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The Diary of Olga Romanov: Royal Witness to the Russian Revolution [Kindle Edition]

Helen Azar
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The First English Translation of the Wartime Diaries of the Eldest Daughter of Nicholas II, the Last Tsar of Russia, with Additional Documents of the Period
In August 1914, Russia entered World War I, and with it, the imperial family of Tsar Nicholas II was thrust into a conflict they would not survive. His eldest child, Olga Nikolaevna, great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, had begun a diary in 1905 when she was ten years old and kept writing her thoughts and impressions of day-to-day life as a grand duchess until abruptly ending her entries when her father abdicated his throne in March 1917. Held at the State Archives of the Russian Federation in Moscow, Olga’s diaries during the wartime period have never been translated into English until this volume. At the outset of the war, Olga and her sister Tatiana worked as nurses in a military hospital along with their mother, Tsarina Alexandra. Olga’s younger sisters, Maria and Anastasia, visited the infirmaries to help raise the morale of the wounded and sick soldiers. The strain was indeed great, as Olga records her impressions of tending to the officers who had been injured and maimed in the fighting on the Russian front. Concerns about her sickly brother, Aleksei, abound, as well those for her father, who is seen attempting to manage the ongoing war. Gregori Rasputin appears in entries, too, in an affectionate manner as one would expect of a family friend. While the diaries reflect the interests of a young woman, her tone grows increasingly serious as the Russian army suffers setbacks, Rasputin is ultimately murdered, and a popular movement against her family begins to grow. At the point Olga ends her writing in 1917, the author continues the story by translating letters and impressions from family intimates, such as Anna Vyrubova, as well as the diary kept by Nicholas II himself. Finally, once the imperial family has been put under house arrest by the revolutionaries, we follow events through observations by Alexander Kerensky, head of the initial Provisional Government, these too in English translation for the first time. Olga would offer no further personal writings, as she and the rest of her family were crowded into the basement of a house in the Urals and shot to death in July 1918.

The Diary of Olga Romanov: Royal Witness to the Russian Revolution, translated and introduced by scientist and librarian Helen Azar, and supplemented with additional primary source material, is a remarkable document of a young woman who did not choose to be part of a royal family and never exploited her own position, but lost her life simply because of what her family represented.

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Product Description

About the Author

HELEN AZAR is a librarian at the Free Library of Philadelphia who helps run a popular local history program. Trained as a scientist, she has worked at the Rare Book Foundation at the Museum of Tsarskoe Selo, Russia, and has published several articles on the identification of the remains of the last Tsar and his family.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5534 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Westholme Publishing; 1 edition (1 Dec. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HXCF8T6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #249,862 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Helen Azar is a public librarian specializing in history. She grew up in a Russian speaking household and as a child used to translate paragraphs from children's books and magazines for fun.

While researching for her first book, Helen visited Russia several times, and as part of academic curriculum worked in the Rare Book Fund at the Museum at Tsarskoe Selo, which holds the imperial book collection, including that of Catherine the Great and the last Tsar Nicholas II.

Helen's professional scientific training and a passion for Russian history led to publishing several articles on the identification of the remains of the last Tsar and his family.

Currently Helen works at the Free Library of Philadelphia and is part of a team of librarians that runs popular local history programs.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Book! 12 Jan. 2014
This is a remarkable book for several reasons. For the first time English readers have access to Olga's own words at a time when she was actively involved in nursing soldiers of WW1. Any first-hand accounts of that era are interesting in themselves, but that these are the account of a daughter of the Tsar makes the book all the more appealing. The book is unique, too, in containing excerpts from the diaries of Tsar Nicholas II, which haven't been seen in English before, along with Kerensky's recollections and those of several other contemporaries, which were extremely interesting to me. It is a beautifully-presented book and a definite `must have' for anyone interested in the Romanov family or the era. Highly recommended!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
While the story of the terrible fate of the Romanovs is widely known, the Tsar's daughters have often been presented as unfortunate and rather characterless young people, rather than individuals with their own unique perspective on the world. This wonderful book throws an entirely new light on the Tsar's eldest daughter as, in her own words, she comes alive for the reader who can, for the first time, glimpse the world through her eyes - her relationship with her parents and siblings, her anxieties about the health of her mother and brother, and her mature approach to the wider events taking place at the time. Although it is impossible to read Olga's own words without being aware of the tragedy about to befall her, this is not a `depressing' book, but rather a fascinating record of her life, her contacts, her friends outside the family (dispelling the myth that the Tsar's children were isolated from everyone else!) and an amazing first-hand account of her day-to-day life.
The supplementary texts are equally absorbing and the author has performed an amazing feat in bringing these letters and documents together and translating them for the English reader. It isn't necessary to be a historian or a scholar to enjoy this book as it surely appeals to anyone with even the slightest interest in finding the truth about events and people of the past, but it is also a necessary and beautiful addition to the library of any student of history or Romanov aficionado. A really great read, and a book to treasure! Highly recommended!
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A slice of life of the Russian court told from the perspective of Tzar Nicholas's oldest daughter, Olga. Sometimes giddy, at other times grounded in the stark realities of the first world war, it is a firsthand account in the form of a diary that outlines her day to day life and the impact of her changing world. Sweetly innocent, and charmingly devoted to her family, it's an insider's look into the everyday details, filled with Olga's warmth. Seemingly unaffected by her title, yet understanding her vital role in the royal family, it was a pleasure to read. Too often Alexandra's two youngest children, Alexsie and Anastasia steal the show. This book gave illumination to the personality of a budding, young woman born into a changing world and then destroyed because of it.
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