In Ivan the Terrible: Free to Reward and Free to Punish
(University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019, Dr. Charles Halperin
provides a new analysis of Ivan’s reign, as well as valuable syntheses of previous scholarship on one of Russian’s most infamous rulers. Halperin argues that we should move beyond old questions about Ivan’s sanity. Instead, we should reject the notion of Russian “exceptionalism,” place Ivan in comparative context, and evaluate his reign with the recognition that Ivan’s problems were often similar to those faced by contemporary monarchs. With careful attention to evidence and detail, Halperin’s Ivan IV emerges as a ruler at once less—and more—mysterious than in previous treatments of this subject.
Aaron Weinacht is Professor of History at the University of Montana Western, in Dillon, MT. He teaches courses on Russian and Soviet History, World History, and Philosophy of History. His research interests include the sociological theorist Philip Rieff and the influence of Russian nihilism on American libertarianism.