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.
"A portrait of Ivan the Terrible as a figure of high tragedy rather than a madman or a villain. [A] lively.... biography of one of the most paradoxical and terrifying figures in Russian history."
— The New York Times
"The most objective and comprehensive analysis of Ivan which has ever appeared in English.... A fresh interpretation.... With this book, we gain a deeper understanding of the complex man who engineered simultaneously such powerful forces of both creativity and destruction."
— History Book Club News
Posted by Owen M. on 24th Jan 2015
Very through but not pedantic. Really tells a good story. Oddly enough helps to understand Russia today as some of the threads from Ivan's rule still continue.
Posted by Sandy D. on 11th Aug 2014
A must read for anybody who wants to understand or predict current events in Russia . The book is an easy read that pictures an accurate image of who the Russians are and what they believe in . Ivan the IV was like a mighty , thundering water fall . A personage that never found peace nor contempt. Never fount that balance in his personal life. I guess he was not much worse than any other monarch in his or any other time. They all wanted more power and more land, or... just tried to hold on to what they had and intimidate the competition in the neighboring lands ? To me this question is what makes history so interesting.
Posted by Roderick M. on 8th Aug 2014
Mr. Bobrick has a great writing style that makes the book an easy read. At the same time the book is repleat with abundant information and facts about early Russian government, economics, and social problems. Orthodox Christians will enjoy the details Mr. Bobrick provides about the evolution of the Church within the Russian Empire of the 14th century, its political endeavors and impact on the Tsar. The book also provides great detail as to the growth of Baltic trade and its development within Russia and the failure of an emergent mercantile class as was happening at the same time in Western Europe. All in all a very good book, particularly for those with an interest in modern Russian political development.