Friday book # 28: Ivan the Terrible

Most of the Russian history I read concerns the period from the mid-19th century onwards, but occasionally I look a bit further back in time, as seen by this week’s book: a biography of Tsar Ivan the Terrible.

ivanterrible

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5 thoughts on “Friday book # 28: Ivan the Terrible”

    1. The author is not an academic, and the publisher (Canongate) isn’t an academic publisher, meaning that it needed to sell copies to the general public. So this probably isn’t the thing to read if you’re looking for a nuanced, scholarly depiction of Ivan. The cover blurb reads: ‘Tsar Ivan IV will be remembered as a cruel and unbalanced genius … He unleashed a tyranny so violent that it threatened to destroy his bloodline, his court, his Church, his country. His was a reign of paradox, of rage and pride – of fearful majesty’.

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      1. I think Chen Yun’s famous comments on Mao would also fit Ivan Grozny very well: “Had Mao died in 1956, his achievements would have been immortal. Had he died in 1966, he would still have been a great man. But he died in 1976” (swap dates for 1564, 1574, and 1584)

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  1. Frankly don’t see much difference with english language academic works =)

    Is it the same book as “Fearful Majesty” by Bobrick? If it is than I’ve read it few months back. Sodomy, fancy tales by shady german characters pretending to be oprichniks and noble queen Elizabeth (who’s reign was accompanied by fair share of terror as well if we want to be honest) having to deal with cruel and irrational Mongolian barbarian.

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    1. I suspect it is the same book, as the publication date is the same (1987), and I doubt Bobrick wrote two different books on the same subject at the same time. This is the UK edition, so it may have had a slightly different title than the North American version.

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