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Rasputin: A short life [Kindle Edition]

Frances Welch
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

GRIGORY RASPUTIN, the Siberian peasant-turned-mystic, was both fascinating and unfathomable. As the only person able to relieve the symptoms of haemophilia in the Tsar’s heir Alexis, he gained almost hallowed status within the Imperial court. Yet he played the role of the simple man, eating with his fingers and boasting, ‘I don’t even know the alphabet’. During the last decade of his life, he and his band of ‘little ladies’ came to symbolise all that was decadent and remote about the Imperial Family – especially when it was rumoured that he was not only shaping Russian policy during the First World War, but also enjoying an intimate relationship with the Tsarina. Rasputin’s role in the downfall of the tsarist regime is beyond dispute. But who was he really? Prophet or rascal? In this unputdownable short biography – which draws on new material, including an interview with one of the last people alive who actually saw Rasputin, as well as unpublished memoirs, diaries and letters – Frances Welch turns her inimitable wry gaze on one of the great mysteries of Russian history.

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Review

"In this elegant and insightful short biography, Welch has enormous fun...she has done an excellent job of digging out the kind of telling detail that often gets swamped by the grand political narrative." - Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday

"The book is a delight to read...Frances Welch tells this extraordinary story in the right, clear, sceptical tone. It is subtitled "A Short Life" and published by Short Books. The brevity works." -Charles Moore, The Telegraph

"Frances Welch writes delightfully...in this slender and enjoyable biography, she sets about her search for [Rasputin] with common sense, wry observation and insight." -Orlando Figes, The Sunday Times

"Welch is a mistress of wry description not only in this book but in three other sharply observed works on the Russian court." -Roger Boyes The Times

Further praise for Frances Welch:

"Frances Welch combines historical insight with a novelistic flair for character." --Evening Standard

"Welch writes with a limpid style and cool intelligence." --- George Walden, Sunday Telegraph

"The book is a delight to read...Frances Welch tells this extraordinary story in the right, clear, sceptical tone. It is subtitled "A Short Life" and published by Short Books. The brevity works." -Charles Moore, The Telegraph

"Frances Welch writes delightfully...in this slender and enjoyable biography, she sets about her search for [Rasputin] with common sense, wry observation and insight." -Orlando Figes, The Times

"Welch is a mistress of wry description not only in this book but in three other sharply observed works on the Russian court." - --Roger Boyes The Times

"The book is a delight to read...Frances Welch tells this extraordinary story in the right, clear, sceptical tone. It is subtitled "A Short Life" and published by Short Books. The brevity works." -Charles Moore, The Telegraph

"Frances Welch writes delightfully...in this slender and enjoyable biography, she sets about her search for [Rasputin] with common sense, wry observation and insight." -Orlando Figes, The Sunday Times

"Welch is a mistress of wry description not only in this book but in three other sharply observed works on the Russian court." - --Roger Boyes The Times

"The book is a delight to read...Frances Welch tells this extraordinary story in the right, clear, sceptical tone. It is subtitled "A Short Life" and published by Short Books. The brevity works." -Charles Moore, The Telegraph

"Frances Welch writes delightfully...in this slender and enjoyable biography, she sets about her search for [Rasputin] with common sense, wry observation and insight." -Orlando Figes, The Times

"Welch is a mistress of wry description not only in this book but in three other sharply observed works on the Russian court." - --Roger Boyes The Times

About the Author

FRANCES WELCH has written for the Sunday Telegraph and Granta. She is author of The Russian Court at Sea (Short Books, 2011), A Romanov Fantasy: Life at the Court of Anna Anderson (Short Books, 2007), The Romanovs & Mr Gibbes (Short Books, 2003) and co-author of Memoirs of a Revolution, Russian Women Remember (Routledge, 1993). She is married to the writer Craig Brown and has two children. She lives in aldeburgh, Suffolk.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2305 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Short Books (6 Feb. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HXYSGS4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #139,571 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rasputin - AShort Review 16 Mar. 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A good readable book but I was hoping for something with a little more depth and insight. Nevertheless an enjoyable read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's well written, very readable, amusing (on occasion very funny) and succinct view of the man. Do not expect too much depth... this is not surprising as the author makes it clear that it's hard to separate the truth from what may have been gossip or pre and post soviet propaganda. Well worth a look though.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars End of an empire - and good riddance 22 Feb. 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"If there had been no Rasputin there would have been no Lenin" Whether or not that's true -- and it almost certainly isn't -- that's the reason that one reads about this deeply unattractive character. I'm not sure I could have born to spend sufficient time with Rasputin and his acolytes to have written this biography but Frances Welch has and I'm grateful to her. The book is nicely structured and the writing sings along from one grubby sexual encounter to the next. The beauty of Welch's writing (and I speak as a particular fan of her Mr Gibbs and the more recent, The Russian Court at Sea) is that she's observant, humorous and un-salacious, which is an especial relief when reading this book. Her years of research into the family and household of the last Romanov Tsar has given her comfortably wide knowledge of the many grand dukes, grand duchesses and their hangers on. One of the things that I learned from Rasputin: a short life was how many mad monks, holy fools, charlatans and suckers there were both in the great households and in the churches. Rasputin was merely the most successful. If he had not existed, there would have been no shortage of alternatives to play upon the gullible -- and the frightened. Of course one feels sympathy with the Tsarina, desperate for her haemophiliac son's survival but the political stakes were too high. Welch's portrayal of the Tsarina's infatuation and her meddling is neatly managed, and damning. I only wished that the assassins had been a more principled and attractive bunch. The naive involvement of the four Romanov daughters in Rasputinophilia was sickening -- but again never over played. The portrayal of Maria Rasputin was unexpectedly fascinating. "Rasputin: a short life" retains its focus throughout. "Rasputin: a LONG life" would have been almost unbearable!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A complete story about all of his life. 28 Feb. 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A more comprehensive view on Rasputins life,from youth to when he died.Alot more personal information about him and his married family.Not just the scandalous story you normally read about him.Fascinating and a knowledgable read,throughly enjoyed it.A
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting 9 Jan. 2015
By John
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Rasputin from a rather different angle to most biographies. As alway any books on Rasputin are fasinating
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saint or Satanic? 16 Feb. 2014
By Dr Barry Clayton TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a short book by an author who has written several about the Russian Court. It is engaging and enjoyable but by no means a complete account of Rasputin.

Frances Welch attempts in her book to disentangle the rumours and myths from the facts that surround Grigory Rasputin who was murdered in 1916 because of his scandalous behaviour and rumours that he was a German spy. Depending on which book you read-and there are many-he was a fake, a Holy Man, a lecher or a bit of all three. A man of God or a crafty manipulator? Lover of Alexandra, German spy? These are only some of the questions asked about the 'mad monk'-which he certainly was not. It has even been asked if British Intelligence was involved in his death. Whatever the truth, a mountain of books have chronicled his life. Musicals and films, cartoons and operas have taken him as their subject. Few of these are in English. One of the finest is by Sergei Trufanov entitled: 'Rasputin : the Mad Monk', and published in 1918. The author was a friend and an ex-monk who came to hate Rasputin. Nevertheless, it is a well researched and balanced account. Sadly, during the Cold War the Soviets refused access to archives that provide essential information. The result was a spate of books after 1975 that are based on salacious gossip and many errors of fact. Only after the 1990's was access permitted.

Rasputin was born in 1869 or 1872 ( even this is conjecture) in a poor remote Siberian village some 250 miles east of the Urals where winter temperature often fell below 40 degrees Celsius. More mystics and more 'holy men' came out of the region than any other part of Russia. He soon acquired a reputation in the area for being a. horse thief, lecher and drunkard. He was called 'rusputnik' meaning dissolute.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 12 Dec. 2014
By David
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
excellent biography of one of the 20th centuries most enigmatic characters
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2.0 out of 5 stars Was his life really this dull? 19 April 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Far from sensationalising Rasputin's life, the author has made the facts quite dull. Unfortunately, a rather disappointing read that doesn't bring the story to life.
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