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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Sunday, 31 August 2014

"Boris Godunov" by Ian Grey

This is a narrative biography of Boris Godunov, first minister to Ivan the Terrible and his son Feodor, who was then elected tsar (1598 - 1605) when the Rurikid dynasty came to an end, and was toppled by the first False Dmitri at the start of the Time of Troubles.

This is history as narrative. The tale is very simply told. Many of the principal events have been turned into legend and shrouded in mystery:
Ivan the Terrible kills his eldest son; Boris is badly wounded trying to protect the tsarevich
Feodor's brother Dmitry dies, having stabbed himself during an epileptic seizure or was he assassinated on the orders of Boris or did he escape?
Was the false Dmitry really Dmitry or an ex-monk called Grigory?
Did Boris die naturally or was he poisoned by his enemies?
Nevertheless, Grey gives them a little consideration and then plumps for the common sense explanation.

So this is biography as it used to be and it seems rather bald. Most of it is about Ivan the Terrible and the reign of Feodor and although you can argue that Boris was chief minister during both of these reigns and therefore a very important person, there isn't much actually about him. Less than a third of the book is spent on Boris's reign. I rather felt that Grey wasted an opportunity.

August 2014; 179 pages; nice, short chapters

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