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From Splendor to Revolution Paperback – 14 May 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (14 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250001617
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250001610
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 3.5 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 168,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Independent historian Gelardi has done her homework, drawing on an impressive array of primary and secondary sources to deliver a joint biography of four women who were part of Russia's imperial dynasty in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. . . . Against the backdrop of a tumultuous period in Russian history, this is really a book about an extended family, with a family's sorrows, joys, squabbles, and scandals, albeit on a very grand scale. . . . this is an absorbing account that will appeal to Russian history buffs and to those who enjoy reading about royals."--"Booklist""Relating the drama and tragedy of royal life, Gelardi ably weaves in the extended family ties that connected most European rulers, including Queen Victoria, while also including helpful genealogy charts. Gelardi's narrative framework of the four Romanov women's long lives works well to explain not only the realties of the European courts and alliances but also the unique aspects of the Russian dynasty, which suffered repeated assassination attempts even during the age of splendor, resulting in young Nicholas II's observation of his grandfather's murder, possibly hastening Russia's slide to revolution."--"Publishers Weekly "(starred review)"Gelardi does an exceptional job of relating the last years of the Romanovs via the formerly underutilized perspectives of the women behind the men. While Orlando Figes's "Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia "used Tolstoy's "War and Peace" as its framework, telling some of the same story, Gelardi offers a more richly detailed account, sure to captivate those with a deep interest in Russian and interrelated European history. Highly recommended."--"Library Journal""Gelardi's style, as in her previous work, the superb "In Triumph's Wake," is simple, straightforward and engaging. Her research is thorough and her sources solid. She contrasts well the Romanovs' privileged lives with the privations brought on by the Russian Revolution, and she doesn't skip the grimmest details. Gelardi is proof that history written from the female perspective can be all business. . . . another of Gelardi's excellent chronicles."--"Roanoke Times ""The Romanovs of Russia, like the Stuarts of England and the Bourbons in France, were one of those famous European dynasties doomed to end in violence and exile. Now, Julia P. Gelardi vividly describes how four Romanov women--an empress, a queen and two duchesses--though born into luxury, died in relative poverty. . . . Gelardi has written a richly detailed portrait of four women, whom marriage and blood put at the center of European history, and, as regimes fell, their worlds changed forever. It's a complex story well-told . . . an absorbing account."--"Richmond Times Dispatch""Gelardi is an excellent writer and a wise historian. She balances her often page-turning narrative of the spectacle and intrigue of the Imperial Russian court with insight into deeper themes. . . . To depict the terrifying events of the last chapters of From Splendor to Revolution calls for compassion and human insight, as well as the skill of a master story-teller. Gelardi certainly demonstrates that she possesses these gifts. . . . Gelardi has written a fine work of narrative history that will stand comparison with classics such as Robert Massie's "Nicholas and Alexandra" and Edward Crankshaw's "The Shadow of the Winter Palace.""--"California Literary Review" --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

JULIA P. GELARDI is the author of "Born to Rule "and "In Triumph's Wake." She is an independent historian, currently living in Minnesota with her husband and two daughters. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amelrode VINE VOICE on 17 April 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I started my review on Julia Gelardi's first book with the lines: I was first sceptical as I always found compilations of biographies disappointing. They always seem to promise a lot and in the end give little. I should not have been." And this applies to her third book as well. It is a pleasure to read. She finds a common threat justifiying to combine the biographies of these four women.

Two are born Romanovs, two married into the Romanov family: in the first category are Olga, the Grandduchess turned into the first Queen of the Hellenes of modern times, and Maria Alexandrovna, the Czar's very own and only daughter turned into the Duchess of Edinburgh and later sovereign Duches Consort of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. In the second category are Marie Feodorovna(Dagmar) of Denmark, the consort of Emperor Alexander III and mother of Nicolas II, and Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Granduchess Vladimir, the Empress of the Salon and mother of the frist Emperor-in-Exile. The center is Marie Feodorovna as all the other three ladies are her sisters-in-law.

Julia Geraldi recreates the splendid world of the Romanov court and the roles these four leading ladies played. However, unlike many memoires of the time wirtten by personalities deeply involved in the Czarist regime it is not a mere
complilation of splendid ceremonies and all the glamour of it. Yes, of course she has to give us that and she does not fail, but she tries to flash out the personalities, the characters, the ambitions, the famliy relationships and the spectaluar shortcomings. She puts all the glamour of it in sharp contrast to the misery of the masses. She makes one understand why the Romanov Empire crumbled and imploded from its very own contradictions.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Mar 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having enjoyed Julia P. Gelardi's previous books, I was looking forward to this with great anticipation, and I was not disappointed. For anyone interested in the Romanov's, this is the sweeping saga of four of the Romanov women, taking the story from 1847-1928. Rather than concentrating on the story of the Tsar and imperial family (interesting as it is, it has been done many times before), Gelardi takes four women from the generation above Tsar Nicholas II. There is Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia, wife of Alexander III and mother of the ill fated Tsar. Queen Olga of Greece, daughter of Constantine, brother of Alexander II. Marie Alexandrovna, Duchess of Edinburgh and Duchess of Saxe-Coburg, sister to Alexander III. Lastly, Marie Pavlovna, Grand Duchess of Russia, wife of Grand Duke Vladimir, brother of Alexander III. To be honest, as much as I love my kindle, I was glad this was only available as a hardback when I ordered it - I needed to refer to the genealogy tables quite often at first, until I was sure who everybody was. Two of the women were born into the Romanov dynasty and two married into it, living lives of opulent luxury. However, by the end of the Revolution and WWI, their lives (and Europe) had changed completely. The first half of the book takes us up to 1905, recounting the lives, loves and marriages of these incredibly interesting women. In the second half of the book, the enormous changes wrought by unfolding revolution are recounted.

It was really interesting to have a large part of the book concentrate on the pre-revolution years, as many books seem to skip over those and concentrate on the revolution. However, understanding how these women lived and their family ties, made the coming disasters more poignant.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Imelda on 11 Jan 2012
Format: Hardcover
I love history books and I love books about the doomed Romanov dynasty in particular so I was looking forward to reading about the more obscure Romanov women. This is the third of Ms Gelardi's books that I have read and whilst she is thorough in her research and writes in an entertaining way, her style of including quote after quote after quote irritates me no end!

I realise that this sort of book requires quotes but she does go to the extreme - in a review of one of her other titles, I mentioned that she even has quotes within quotes!

Some of the timelines in the book jumped around a bit and you did have to sometimes remind yourselves who was who but overall a very enjoyable book and my complaints will not stop me buying her next title when it comes out
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jocelyn Collins on 17 Jan 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In some ways it is an interesting book but I found it rather intricate and somewhat hard to follow, despite the fact I have read extensively on the Romanov family. It was also rather sad.
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This book is definitely interesting. I enjoyed reading it very much and Julia Gelardi is a very good writer. I like these compilation biographies and this one provides an even closer look at the Romanovs, both in Russia and out. As I knew very little of Greek history, this was an added bonus. For those interested in Royal history, I would recommend it.

That said, it is also true that Gelardi makes use of quotes frequently rather than rewriting in her own words, which I think harms the narrative a bit. She also makes a few odd comments here and there and a few questionable judgements that lead me to think that, although the book is full of details, it is not a rigorous academic study. It is mainly just a really fascinating story and worth reading.
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