On July 4, 1918, a new commandant took control of a closely guarded house in the Russian town of Ekaterinburg. His name was Yakov Yurovsky, and his prisoners were the Imperial family: the former Tsar Nicholas, his wife Alexandra and their children, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexey. Thirteen days later, at Yurovsky's command, and on direct orders from Moscow, the family was gunned down in a blaze of bullets in a basement room.
This is the story of those murders, which ended 300 years of Romanov rule and set their stamp on an era of state-orchestrated terror and brutal repression.
Ekaterinburg: The Last Days of the Romanovs counts down to the last , tense hours of the family's lives, stripping away the over-romanticised versions of previous accounts. The story focuses on the family inside the Ipatiev House, capturing the oppressive atmosphere and the dynamics of a group - the Romanovs, their servants and guards - thrown together by extraordinary events.
Marshalling overlooked evidence from key witnesses such as the British consul to Ekaterinburg Sir Thomas Preston, British and American travellers in Siberia and the now-forgotten American journalist Herman Bernstein, Helen Rappaport gives a brilliant account of the political forces swirling through the remote Urals town. She conveys the tension of the watching world: the Kaiser of Germany and George V, King of England - both, like Alexandra, grandchildren of Queen Victoria - their nations locked in combat as the first world war drew to its bitter end. And she draws on recent releases from the Russian archives to challenge the view that the deaths were a unilateral act by a maverick group of the Ekaterinburg Bolsheviks, identifying a chain of command that stretches directly, she believes, to Moscow - and to Lenin himself.
Telling the story in a compellingly new and dramatic way, Ekaterinburg brings those final tragic days vividly alive against the backdrop of Russia in turmoil, on the brink of a devastating civil war.