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Baillie Gifford 'Winner of Winners' James Shapiro for The Playbook

Wednesday 12th June

Topping & Company Booksellers of Bath, York Street, Bath, Somerset BA1 1NG
Doors Open
Start Time
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James Shapiro, who teaches English at Columbia University in New York, is author of several books, including 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (winner of the BBC4 Samuel Johnson Prize in 2006), as well as Shakespeare in a Divided America.

Now, from the 'Winner of Winners' of the Baillie Gifford Prize, a timely and dramatic story of a utopian American experiment, and the self-serving politicians that engineered its downfall.

1935. Franklin D. Roosevelt is under pressure to combat the skyrocketing levels of unemployment in
post-war America. He announces a sweeping range of revolutionary initiatives, known collectively as
the New Deal. Among these initiatives is a landmark programme designed to bring innovative,
experimental theatre to the American masses.

The Federal Theatre Project staged critically acclaimed and wildly popular productions across
America - including Orson Welles' directorial debut, a landmark early modern dance programme, and shows that sought to tell the truth about racism, poverty and the rising tides of fascism.

1938. An opportunistic Texas congressman, head of the newly formed House Un-American
Committee, targets the Federal Theatre Project, enflaming rising tension about communism and
creating a new political playbook based on sensationalism, misinformation and fear - a playbook that has proved instrumental in today's Culture Wars.

From one of the world's great storytellers, Playbook is an invigorating re-enactment of a terrifyingly
prescient moment in 20th-century American cultural history, the dimensions of which echo through
every democracy today.