Monday, November 23, 2015

Review: Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard

Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard by Laura Bates
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If this book were fiction you'd call the premise far-fetched: impossible that an uneducated criminal, behind bars since the age of seventeen and serving a life sentence for murder, would become an authority on Shakespeare. How could he probe the language to understand the motivations and justifications of Macbeth, Hamlet, Richard the Third, and others and compare them to himself and others?

Laura Bates, the innovative professor who designs the Shakespeare curriculum for her in-prison classes, has written a memoir of her ten years behind bars. Among the many incarcerated students is Larry Newton. The reader has to wonder at his intellect and what he might have achieved outside the concrete walls of the Indiana prison system.

Not only is this a wonderful story, it demonstrates the power of education to reach the hearts and souls of so many. Bates ultimately uses the knowledge she gained in prison to educate her students who wish to become teachers. It is a powerful book and a testament not to Shakespeare as much as it is to one prisoner's motivation to understand himself and others. Highly recommended.

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