From the year 1788, when he triumphed on the Berlin stage with his Misanthropy and Remorse, to 1819, when a student terrorist stabbed him to death for his "unpatriotic" political views, Kotzebue reigned supreme over the German and Austrian theater, and pervaded theaters throughout the world. Goethe, who both admired and despised the Weimar-born writer, produced his plays more often than those of any other author, living or dead. Some fifty of his plays were eagerly translated and performed in Great Britain and the United States. His influence on nineteenth-century stagecraft was far-reaching.Today he is still a familiar figure to every student of German literature and history. In the English-speaking world, however, the erstwhile darling of the theater has been practically forgotten. The critical literature about him in our language is negligible. But this void is now ideally filled by Mandel's volume. He has translated into fluent, performable English (with very useful notes) the comedy that is generally regarded as Kotzebue's masterpiece. In addition, the first half of his book is devoted to a thoroughgoing critical and biographical introduction. Without seeking to rehabilitate Kotzebue's vast output in the sentimental and melodramatic genres, Mandel argues that he created the final important neoclassical comedy in a long-lived tradition extending from Machiavelli through Moliere, Goldoni, Sheridan, and ending, on a note of anti-Romantic bravado, with himself. Mandel supports his argument with the most tangible evidence: the droll play itself.