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Nicholas & Alexandra (Tragic, Compelling Story of the Last Tsar and His Family) Paperback – 14 Dec 2000
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The tragic, compelling story of the last Tsar and his family
Nicholas & Alexandra is the internationally famous biography from Pulitzer prize-winner Robert Massie. Massie shows conclusively how the personal curse of the young heir's haemophilia, and the decisive influence it brought Rasputin, became fatally linked with the collapse of Imperial Russia. As an engrossing account of one of the century's most dramatic episodes - and an intimate portrait of two people caught at the centre of a maelstrom - Nicholas & Alexandra is unlikely ever to be surpassed. 'The story of the last Tsar has probably never been so powerfully - and so accurately - told' GuardianSee all Product description
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Robert K Massie has written an excellent, if lengthy book, covering the span of Nicholas' life. We are given the background to his family, his marriage to the German Alexandra, and his journey through family and political life. Mr Massie also gives us good background on other important characters in the story such as Lenin and Rasputin, as well as major events of national and world importance, especially World War 1. The book is detailed and thorough in its approach, but is still very readable by the layman.
It took me quite a long time to read the book, but I'm glad that I did so. I felt that Robert Massie gave a very balanced approach, presenting the information as gathered from various sources. I certainly didn't feel that he was taking any particular party's "side", but was just presenting us with the facts as he saw them. The book was quite eye-opening and I feel that I've learnt a lot and begun to understand more about the Russia of the last Tsar.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Romanovs and the last days of Imperial Russia. It is to be noted though that the book is the electronic version of Mr Massie's 1967 book of the same title. As such it doesn't cover the later discovery of the bodies of the family, and the subsequent tests to prove exactly whose those bodies were. Also, please note that the main text of the book finishes at around 77% of the way through. The rest of the book is largely taken up with the extensive notes and bibliography necessary for such a well researched work.
The book is rich in detail about the daily life of the royals, where and how they went about their businesses and offers insightful biographical details of the most important figures surrounding them, such as Anna Vyrobova, Stolypin, Witte, Yussupow, Lenin, Kerensky and, of course, Rasputin. Throughout the book, which often reads like a novel, there is the constant Damoclean notion of tragedy. Although of course the Romanov's ultimate fate is known, Massie's writing skills are such that the reader is kept hoping that they, or at least the children, will be spared the terrible fate which befell them. After having read it for the third time, I can also say that it is to Massie's credit that, although the book was published 1968, the style of writing hasn't dated at all.
I couldn't have chosen better - Robert Massie has achieve an incredible literary feat with this book. From the very first pages, Massie uses sweeping prose to transport you directly into the heart of Russia, so that even when you've never visited that place at that point in history, it at once becomes familiar - and one important aspect when seeking to understand Russia, and what happened at the turn of the twentieth century, is undoubtedly understanding its landscape and its people, inextricably linked as they are.
Massie also rightly explains that the young Tsarevich Alexei's illness is another vital aspect, and his personal experiences of being the parent of a child suffering from the same frightening, unpredictable and brutal disease, is integral to understanding the personal struggles of a mother and father doomed to become slaves to their child's illness.
Add into this heady mix the detailed research Massie has put into the events surrounding WWI and Russia's plight to move away from autocracy, and his ability to convey these to the reader in an easily digestible format, and you have the foundations for a wonderfully informative, emotive and ultimately great work.
Each aspect of Russia during the last Tsar's reign is given to the reader like pieces of a jigsaw, which the author then instructs on how and where they belong, so that by the end of the book you have a complete and detailed picture. Don't be fooled though, whilst this book is undeniably detailed and full of facts, it is neither heavy nor boring. The key to this is the innumerable extracts from the diaries and correspondence of all those living at the time and directly involved, providing a genuine emotional link to the events as they unfold.
Genuinely the best non-fiction book I have read to date, I am disappointed only that it had to end and that it has set the bar so incredibly high for future works forced to compare.
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Most recent customer reviews
The stuff focussed on Nicky’s family is fantastic - great for understanding Russia’s recent...Read more
Couldn't set it down until I had finished reading it. A history book with the draw of a good novel.