A truly mindblowing insight into the realities of the Russian Aristocracy and NOT as the previous reviewer says 'the best justification for the Russian Revolution', not at all. I'm sure that THAT reviewer would have behaved in the same way...or probably worse, had he been in Prince Felix Youssoupoff's (expensive) shoes. All rich kids do daft things but realising the danger Russia was in, Prince Felix Youssoupoff did what was right and very brave, sadly it wasn't enough and Russia was plunged into decades of murder and pain on an unimaginable scale. Was it 20 or 30 million who starved to death in the Ukraine during Stalin's time? Russia was changing at the time of the revolution; nothing, NOTHING could have been worse than what happened, ask ANY Russian if millions of deaths were a price worth paying for 'a better world'. I have travelled extensively in Russia, the revolution was a disaster. The period described by Youssoupoff was unjust and extraordinary but nowhere near as appalling as what followed. One of the most extraordinary books I have ever read.
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Prince Felix Yusupov (1887- 1967) was a Russian aristocrat and the only thing noteworthy he ever achived was murdering Grigori Rasputin. Yusupov was born in Saint Petersburg and married Princess Irina of Russia, the beautiful niece of the last Emperor Nicolas II. They had but one daughter. His mother's family, the Yusupovs , were descendants of Edigey Khan, were fabulously wealthy, and in their Moika Palace (one of many luxurious estates) they kept uncut precisous stones for decorating perpuses. The Yusupov family acquired their wealth generations earlier through extensive land grants in Siberia, and they owned a string of profitable mines and fur trading posts. In order that the Yusupov name might not die out, the prince's father, Count Elston-Sumarokov, took his wife's surname and title upon their marriage. Felix was raised in opulent excess by his doting mother. He was bisexual and a transvestite. Felix claimed to have caught the eye of King Edward VII of England while in drag. There is also a strong sense that there was a homoerotic undertone to Felix's fascination with Rasputin. Rasputin, however, was apparently more interested in Yusupov's wife Irina, and it was on the pretext of a tryst with her that Felix invited him to the Moika Palace on the night he died. Rasputin, in keeping with his mysterious nature, withstood an amazing amount of abuse before finally dying. Reportedly he was repeatedly poisoned, shot half a dozen times, beaten severely, and finally drowned in a sack, while still struggling. The assassination of Rasputin failed to prevent the Russian Revolution. The Yusupov family was sent to a virtual house arrest in their farm ,outside Saint Petersburg.Read more ›
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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
A Glimpse Into A Vanished World18 Dec. 2003
John D. Cofield
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Prince Felix Yousssoupoff is best known as one of the murderers of Gregory Rasputin just before the Russian Revolution. He was a member of one of Russia's most aristocratic families, and in this memoir, originally published in the 1950s, he gives us a glimpse of life for a nobleman in pre-Revolutionary Russia. Life was certainly rich, if not always good, for Prince Felix. As a younger son, he was given very little education and basically allowed to do as he pleased during his formative years. Most of the time what he was pleased to do was to get into trouble. I lost count of the number of servants, governesses, and other retainers who quit with nervous breakdowns after trying to look after Felix. Under the influence of his elder brother, whom he adored, Felix had an early initiation into sexual and other kinds of debauchery. He enjoyed dressing as a woman and living the high life in St. Petersburg, London, and Paris. Felix was reticent about his sexuality, claiming several affairs with women but speaking more warmly about his men friends, including Grand Duke Dmitri, who helped him murder Rasputin. When Felix's brother was killed in a duel Felix became the heir to a vast fortune. He married Tsar Nicholas' niece Irina, whom he claimed to adore but otherwise said little about. The most interesting parts of this book deal with Rasputin, whom Felix met several times. Typically, Felix hints that there was a sexual nature to these encounters, but divulges few details. Felix describes the murder and his subsequent exile, which saved him from being in St. Petersburg during the February Revolution in 1917, and his internment in the Crimea with other members of the Imperial Family from 1917 through 1919, when he escaped on a British warship. This book is interesting but highly reticent. Felix never loses a chance to glamorize himself and his activities, with the result that some undeniably brave actions, like his several trips to St. Petersburg to rescue treasures while the Bolshevik terror was at its height, tend to get less attention than they deserve. A more open and informative biography of Prince Felix, The Man Who Killed Rasputin, by Greg King, was published several years ago and will help fill in the gaps left by Felix's own work.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
"The trials you are going through will teach you that life is not just a pastime."6 April 2006
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"I'll have you appointed minister, if you like," Rasputin tells Felix Yusupov as they began to get chummy with one another. But Yusupov, our author herein, had a far different motive for getting close to this "mystic." After all, he was the last remaining son of one of the wealthiest families in Russia (his family's palatial estates, pictured in this book, were downright royal). To boot, he was newly married to Tsar Nicholas II's niece Irina. The tsar was godfather to his first child as well. He didn't want for anything and certainly could have had a position in government had he been interested in one. But what he was interested in was getting close to the ever guarded Rasputin; ever watched over by the secret police, thanks to the tsarina. Rasputin, in Yusupov's words was "an uncultured, cynical, avid and unscrupulous peasant who had reached the pinnacle of power owing to a chain of circumstances." The sole son of the tsar had hemophilia & Rasputin was soon judged (by the Tsarina Alexandra) to be some comfort in alleviating the effects of the tsarevich's condition. Soon, however, Rasputin began to play on his influence with the tsarina (& through Alexandra's infuence with her husband) to engineer the likes of just what he had offered Yusupov---ie., effecting the political appointments of government personel. Then in 1914 war broke out with Germany. About a year after which Rasputin seems to have had an effect, as well, on persuading Alexandra to badger the tsar to take direct control over the war effort. Thus when the tsar did take command of the army (at field headquarters, which was far removed from the capital of St. Petersburg) Rasputin's hand in affairs of the state---including the army, through Alexandra, began to become quite pronounced. "Not a single important measure was taken at the front without his being consulted," Yusupov writes. But this wasn't just his impression. Russian society was awfully suspicious of German-born Alexandra's apparent closeness with an unwashed degenerate who had a reputation for engaging in orgies. It was an open scandal, costing the tsar much in the respect felt for the royal family; respect badly needed during wartime as the fighting continued to drag on, under conditions of societal hardship relating to food rationing and the like. Grand Duchess Elizabeth (whose husband had been assassinated), in particular, begged her sister Alexandra to acknowledge what damage her "blind confidence" in Rasputin was costing the country, but to no avail. The above is addressed through the first 229 (large type) pages in this autobiography as Yusupov paints a vanishing era of aristocratic splendor. Then he elaborately describes how he (supported by 4 other dignitaries) killed Rasputin in Yusupov's St. Petersburg mansion. The tsar's 1905 war with Japan, in Yusupov's words, was "one of the most terrible blunders made during the reign of Nicholas II." Another one was doing nothing in the wake of Rasputin's removal from the scene. "Rasputin's death made a new policy possible." Russians applauded Rasputin's removal, hoping that the tsar would now be emboldened to heed the cacophony of concerned advice & take needed measures before it was too late. But Nicholas seemed to be a "confirmed fatalist" who wasn't going to do much until he was forced to. A little more than 2 months later he was forced to abdicte. Perennial inaction by Nicholas, one of the most ineffective Romanov tsars, had finally cost him his crown. (PS: Yusupov-owned paintings can be seen in Russian museums now; his family's wealth/palaces having been confiscated by Lenin & Co not long after the Bolsheviks murdered Nicholas, Alexandra, their children, and as many relatives they could; after having usurped power from the Provisional Russian Government. Yusupov, in the company of Tsar Alexander III's widow---the Dowager Empress/mother of Nicholas---sailed out of the Crimea on a Royal (British) Navy ship 4-13-1919. Thanks for reading my review. Cheers!
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
An interesting glance into pre-revolutionary Russia26 Jun. 2006
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Like another reviewer I had visited the Youssoupoff palace and was amazed by the richness and beauty these people possessed. Unlike some others who might have sided with the revolutionaries for whatever reason Felix of course doesn't, as far as I could tell. I also think he misses the point of why exactly the revolution occurred although presents his side of events which I found fascinating when it came to Rasputin, the nobility, and even the royal family whom he was pretty intimate with.
It was his belief that by getting rid of Rasputin he could start Russia on a highway to reform and reorganization, this in my opinion he was very gullible in believing, but understandable as he was very distant from the population at large.
The reader is taken through Felix's childhood and we get a glimpse of how spoiled he was and how terribly difficult it was to keep him in line and make him understand what responsibility and civility mean, etc. And at the same time we see him sneaking off to find out what the poor live like which in the end changes how he views the world and those around him.
These are just some episodes from his memoirs, there are many others and many of them will make you laugh out loud, children will be children and their experiences of a century ago are very much alike to what goes on in our world today. A worthwhile read, very easy to get into and at times a real page turner, highly recommended for a side of things from the rich/nobility point of view.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Taken with a grain of salt1 May 2012
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I finally ordered this book after many years and it was a fast read. I was more interested in the photographs than the written text. But I will look upon it as how Felix Yusupov sees it or remembers it. I am constantly fascinated with the story of the last Tsar of Russia and his family and those who wrote about that period of history. I think Yusupov expected the murder of Rasputin to solve all of Russia's problems, especially those connected with the Tsarina, but it was obviously not going to change a thing. And like the Tsar said, "a murder is a murder". I would recommend this book for any one who reads or studies the end of the Romanov dynasty for their collection. But I would also advise you take it with a grain of salt. Likely we will never know the entire truth as Grand Duke Dimitri never spoke or wrote of his part in the murder. I will always find the saddest part of that horrific period of time was the death of the 4 daughters and their brother. Undoubtably Nicholas was never meant to rule and the best thing he could have done from the very beginning was to make a constitutional government. But again, Alexandra was the one who "wore" the pants and she would never have given up her role. It is interesting reading of all the fabulous riches that Yusupov and those like him socially seemingly took for granted or took as their due while millions starved to death. I will keep reading Romanov memoirs and have just begun reading one that Gleb Botkin wrote, son of the doctor murdered with the Tsar and his family.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Enjoyable Read23 Oct. 2010
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Book provided additional insight into the lives of the Russian nobility. Easy to read and very enjoyable.