DIMITRY: Called the Pretender, Tsar and Great Prince of All Russia, 1605-1606 by Philip L. Barbour

DIMITRY: Called the Pretender, Tsar and Great Prince of All Russia, 1605-1606

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Out of the depth of Russian history comes this biography that might have been gripping-- but isn't. Ivan the Terrible was survived (1584) by two sons: Fyodor and Dimitry. Boris Godunov was regent for his brother-in-law Fyodor, succeeding him as Tsar when Fyodor died. Meanwhile Dimitry died in a playground accident--a stabbing which a relative interpreted as assassination. In 1603 a young man appeared in Poland claiming to be Dimitry; his survival attributed to a spiriting away of the wounded/unharmed boy, (while another was buried in his stead). The Poles, persuaded and enchanted at the pro-Roman Catholic feelings of the Pretender, backed Dimitry's invasion of Russia. Finally, helped by Boris' death (not necessarily from natural causes) Dimitry became Tsar--to be murdered most foully after a year of benign rule. While the barbaric story has never been told in English before (the publisher states) and is most worthwhile, so much has been packed into such short space that the book suffers from the limitations of a bouillon cube--a whole lot of nutrition compressed into unpalatability. Since the price includes pictures, maps, chronologies, bibliography, a list of historical figures, appendices why could the publishers not have been more generous with space, to permit dilution of the text into readability?

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 1966
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin