100 books like The Image of Ivan the Terrible in Russian Folklore

By Maureen Perrie,

Here are 100 books that The Image of Ivan the Terrible in Russian Folklore fans have personally recommended if you like The Image of Ivan the Terrible in Russian Folklore. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Nero-Antichrist: Founding and Fashioning a Paradigm

Sarah Covington Author Of The Devil from Over the Sea: Remembering and Forgetting Oliver Cromwell in Ireland

From my list on history’s villains and their surprising reputations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a professor of history at the Graduate Center and Queens College at the City University of New York, where I'm also director of the Irish Studies program and the MA program in Biography and Memoir. My specialty, covered in five books that I’ve authored or co-edited, is English and Irish history in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; my new book represents the culmination of a decade’s research devoted to Ireland. In addition to teaching British and Irish history, I offer more unusual and wide-ranging classes including the history of the devil, the history of crime and punishment, and the history of the body. My life is divided between New York City and mid-coast Maine.

Sarah's book list on history’s villains and their surprising reputations

Sarah Covington Why did Sarah love this book?

I was always interested in how the emperor Nero was associated from antiquity onwards with the Antichrist: the world-destroying and tyrannical son of Satan who would prevail until the final victory of God. Only Judas matched him as a villain in the Christian imagination. Malik traces the Nero-Antichrist “paradigm” across centuries, exploring the ways in which Christians viewed Nero as an arch-fiend, the beast in the Book of Revelation, and a figure of evil who tested their mettle and faith. While recent scholars have softened the traditional picture of Nero, his afterlife continues to wield its menacing power, based in no small part on these Christian traditions.

By Shushma Malik,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Nero-Antichrist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It has traditionally been assumed that biblical writers considered Nero to be the Antichrist.. This book refutes that view. Beginning by challenging the assumption that literary representations of Nero as tyrant would have been easily recognisable to those in the eastern Roman empire, where most Christian populations were located, Shushma Malik then deconstructs the associations often identified by scholars between Nero and the Antichrist in the New Testament. Instead, she demonstrates that the Nero-Antichrist paradigm was a product of late antiquity. Using now firmly established traits and themes from classical historiography, late-antique Christians used Nero as a means with which…


Book cover of King John (Mis)Remembered

Sarah Covington Author Of The Devil from Over the Sea: Remembering and Forgetting Oliver Cromwell in Ireland

From my list on history’s villains and their surprising reputations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a professor of history at the Graduate Center and Queens College at the City University of New York, where I'm also director of the Irish Studies program and the MA program in Biography and Memoir. My specialty, covered in five books that I’ve authored or co-edited, is English and Irish history in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; my new book represents the culmination of a decade’s research devoted to Ireland. In addition to teaching British and Irish history, I offer more unusual and wide-ranging classes including the history of the devil, the history of crime and punishment, and the history of the body. My life is divided between New York City and mid-coast Maine.

Sarah's book list on history’s villains and their surprising reputations

Sarah Covington Why did Sarah love this book?

Like Nero, King John’s awful reputation has been subject to revision in recent years, though others insist that his “lechery and treachery,” not to mention his cruelty, still places him as England’s worst king. John’s image was rehabilitated in the sixteenth century, however, when the king, in Djordevic’s words, became a “virtual obsession” among writers, dramatists, and contemporary historians.  Shakespeare created a tragic John seeking to defend his crown from rival claimants, foreign invasion, and an intrusive pope, while Protestant writers displayed an even more favorable stance towards John, who had opposed an intrusive papacy. John-as-tyrant was a crowd-pleaser, however, which accounted for the production of plays and poems that continued the traditional portraits of the mad, bad king.   

By Igor Djordjevic,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked King John (Mis)Remembered as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

King John's evil reputation has outlasted and proved more enduring than that of Richard III, whose notoriety seemed ensured thanks to Shakespeare's portrayal of him. The paradox is even greater when we realize that this portrait of John endures despite Shakespeare's portrait of him in the play King John, where he hardly comes off as a villain at all. Here Igor Djordjevic argues that the story of John's transformation in cultural memory has never been told completely, perhaps because the crucial moment in John's change back to villainy is a literary one: it occurs at the point when the 'historiographic'…


Book cover of The Man Who Thought He Was Napoleon: Toward a Political History of Madness

Sarah Covington Author Of The Devil from Over the Sea: Remembering and Forgetting Oliver Cromwell in Ireland

From my list on history’s villains and their surprising reputations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a professor of history at the Graduate Center and Queens College at the City University of New York, where I'm also director of the Irish Studies program and the MA program in Biography and Memoir. My specialty, covered in five books that I’ve authored or co-edited, is English and Irish history in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; my new book represents the culmination of a decade’s research devoted to Ireland. In addition to teaching British and Irish history, I offer more unusual and wide-ranging classes including the history of the devil, the history of crime and punishment, and the history of the body. My life is divided between New York City and mid-coast Maine.

Sarah's book list on history’s villains and their surprising reputations

Sarah Covington Why did Sarah love this book?

The 1840 burial of Napoleon’s remains in the Invalides coincided with the psychiatric admission of fourteen men who claimed they were the real Napoleon, and he lived on yet. A number of Napoleons—or those claiming to be Napoleon’s son—had also emerged during the emperor’s own lifetime, suffering from the recently identified “delusions of grandeur” diagnosis.

Murat offers a larger study of madness and asylums in nineteenth-century France, and the impact of political events, including the French Revolution and the Terror, on psychiatric patients and doctors. Her chapter on “madhouse Napoleons” is particularly intriguing, as it reveals how the ghosts of powerful historical leaders can infiltrate the minds of the disturbed. For me, the book also raises questions about memory and psychology more generally, about why the mad latched onto Napoleon specifically, and how history or historical figures can live on in surprising places.

By Laure Murat, Deke Dusinberre (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Man Who Thought He Was Napoleon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Man who thought he was Napoleon is built around a bizarre historical event and an off-hand challenge. The event? In December 1840, nearly twenty years after his death, the remains of Napoleon were returned to Paris for burial - and the next day, the director of a Paris hospital for the insane admitted fourteen men who claimed to be Napoleon. The challenge, meanwhile, is the claim by great French psychiatrist Jean-Etienne Dominique Esquirol (1772-1840) that he could recount the history of France through asylum registries. From those two components, Laure Murat embarks on an exploration of the surprising relationship…


Book cover of Sherman's March in Myth and Memory

Sarah Covington Author Of The Devil from Over the Sea: Remembering and Forgetting Oliver Cromwell in Ireland

From my list on history’s villains and their surprising reputations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a professor of history at the Graduate Center and Queens College at the City University of New York, where I'm also director of the Irish Studies program and the MA program in Biography and Memoir. My specialty, covered in five books that I’ve authored or co-edited, is English and Irish history in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; my new book represents the culmination of a decade’s research devoted to Ireland. In addition to teaching British and Irish history, I offer more unusual and wide-ranging classes including the history of the devil, the history of crime and punishment, and the history of the body. My life is divided between New York City and mid-coast Maine.

Sarah's book list on history’s villains and their surprising reputations

Sarah Covington Why did Sarah love this book?

The American Civil War would produce a number of legendary figures, but William Tecumseh Sherman has long interested me for the extreme reactions he continues to provoke. Northerners would view him as a heroic if ruthless conqueror, while Southerners attributed the Confederacy’s destruction and humiliation to this uncavalier “Yankee.”

Sherman’s March in Myth and History traces the mythmaking of Sherman by historians, poets, novelists, and filmmakers, but it also goes deeper in its exploration of how myths and memories about Sherman served to bolster present-day interests. The vilification of Sherman helped to boost the Old South aristocracy and the idea of the "Lost Cause," while northerners viewed Sherman’s march as positive evidence of a superior industrialism. Sherman himself attempted to shape his legacy through lectures and a memoir. Even so, his legacy remains deeply divisive even now, with the authors writing that “there is no conciliation in sight for the…

By Edward Caudill, Paul Ashdown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sherman's March in Myth and Memory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

General William Tecumseh Sherman's devastating "March to the Sea" in 1864 burned a swath through the cities and countryside of Georgia and into the history of the American Civil War. As they moved from Atlanta to Savannah-destroying homes, buildings, and crops; killing livestock; and consuming supplies-Sherman and the Union army ignited not only southern property, but also imaginations, in both the North and the South. By the time of the general's death in 1891, when one said "The March," no explanation was required. That remains true today.

Legends and myths about Sherman began forming during the March itself, and took…


Book cover of Thistlefoot

Avi Silver Author Of Two Dark Moons

From my list on fantasy books where siblings take center stage.

Why am I passionate about this?

As the oldest of nine kids, I can’t remember a time before I had siblings. When I was younger, I had a habit of writing protagonists who were only children—but as I finished the final book in my Sãoni Cycle trilogy, I discovered that each protagonist was processing a sibling connection! The older I get, the more curious I become about how these bonds shape and transform people, especially as they age. Speculative fiction provides countless contexts to explore notions of family. Perhaps siblings don’t have magic powers in the real world, but we might understand one another better if we did.

Avi's book list on fantasy books where siblings take center stage

Avi Silver Why did Avi love this book?

In January 2023, my partner dropped this book into my hands and said, “I’m pretty sure this book was written exactly for you.” And you know what? They were RIGHT.

This book isn’t just the Baba Yaga retelling of my dreams—it also features one of the most captivating sibling relationships I’ve ever read. Bellatine and Isaac Yaga are beautifully complicated characters, each unable to stop hurting the other as they manage their trauma in very different ways. (Hint: both of them involve very cool magic.)

I spent the book desperately wanting each of them to reach one another, and was gifted with a good, cathartic cry about intergenerational wounds. This story goes places that have challenged and transformed my own writing. Plus, a sentient house with a spicy attitude? Yes. More of that.

By GennaRose Nethercott,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Thistlefoot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the tradition of modern fairy tales like Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Naomi Novik's Spinning Silver comes an immersive fantasy saga, a debut novel about estranged siblings who are reunited after receiving a mysterious inheritance.

“A wonderfully imaginative, wholly enchanting novel of witness, survival, memory, and family that reads like a fairy tale godfathered by Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton in a wild America alive with wonders and devils alike. Thistlefoot shimmers with magic and mayhem and a thrilling emotional momentum.” —Libba Bray, bestselling author of The Diviners

The Yaga siblings—Bellatine, a young woodworker, and Isaac, a wayfaring street…


Book cover of Russka: The Novel of Russia

Ken Czech Author Of The Tsar's Locket

From my list on the triumphs and tragedies of Russia's Romanovs.

Why am I passionate about this?

The Romanov saga has intrigued me since I was an undergraduate student in history many moons ago. Three hundred years of Romanov rule were filled with exotic beauty, violence, and tragedy. I went on to teach Russian history at university and was able to share some of the stories of the tsars and tsarinas with my students. Having authored books and articles in my academic field, my teaching career has ended. Now it is historical fiction that has captured my imagination and spurred me to pen my own novels set in 19th-century Africa and Afghanistan, as well as Russia during the reign of Ivan the Terrible.

Ken's book list on the triumphs and tragedies of Russia's Romanovs

Ken Czech Why did Ken love this book?

Rutherford's Russka was the first novel about Russia that I read nearly thirty years ago, and its descriptions and plotting still resonates. Through the lens of four families divided by ethnicity, the book sweeps the reader from Russia's Slavic origins to the Bolshevik Revolution. The chapter in which Tsar Ivan the Terrible plays a major role is especially riveting. What impressed me the most was how the author crafted a story of Russian rule and culture spanning 1,800 years and its impact on the characters. 

By Edward Rutherfurd,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Russka as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this vast and gorgeous tapestry of a novel, serf and master, Cossack and tsar, priest and Jew are brought together in a family saga which unrolls through centuries of history to reveal that most impenetrable and mysterious of lands - Russia. Through the life of a little town east of Moscow in the Russian heartland, Edward Rutherfurd creates a sweeping family saga from the baffling contradictions of Russia's culture and her peoples - bleak yet exotic, brutal but romantic, land of ritual yet riddled with superstitious fears. From Russia's dawn and the cruel Tatar invasions to Ivan the Terrible…


Book cover of The Ringed Castle

C. P. Lesley Author Of The Golden Lynx

From my list on the 16th century that don’t involve Tudors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with Russian history as a college sophomore, when I realized the place was like a movie series, all drama and extremes. I completed a doctorate at Stanford in early modern Russia and later published The Domostroi: Rules for Russian Households in the Time of Ivan the Terrible. Because so few people in the West know about the contemporaries of the Tudors and Borgias, I set out to write a set of novels, published under a pseudonym, aimed at a general audience, and set in sixteenth-century Russia. I interview authors for the New Books Network, where I favor well-written books set in unfamiliar times and places.

C. P.'s book list on the 16th century that don’t involve Tudors

C. P. Lesley Why did C. P. love this book?

This book was my introduction to Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. I picked it up at a library sale and was immediately caught up in its portrayal of Francis Crawford, a Scottish adventurer who ends up at the court of Ivan the Terrible. Based loosely on the diary of Sir Jerome Horsey, it represents an older understanding of how Muscovite Russia operated, but it’s a great adventure told with vivid details and remarkable characters, still my favorite among the six books in this series.

By Dorothy Dunnett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ringed Castle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the first time Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles are available in the United States in quality paperback editions.

Fifth in the legendary Lymond Chronicles, The Ringed Castle leaps from Mary Tudor's England to the barbaric Russia of Ivan the Terrible. Francis Crawford of Lymond moves to Muscovy, where he becomes advisor and general to the half-mad tsar. Yet even as Lymond tries to civilize a court that is still frozen in the attitudes of the Middle Ages, forces in England conspire to enlist this infinitely useful man in their own schemes.


Book cover of Ukraine's Unnamed War: Before the Russian Invasion of 2022

Geoffrey Roberts Author Of Stalin's Library: A Dictator and his Books

From my list on the history of the Russo-Ukrainian war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an award-winning historian, biographer, and political commentator. As a specialist in Soviet history, my books have been translated into many languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, Finnish, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.

Geoffrey's book list on the history of the Russo-Ukrainian war

Geoffrey Roberts Why did Geoffrey love this book?

Political scientists Arel and Driscoll deal with the period between the Maidan revolt of 2014 and the 2022 invasion.

They point out that the Maidan events provoked a three-way split in Ukraine between pro-Western Ukrainians, pro-Russia Ukrainians, and those in the middle who wanted neither to join the Russian Federation nor to distance themselves from it. Most of these neutrals remained loyal to the Ukrainian nationalist government in Kyiv and continued to do so after the Russian invasion in February 2022.

By Dominique Arel, Jesse Driscoll,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ukraine's Unnamed War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has its roots in the events of 2013-2014. Russia cynically termed the seditionist conflict in Crimea and Eastern Donbas a 'civil war' in order to claim non-involvement. This flies in the face of evidence, but the authors argue that the social science literature on civil wars can be used help understand why no political solution was found between 2015 and 2022. The book explains how Russia, after seizing Crimea, was reacting to events it could not control and sent troops only to areas of Ukraine where it knew it would face little resistance…


Book cover of A Short History of Russia: How the World's Largest Country Invented Itself, from the Pagans to Putin

Ursula Wong Author Of Amber Wolf

From my list on books that changed my perspective on Eastern Europe and Russia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write about Eastern Europe, both past and present, and what it means to have Russia as a neighbor. I write historical fiction and historical thrillers with a soupcon of espionage. I talk about the politics of the day, whether the story is set during WWII or in modern times. While my stories and characters are fictional, I constantly strive to accurately reflect time, place, and, most of all, history. I hope that my novels entertain and inform about a corner of the world folks may not know much about. 

Ursula's book list on books that changed my perspective on Eastern Europe and Russia

Ursula Wong Why did Ursula love this book?

From the Kiev of ancient Rus’ to today, Mark Galeotti has stuffed the history of Russia into one jaw-dropping book of just over 200 pages. I loved the book because it was concise, informative, and cleared up misconceptions we may have about Russia.

Mr. Galeotti’s book provides a thoughtful perspective in an overview that brings context to today’s Russia. He claims he’s debunking myths. Were the Mongol invasions truly devastating? He offers stories we may not have heard. How did Catherine the Great really come to power? He challenges us to examine why the Russian people tolerate a man like Putin, but will we ever know for certain?

By Mark Galeotti,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Short History of Russia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Fascinating... One of the most astute political commentators on Putin and modern Russia' Financial Times

'An amazing achievement' Peter Frankopan

Can anyone truly understand Russia?

Russia is a country with no natural borders, no single ethos, no true central identity. At the crossroads of Europe and Asia, it is everyone's 'other'. And yet it is one of the most powerful nations on earth, a master game-player on the global stage with a rich history of war and peace, poets and revolutionaries.

In this essential whistle-stop tour of the world's most complex nation, Mark Galeotti takes us behind the myths to…


Book cover of Children of Rus': Right-Bank Ukraine and the Invention of a Russian Nation

Fabian Baumann Author Of Dynasty Divided: A Family History of Russian and Ukrainian Nationalism

From my list on the long prehistory of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Why am I passionate about this?

It was through learning Russian in my Swiss high school that I first got interested in the history of Eastern Europe. When I became fascinated by the theory of nationalism during my university studies, my geographical focus shifted to Ukraine, a society whose aspiration to nationhood has been repeatedly been contested by the neighboring great powers. For my first book, I researched the history of a fascinating nationally bifurcated family whose members have left archival traces from Moscow to Liubljana and from Kyiv to Stanford. I hold a BA degree from the University of Geneva, an MPhil from the University of Oxford, and a PhD from the University of Basel.

Fabian's book list on the long prehistory of Russia’s war against Ukraine

Fabian Baumann Why did Fabian love this book?

This was one of the first books that got me interested in the history of nineteenth-century Kyiv. Freshly published when I began my graduate studies, Faith Hillis’s book is detailed micro-history of local politics in the Ukrainian capital from the early nineteenth century to the revolution of 1905.

In particular, Hillis recounts the rise of a local Russian nationalist movement and does a great job at explaining why the city – and all of Ukraine – came to occupy such a central place in the political imagination of Russian imperialists and nationalists. And several members of the Shul’gin family – the protagonists of my own book – also make an appearance!

By Faith Hillis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Children of Rus' as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Children of Rus', Faith Hillis recovers an all but forgotten chapter in the history of the tsarist empire and its southwestern borderlands. The right bank, or west side, of the Dnieper River-which today is located at the heart of the independent state of Ukraine-was one of the Russian empire's last territorial acquisitions, annexed only in the late eighteenth century. Yet over the course of the long nineteenth century, this newly acquired region nearly a thousand miles from Moscow and St. Petersburg generated a powerful Russian nationalist movement. Claiming to restore the ancient customs of the East Slavs, the southwest's…


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