Most helpful critical review
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2009
I bought this book a few years ago for my mother - she lent it to a friend who didn't return it, so I was thinking about buying her another copy. We both read it cover to cover and were very impressed with the wealth of detail it contains.
But... on Googling the book title I came across some interesting debates about it on discussion forums. And I was shocked to find that there is a lot of doubt hanging over it. At best the sources seem to have been quoted selectively and at worst information presented as fact has been pulled out of thin air. In some cases the original source turns out to say the opposite of what appears in this book, or doesn't say anything at all.
This makes me question everything that is stated as fact in this book. I am really annoyed about this because when you read widely about a subject, as my mother has done about the Russian Revolution, you often don't know where all the info in your head has come from - so now it's difficult for her to disentangle the `facts' she got from this book from those that came from more reliable sources.
It seems that the authors believed in Anna Anderson, an Anastasia imposter, at the time of writing the book - even though DNA evidence had already proved her to have been a fraud. Some people have suggested that the authors massaged the facts to fit this theory, and I must say that, having looked into it a bit, I am inclined to think that they may be right. Apparently the authors were planning a book about Anna Anderson, but the discovery of the `missing' daughter's remains have thrown a spanner in the works - the authors now believe, finally, that Anna Anderson was a fraud and are now intending to produce an account of her life from this point of view.
What other preconceptions did they have while writing the book? Quite a few, I suspect. Certainly the problems with their use of sources, and their presentation of speculation as fact, don't seem confined to the areas related to Anastasia's 'survival'.
I am always suspicious of history written by people who have agendas and who therefore prejudge what their research is going to turn up - conclusions should be made to fit the evidence, not the other way round.