays and their context. Can be read as a straight forward read and can sit on the shelves for reference - the visual treatments make the book easier to absorb and more enjoyable - an update on the old "Look and Learn" style but a lot more sophisticated.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and informative, 29 Jan 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Essential Shakespeare Handbook (Paperback)
I found this book extremely informative (there's a huge amount of information in here) and at the same time great fun. While I understand that the the glossy presentation (very similar to DK's Eyewitness Travel series) might not be to everyone's taste, I actually found it very attractive, and didn't find that it detracted from the well written and well researched content. It has also been recommended by Kenneth Branagh, and two former directors of the National Theatre, no less.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Shakespeare Handbook, 14 July 2012
This review is from: Essential Shakespeare Handbook (Paperback)
Absolutely brilliant, this will really help me with my English homework as it is about the life of Shakespeare, pleasure doing business with you, many thanks :)
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Shakespeare Handbook, 12 July 2004
This review is from: Essential Shakespeare Handbook (Paperback)
This is a most informative and impressive guide. An invaluable handbook for anyone studying or planning a visit to any of Shakespeare's plays. In fact, I was so impressed I have recommended it to several friends and colleagues and plan to give it as a gift wherever I can.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The play's the thing ...", 14 Aug 2012
By 
Nicholas Casley (Plymouth, Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Essential Shakespeare Handbook (Paperback)
Despite the fact that I have never heard of the authors - and no brief biography of them is given - this is rather a good book to have and to hold. In the Dorling Kindersley tradition, it is certainly very colourful, with plenty of well-chosen and evocative illustrations. There are brief introductory essays on what is known about Shakespeare's life, his time, his theatre, his language and his canon (including other contenders).

But the bulk of the book comprises introductions and concise analyses of all his plays. We are provided for each play with a list of the parts (including the number of lines for each part); a synopsis of the plot; a one-page commentary; and a look at how each play has been performed over the years - all within about seven pages. In addition there are useful analyses such as the length of each play (and of each act), the percentages between poetry and prose, plus a brief `who's who'. There are, of course, numerous extracts.

After the plays there are reviews of his non-dramatic poetry, including an analysis of one of the sonnets. Finally, the end of the book has features on `Global Shakespeare', an overview of the Bard's global impact. For example, we learn that even today, "Shakespeare is more widely read and performed in Germany than any other playwright. This section also looks at how Shakespeare has been interpreted from all parts of the political spectrum. It ends with what can only be but a brief overview of Shakespeare's influence in other arts, from portraiture to opera.

The book is not without its problems - the odd glib remark or contradiction - but these are few and far between. All in all this is useful tome to have on the shelf for reference, and will probably be my first port of call when needing to gen up on a particular play prior to seeing it at the theatre.
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28 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars As glossy and colourful as Disneyworld, 5 July 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Essential Shakespeare Handbook (Paperback)
This is a very American sort of Shakespeare reference work, i.e. it isn't about conveying real knowledge, just about creating a general feel-good, affirmatory sort of effect. It states all kinds of half-proved hypotheses as though they were established facts, and uses all sorts of dubious pictures without distinguishing the ones that have any authority as evidence from the ones that just happened to be cheap to reproduce. It's fun to flick through and will suit American high-school teachers fairly well, but if you actually want to know about the subject you want a proper grown-up reference book like the Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (which is just as easy to read, and often has better pictures) or the Blackwell Companion to Shakespeare.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Guide for Shakespeare Explorers, 29 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Essential Shakespeare Handbook (Paperback)
This is a great starter book for anyone who wants to know Shakespeare's work better. There is no substitute for studying the texts themselves but this book provides background and an overview of all the individual works and the collections (Comedies, Tragedies, ...) that makes the texts more immediately accessible and also provides a valuable reference point when you need a reminder about a character or direction of the plot, soi it is exactly what it says on the cover - an Essential Shakespeare Handbook.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good for getting a reasonable overview of the plots, 28 July 2013
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This review is from: Essential Shakespeare Handbook (Paperback)
This book is just what one expects from Dorling Kindersley. Very high quality production and very easy to read. It does not pretend to be an academic textbook but it provides a very good synopsis of the plot and other interesting aspects of each play and it sets each of them in the context of Shakespeare's career. Definitely enhances ones enjoyment of the plays and interesting to read both before and after going to the play.
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Essential Shakespeare Handbook
Essential Shakespeare Handbook by Alan Riding (Paperback - 1 April 2004)
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