Rasputin: The Saint Who Sinned Hardcover – 26 Feb 1998
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About the Author
Brian Moynahan was a foreign correspondent and European editor with the London Sunday Times. He has traveled frequently to Russia and is the author of three previous books on Russian history: Claws of the Bear, Comrades, and The Russian Century. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book has a circular structure: it begins on the night of Rasputin's murder (and gives us the first of the many fables about his death, courtesy of his daughter, Maria). Then, we loop back to Rasputin's birth in rural Siberia, his childhood, and early years.Read more ›
I found this book a workmanlike and readable study of the life of this remarkable and world-historic individual, of whom most have a negative view. A few people think of him as a saint. The author, though, has it right: Rasputin was a saint AND sinner, a combination particularly hard for the "Western" or "European" mind to accept.
The flaw in this book, for me, was the concentration, entirely understandable, on Rasputin's political role at or around the dazzling and then fading brilliance of the soon-to-be-swept aside Court of Nicholas (Nikolai) II. I should have liked a lot more about Rasputin's religious and spiritual path. The author includes some ambiguous anecdotes about Rasputin's psychic powers, though.
I myself always have felt that Rasputin's more positive side has been left languishing rather by historians. An interesting view is seen in the work of Sergei O. Prokofieff, The Spiritual Origins of Eastern Europe and the Future Mysteries of the Holy Grail (Temple Lodge Press). Well worth looking at.
This is OK as a read but never fully took flight for me.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I think what threw me was in the middle of this book, Moynahan suddenly turned absolutely vitriolic and was shockingly scathing about Rasputin - and I really felt the obsenities were a bit over the top. There is no doubt Rasputin was just a wee bit manipulating and destructive in the actions he took to preserve his position as the Tsarina's right hand man, but I felt Moynahan drifted a bit there! A beautiful narration is one thing, obsenities are another and all rather lacked the nice professional tone that the book opened with.
However, towards the end of the book, Moynahan settled down again and got somewhere more polite about the whole tragic death. For all Rasputin did, he was just a focus of the frustration the people felt at the hardships being imposed upon them by a Tsar who seemed to be disconnected from his people. Moynahan did convey ratehr well that the prevailing atmosphere in which Rasputin was assisinated was one where you could tell it wasn't going to make any difference to the Russian Empire.
Its up to you whether you read this book - if you believe Radzinsky's sources for his book, then possibly his book is more accurate, however for a largely well-written book about Rasputin based on what the world knew for 70-odd years, this is a pretty good book (apart from the bit in the middle!)
Moynahan starts off with the clear, descriptive and simple writing style of the brilliant book on the last Romanov's by Robert K. Massie. Then somewhere in the middle of the book, he descends abruptly into a vitrilic foul-mouthed tirade at Rasputin - which is in shocking contrast to the start of the book. As the chapters kept on unfurling with this pure vitriol, my respect for the biographer and patience with the book deteriorated. Then suddenly, towards the end, Moynahan suddenly finds compassion for Rasputin in his (sensationalised) theory for Rasputin's death. However, Moynahan had lost my respect by then and the book was thrown into the bin - I couldn't bring myself to even subject it to the people at my local library where I usually donate books.
... If you want to read a masterpiece on a good biographer turned bad - this is the book for you. If you want to learn about Rasputin, there are other books on the market which are infinetely more informative!
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