A Thousand Times More Fair: What Shakespeare's Plays Teach Us About Justice

Kenji Yoshino, Author
Kenji Yoshino, Ecco, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-176910-8
Reviewed on: 02/07/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-06-208772-0
Paperback - 305 pages - 978-0-06-176912-2
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Yoshino, a constitutional law professor at NYU, looks at the concepts of justice in Shakespeare's major plays as they relate to the role of law in modern society and to particular events in today's world. Perhaps for the shock value alone, he begins with the horrifically violent Titus Andronicus, a play driven by an ever-widening circle of revenge. After contemplating the meaning of revenge, Yoshino surprises, as he often does, by arguing that America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are wars of revenge. As another example, he mines Measure for Measure for thoughts on the qualifications judges need and applies those ideas to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings, which were a debate on "a timeless conflict between alternate visions of judging." Yoshino uses Hamlet to examine the danger of ideas unlimited by pragmatism; Lear to explore the limitations of law; The Tempest for self-restraint in governance—all to frame his views of fundamental questions of jurisprudence. It is a happy marriage between two enduring intellectual endeavors: understanding Shakespeare and understanding our explicit and implicit notions of justice. Readers will find Yoshino provocative, often controversial, and Shakespeare, as always, entertaining. (Apr.)
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