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Fearful Majesty: The Life and Reign of Ivan…
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Fearful Majesty: The Life and Reign of Ivan the Terrible

by Benson Bobrick

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No wonder his dynasty died out; that's what happens when you beat your heir to death. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
This Russian ruler always freaked me out, probably because of the Eisenstein epic movie. He didn't receive the moniker of 'Terrible' by being a nice next-door neighbour, but I think the author does an excellent job of expanding the overall personality of Ivan. After all, the Russian Empire really started with him, as he started consolidating all the different geographic pieces. He was a true Renaissance prince and ranks up there with Louix XI and Henry VII.

The Russian character comes through strongly also, which is refreshing. Overall, the tome is well-written and a good read when a terrible gale is a-blowin'.


Book Season = Winter ( )
  Gold_Gato | Sep 16, 2013 |
An older but excellent book on the life of Ivan the terrible. Peter the Great and later tsars did terrible things too but Ivan got the label. It is well deserved. The difficulty with Ivan IV is that actual records are sparse. A serious academic history which sticks to the facts is Ivan the Terrible by S. F Platonov (see my review). The main point of contention with Ivan is whether or not he was seriously mentally disturbed or just bad. Histories of him tend to see the pathology but as Platonov points out, he retained his intellectual powers till near to the end of his life. So it is a puzzle.
If you like historical fiction you will probably enjoy this book though it is not a novel. ( )
  bhowell | Feb 23, 2008 |
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In 1533 Vasily III, grand prince of Muscovy and the father of Ivan IV ("the Terrible"), Russia's first tsar, was in his fifty-fourth year (and the twenty-eighth of his reign) when his life was cut short.
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Ivan the Terrible - the name evokes the legend of a cruel and dangerously insane tyrant. Fearful Majesty explores that legend and exposes the man, his nature, and his time. This acclaimed biography of one of Russia's most important and tyrannical rulers is not only a rich, readable biography, it is also surprisingly timely, revealing how many of the issues Russia faces today have their roots in Ivan's reign. Ivan IV oversaw huge conquests of neighboring lands, the creation of a national church, and Russia's emergence as a world power. Arrogant, handsome, a gifted orator and theologian, Ivan was well educated but cruel, profoundly egotistical yet cowardly, scarred by childhood terrors. He was also the Russian ruler whose policies first cast Russia in the role of "Evil Empire" to the West. Throughout his reign, Ivan's unbalanced genius erupted in a tyranny so violent that it threatened to destroy his bloodline, his court, his church, his country.… (more)

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