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This is a short but often fascinating and carefully documented life of the supreme autocrat of Russia from 1530 to 1584. During that period he set the mold for subsequent governments in Russia:-the secret police, the periodic purge of top government officials, the forced confessions of political crime, the constant specter of treason, mass exile, sealing of borders to foreigners -- all these practices were gathering force in the time of Ivan the Great, grandfather of Ivan the Terrible. But it was the second Ivan's paranoiac power that imprinted them indelibly on the Russia he claimed as his under his title Czar of all the Russias. Orphaned before nine, he began early his lifelong fight with the boyars, the noblemen he claimed insulted and accused him as a child. He established the civil guard and secret police, drawn from the lowest classes, to harry the nobles. He carried out successful warfare against the remnant of the Tartars- and was less successful in attempting to extend his hegemony towards the West. This book, while not inspired in writing, presents a balanced account of Ivan the Terrible, whom he considers more genius than madman. He documents his account with quotations from contemporary diaries and letters. While England under Bloody Mary and Henry VIII, and France scarred by the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, were contemporary happenings infinitely less barbarous than the blood and terror of Russia's Oriental despotism untempered by any segment of enlightened Christianity. A fascinating record to be read both for itself and for the light it throws on the terror of the Revolution and the regime of Stalin.

Publisher: Hill & Wang