This will be the first of several reviews I will post over the next few weeks of this book. This review comments only on the essays by Professor Nelson and Dr. Edmondson, and should be regarded more a preliminary comment than a completed review.
The essays included in this volume by Professor Nelson and the Dr. Reverend Edmondson read as if written for a not-very-bright third-grader who had yet to be told by his older brother that some people have legitimately questioned the identity of Shakespeare. Their methodology might perhaps best be compared to the modern critic of Simon and Garfunkle's "Homeward bound" who concluded that the line "my love lies silently waiting for me" was evidence of that the folk duo must have held the politically incorrect view that women should be seen but not heard. This, at any rate, is an apt summary of the procedure employed by Dr. Nelson in his chapter on the Earl of Oxford. Rarely have so many swerves in the road yielded such a harvest of irrelevant viewings of unimpressive intellectual scenery or provoked quite so many irritating reminders of the cost of the volume that contains it - not merely in dollars and pounds but also in the "expense of spirit" and "waste of shame" that went into producing it.
For there is no doubt much good sense here if it can be found out in such an unwholesome packaging as that given the volume by the Reverend Edmondson, who starts by assuring us - as if this had anything to do with anything beyond the reverend's own over-great sense of self-importance,that "Shakespeare has enemies" who want to "kill" Shakespeare, and it is surely a pity that those comprising the fine assemblage of academic knowledge and skill gathered in this book should each and every one be constrained to march in step with such anti-intellectual dogmas, whether those of the editors or Professor Nelson's own. Of the latter it must be noted that the editors presumably rely with an implicit if undeserved confidence in his critical acumen, at least assuming we define the term "critical acumen" in relation to its presumed fiduciary concomitant to pursue the truth even when it contradicts the un-examined and untested beliefs of the investigator, let alone a powerful majority, with as much need to placate as to be placated.
For these reasons alone, and in consideration of the preposterous title, and not counting many more reasons(and in greater detail) to follow, I cannot recommend this book and instead suggest Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? -- Exposing an Industry in Denial