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A Lifelong Passion: Nicholas and Alexandra [Hardcover]

Emperor of Russia Nicholas II , consort of Nicholas II Alexandra Empress , Sergei Mironenko , Andrei Maylunas , Darya Galy
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Mar 1997
These letters, most of which are published here for the first time, offer an intimate look at some of the most momentous events of the early 1900s, including Russia's participation in World War I and the fall of the Romanov dynasty in the Bolshevik revolution. Among the correspondents are Alexandra's beloved but domineering grandmother, Queen Victoria of England, and Nicholas' cousin, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. Most poignant, though, are the letters and diaries of the last Tsar and Tsarina, which stand as eloquent expressions of one of the great love affairs of this century.

A Lifelong Passion begins in 1884 with the couple's first childhood meeting and chronicles their intense courtship and first joyful years of marriage. The Romanovs' happiness was not to last, however, as they were quickly overtaken by the forces of war and revolution. The discovery that their only son and heir Alexei was stricken with hemophilia opened the family to the formidable and perhaps malign influence of the monk Rasputin, whose gory death at the hands of two Grand Dukes is here recounted by one of the murderers. Though unshaken in their love for one another, Nicholas and Alexandra could not hold their country together, and their story ends with a chilling account of their assassination by the Bolshevik revolutionaries.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 667 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; first UK edition (Mar 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385486731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385486736
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 19.7 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 440,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Book Description

Unique, never-before-published royal letters and diaries revealing the full story of the last of the Romanovs in their own words. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

“Reads like a thriller, filled as it is with stories of plots, betrayals, and sexual intrigues” Anne Applebaum, Sunday Telegraph --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful book 31 Jan 2011
This book is a must have for every Romanov fan (strange expression perhaps, but I do not know how else to call it).
This book tells the tale of Nicolas and Alexandra with their own letters and journal fragments, along with letters of family memebers etc.
It is wonderful to 'hear' them speak about events and their family and each other in their own words.
I was sometimes really moved by what I read. This book has now a very special place amongst the other books about the Romanov family.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful one 31 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A great book about one of the greatest people of the 20th century. Many books about past events are very subjective as they are always somebody else's opinion. This book is not. It is compiled of many letters the Tsar and Traritsa wrote to each other, leaving the reader to decide about who they were. And through these letters we see a loving husband and a loving wife who sacrificed everything they had for their country. Nobody could say better about them than their own words.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Their tragedy - in their own words 19 Aug 2012
It seems that every other year, a new book about the Romanovs. Some are serious, well researched histories; some seem to twist the facts to fit the author's pet theories. Some seem to eschew the facts entirely, in favour of the wild romance of the author's own fantasies! And all this plethora give wildly varying interpretations of the personalities of the main actors in this major real-life drama - unless one is, oneself, an expert in the field, it is hard to know who to believe.

Many of the secondary protagonists have written their own accounts of the events leading up to the Russian Revolution: Grand Duke Alexander & Prince Yusupov amongst others. But all these memoirs have the disadvantage of having been written many years after the events: however honest the author is trying to be, his view is coloured by the benefit of hindsight - and many succumb to the natural instinct to present themselves in a good light, with their own actions 'the only thing that could possibly have been done'.

This book cuts through the confusion by presenting the main protagonists, and many of the minor ones IN THEIR OWN WORDS, in letters written CONTEMPORARY TO THE EVENTS THAT THEY DESCRIBE. Andrei Maylunas and Sergei Mironenko ave carried out an incredible task to search through literally thousands of letters, producing a collection that cover the life of the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, from his childhood to his final days.

Of course, an overly selective bias by the editors, could slant the interpretation of the evidence - but, here, the sheer volume of material prevents any such effect. The reader is allowed to form their own opinion from the material, with the minimum of commentary. At over 600 pages, this is certainly not a skimpy buffet, but a rich, sumptuous feast!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By sofia
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I really love this book , could spend hours reading it ,I first saw this book in a charity shop for five pounds , and was tempted to buy but looked on e bay and it was cheaper !! Lovely buy and turned up a day or so after I ordered it , well done , Amazon !!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  35 reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MASTERPIECE 14 Jan 2000
By A Customer - Published on
A Lifelong Passion is, at its heart, a magnificent love story, made all the richer because, unlike most love stories, it is rooted in absolute truth. Although the dynamics of the relationship between Nicholas and wife, Alexandra, are quite complex, there is no doubt that they adored each other and their five beautiful children. Politics aside, the heart of their life lay in the family. And this was a fmaily undivided. They shared everything: their joys, sorrows, tragedies, fears, triumphs, and ultimately, their tragic and untimely deaths.
A Lifelong Passion is not a work of fiction. The authors have meticulously researched the diaries and letters of both Nicholas and Alexandra and their children, then created a compilation that reads like a passionate thriller. We really come to know the Romanovs as well as those close to them: the brothers and sisters of Tsar Nicholas, the Dowager Empress Marie, Kaiser Wilhelm, Queen Victoria, and others.
A Lifelong Passion is also a portrait of the decline of a dynasty, seen through the eyes of those who lived it. Filled with political plots and intrigue, the book serves as a sweeping panorama of the last days of the Russian Empire. We get to know Imperial Russia "firsthand" and I found myself thoroughly engrossed.
A Lifelong Passion is a long book, yet it is never boring. The pace never slows and our desire to know more never ends. Ultimately, the book ends in a tragedy made all the greater because we have come to know the victims so very well. Whether you agree or disagree with the politics of Tsar Nicholas II, whether you like or dislike the people involved, you can't help but feel you've come to know them, and their tragic demise causes you to grieve.
This is one of the best books I've ever read. It's a love story as poignant as The Thorn Birds, as panoramic in scope as Doctor Zhivago. A timeless classic filled with history, tragedy and love. Highly recommended!
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nicholas and Alexandra - A Lifelong Passion or Obsession? 9 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on
While reading the love letters and notes Nicholas and Alexandra wrote to each other both before and throughout their marriage I couldn't help thinking how modern day psychologists would probably label their relationship "obsessive and codependent." Even so, I found this intimate glimpse into the lives of Nicholas, Alexandra, their children, relatives, friends, courtiers, civil servants and even their assassins, most enthralling. But the book is not your so-called 'page turner'. I lingered over each page and even tagged favorite parts and quotes or cross-references with Post-it notes. This is history revealed from within the very heart of the experience. So much so, I at times had the eery sense of actually being present while the words I was reading in print were first being written in longhand or punched out a letter at a time with stubby childish fingers on an early-model typewriter. Except I don't happen to believe in reincarnation. I just think this is history presented the way it should be, through the words of the people who lived it. These people expressed themselves quite well and need no theorist's interpretation of their writing or intentions. Reading this book is not unlike going off into your grandparent's attic and finding all these letters and pictures you never knew existed and losing track of time as you untie the ribbon around the bundle of love letter and discover while reading them how half your family came into being. Only in the case of Nicholas and Alexandra I had a problem with the fact I already knew what the end was and I didn't want to get to it. The people I met in this book tugged at my heart and mind so much I desperately wanted for there to have been a mistake and learn that they had in fact escaped from Ipatiev house and lived out their lives in comfortable exile on the Isle or Jersey or in the south of France. And then I had to ask myself, would I even be here reading about them if they had lived? The lives and deaths of the Romanovs affected so many people it is difficult to fathom what the impact of their remaining alive might have been. And I think it's pointless to speculate despite the fact so many people built whole lives around pretending to be survivors of that hideous execution. Much better to enjoy the memory of what they really left that was inspired and wonderful, learn from their numerous mistakes, grieve their loss and go on to reading about other aspect of history. You see, the real danger that comes of reading this book is the fact you can easily become as addicted to rereading it as Alexandra was obsessed with trying to find a cure for her son's hemophilia, or find ways to spend more time alone with her husband. Then I shudder in realizing how she did indeed get her wish in the end, though certainly not in the way she wanted to.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful. 16 May 2002
By E. Duncan - Published on
This book takes one back not just to Imperial Russia, the lost world, but it takes you into the hearts of a man and a woman so deeply in love that their passion cries from each word. It takes you into the minds of their five children: intelligent Olga, sophisticated Tatiana, sweet Maria, wild Anastasia and clear-brained Aleksey. The letters encompass everything--their first meeting between Princess Alix von Hessen and Tsarevitch Nicholas of Russia, when she was 12 and he 16. It shows the love and care they had for eachother even then. It shows how they jumped over hurdles to be together, breaking down every barrier so they could be together eternally. It shows their love and joy at their five children, who were their world. It shows their family members, concerned, sometimes angry, at their actions. It takes you back to a world where you loved and were loved, a world that was vanished in 1918 by the merciless slaughter of these people, these children, who never had a chance to live.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Faith, hope, and love 7 Jun 2000
By E. G MCCANDLESS - Published on
I have just spent two engrossing months with the Romanov family in Russia, savoring each word in this incredible collection of letters, memoirs, diaries, and other historical documents. What an amazing story, a real-life Greek tragedy, but one filled with so much hope, faith, and love! As a fan of Russian culture and history, it was easy to fall in love with this book. However, I think that it could be enjoyed by anyone who has a passion for his family, his faith, or his country. There are beautiful love letters, revealing diary entries, international secret telegrams, and chilling memoirs of murderers. This book captures almost every emotion humanly possible, and I experienced the full range while reading it. There are parts that will make you laugh out loud, cry out loud, and parts where you'll want to go back in time and warn the characters as you see them walking right into mistakes that will ultimately contribute to their downfall.
Besides Tsar Nicholas and the Tsarina Alexandra, this book details the lives of many other fascinating characters who are not as well-known. I felt a connection with Alix's older sister Ella, and I was especially attached to the sensitive KR and his constant struggles with his faith. And I felt disgust for Prince Yusopov, while at the same time understanding his desire to protect the royal family from their attraction to religious charlatans. Obviously, there is no surprise ending to this book. Still, it is gripping up to the very last page and the lives I gained insight on will be with me for a long time.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Romanov Source-Book is utterly Indespensible 14 Feb 2007
By Jesse Carnes - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I own this book, and several others centred on the lives of the Nicholas

Romanov family. In my opinion, a person's collection of primary-research volumes should begin with this book. For indeed, this book is not simply letters, notes, or personal reflections by the late Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra. It is a revelation. Many people to this day mistakenly believe that Nicholas and his sickly wife were vile and cruel people. An honest look into this book will undoubtedly change the opinions of all except the most virulent anti-Romanovs. Not only will the reader discover that Nicholas was actually a kind and benevolent leader, despite his youth, lack of training and inabilities to effectively cohere a nation spanning 11 timezones, they will discover that he was a fun, winsome, and charming person. Still, Tsar Nicholas could not effectively hold Russia together and Revolution came in the guise of V. I. Lenin and Josef Stalin's monstrously vicious and deadly regime. In all candour, the job of running Russia has remained almost insuperable in the 88.5 years since the assassination of the Imperial family.

Additionally, what the reader will discover from this book is that Tsar Nicholas was a warm and loving father to his 4 girls and 1 son, as well as an untiring devoted husband to his wife. To illustrate this, their eldest daughter Olga declined a Royal marriage proposal in order to keep the family close together as World War 1 loomed upon the scene.

What about the Objectivity of this book?

To use ACADEMIC terminology, this book has both ETICS and EMICS ( or the Outside viewpoint, and the Inside viewpoint), for there are letters, reflections and correspondence from the chldren of the family, Olga, Tatiana, Marie, the famous Anastasia, and her nearly as famous hemophiliac brother, Aleksey, as well as relatives such as KR and GrandDuchess Olga.

To add to all of this, there are others outside the family who render their candid reflections and evaluations of the Imperial family, people such as other family relatives, members of the British General staff, King George V of England, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and many others.

Lastly, from the emics viewpoint [inside perspective], the reader will discover that the old Bolshevik fabricaion that the Niki Romanov family were lasy, and cruel, and rolling in endless wealth was simply that: a blatant lie. The truth is that the Romanovs were compelled by STATE Customs to maintain SOME vestiges of Royal look and appearances. Do be aware that the monthly allowance of the Imperial children was only about 9 Am dollars/5 British pounds sterling in 2006 money! The children had to wear their clothes until the garments were either worn out or were outgrown. Add to this, the children had to make their own rooms and take care of their own domestic needs. And they had to keep busy, as well as study their school homework as assiduously as possible.

Read about the love and devotion between the parents and their children and also get a perspective from the minds of the children themselves. They were simply wonderful children, sometimes humorous and even rollicking, but always sincere and admirable. This book is what academicians call Sine Qua Non---absolutely indespensible. And it is FUN to read. The reader also will find that all of the letters, memoirs, and correspondence are in Chronological order. It is an absolute JOY to read and it is sheer revelation for those who are willing to be honest casual readers or honest scholars. The BEST!
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