Book Review: History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers

by Scott Rank

History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers, Scott Rank, Regnery History

Can the insane rule? Can insanity be a leadership quality? The author takes a fascinating look at nine of history’s most notorious rulers. While reading History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers you will meet:

  • King Charles VI of France, who thought he was made of glass
  • Emperor Caligula, who build temples to himself made his horse a senator, and marched his armies all the way to Britain for no reason
  • The Russian tsar who became know as Ivan “the Terrible”
  • King George III of Britain, who not only lost his American colonies, but also lost his mind
  • Bavaria’s “Mad” King Ludwig II, who left the world richer for his fabulous fairy-tale castles built in the late 1800s, long after castles had gone out of style. He had imaginary friends and loved to take dangerously high-speed, midnight sleigh rides through the Alps, even in blizzards

This book is both entertaining and illuminating and is a read for anyone who is interested in the role insanity played in history. This book presents the word’s most unbelievably deranged leaders and their all-consuming addiction to power.

You will also gain insight into North Korean Communist dictator Kim Jong-il and Saddam Hussein as the author gives intimate details of these deeply flawed but powerful men, as he examines the role that madness played in their lives, the repercussions of their madness on history, and what their madness can tell us about the times in which they lived.

Excerpt:”…being mad was perhaps the most appropriate way to rule in mad times”-page xix

Rulers who mad “mad” by our definition could actually have been responding in the most reasonable way in their circumstances. They faced challenges that are unimaginable today. Ivan the Terrible killed thousands of his own subjects, but he did so (by is own reasoning) to secure the Russian Empire against external threats….Caligula behaved horribly toward the Roman Senate and aristocracy, but it could have been a calculated attempt to demean them and weaken their power….From their perspectives, being mad was perhaps the most appropriate way to rule in mad times. With these questions in mind, let us look at the nine most insane rulers in history.

About the Author: Scott Rank is the author of 12 books including the Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages, Lost Civilizations, and Off the Edge of the Map: Travelers and Explorers that Pushed the Boundaries of the Unknown World. His books have been translated into nine languages. Rank is a historian of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey, and he is a professor and podcaster. He earned his Ph.D. in history from Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. Before going down the academic route, he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. Rank is the host of the podcast, History Unplugged.

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