Ken Adelman is currently vice-president of Movers and Shakespeares, which conducts executive training through leadership lessons from Shakespeare. Ambassador Adelman began teaching Shakespeare in 1977 at Georgetown University, and later with honors students at George Washington University.
During the Reagan Administration, Ken Adelman was an Ambassador to the United Nations and then Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, accompanying President Reagan on his superpower summits with Mikhail Gorbachev.
Adelman was a philosophy major at Grinnell College and then attended Georgetown University, where he received a Masters in Foreign Service Studies and Doctorate in Political Theory.
He is the author of five books -- including co-author of Shakespeare in Charge -- and hundreds of articles, was for 20 years national editor of Washingtonian magazine, and for six years a member of the Defense Policy Board.
While living in Africa from 1972 to 1975, Adelman translated for Mohammed Ali during “The Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight championship fight in Zaire, and participated in the Zaire River Expedition, venturing down the Congo River on the 100th Anniversary of Stanley’s exploration.
Ken Adelman: I’m Jewish, and was raised Jewish. And I don’t consider myself, you know, a temple-goer very often because I find it very boring, to tell you the truth. But then when you are in nature – when you’re hiking in the great outdoors in Colorado, which we do a lot – you just feel that, “Oh my gosh. This is so magnificent.” You feel a different dimension. And with me, it’s more when you think about back to basics. You think about how wonderful Ron Reagan was as a leader. You think about how mystical it was, and how wonderful it was that we had a Churchill come along at the time we did; and FDR come along when he did. I read about six books on Lincoln over the last year. I have two full shelves on Lincoln. I think, “My gosh! Where did this come from?” And then comes . . . To me the ultimate is, of course, Shakespeare. How could somebody, you know, who had a seventh grade education give us the greatest works that I think the human mind has ever come up with? And there just cannot be human mind that produced this. There has to be something else.
Just to give you one fact, in 1599, Shakespeare wrote . . . or probably finished, but wrote the bulk of Hamlet, Henry V, Julius Caesar, and As You Like It. Now come on! That’s not a human product, those four things. Any one of the four – had they done nothing else – he would be very well known in history.
Margaret Mitchell wrote one book in her life, “Gone With the Wind”. It was a hell of a book. It is a hell of a book. Shakespeare would have written eight of those four plays out of his 37 in a whole lifetime. And I would have said, “My gosh! He’s a genius! He’s fantastic.” But to crank out those four in one . . . in one year , it comes from somewhere else. It comes from somewhere else.
Recorded on: 7/2/07