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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. 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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