by Bill Bryson
William Shakespeare, the most celebrated poet in the English language, left behind nearly a million words of text, but his biography has long been a thicket of supposition arranged around scant facts. With his trademark wit, Bill Bryson sorts through this colorful muddle to reveal the man himself. Bryson documents the efforts of earlier scholars, and, emulating the style of his travelogues, records episodes in his own research. He celebrates Shakespeare as a writer of unimaginable talent and enormous inventiveness, a coiner of phrases (vanish into thin air, foregone conclusion, one fell swoop) that even today have common currency. His Shakespeare is like no one else's--the beneficiary of Bryson's genial nature, his engaging skepticism, and an unrivaled gift for storytelling.