@Free Kindle ⚢ The Romanovs: 1613-1918 â eBook or E-pub free

Having read Mr Sebag Montefiore s previous book Jerusalem The Biography, I was looking forward to reading this one Unfortunately I found this mildly disappointing While it is well researched and is organized in a linear manner, I found the narrative a bit disjointed The other problem I had was the author s emphasis on the various Romanov s sexual lives view spoiler I really didn t need to know the pet names Nicholas and Alexandra had for their genitals, the size of Rasputin s penis, or t Having read Mr Sebag Montefiore s previous book Jerusalem The Biography, I was looking forward to reading this one Unfortunately I found this mildly disappointing While it is well researched and is organized in a linear manner, I found the narrative a bit disjointed The other problem I had was the author s emphasis on the various Romanov s sexual lives view spoiler I really didn t need to know the pet names Nicholas and Alexandra had for their genitals, the size of Rasputin s penis, or that Nicholas I, publically portrayed as a paragon of family values, visited his main mistress twice a day hide spoiler In this narrative the author takes each Romanov ruler in turn from Michael I through to Michael II technically the last Tsar Especially in the early chapters, Mr Montefiore looks as the brutality that was rampant in Russia This was not just executions, but the manner people were executed This included impaling losers in political contests through the rectum on spikes in the court yard of the Kremlin, or just tossing them over the wall and letting the troops tear them apart.In telling story he looks at each Tsar Tsarina, I found a lot of interesting facts that I didn t know For instance, when Michael I was chosen as the first Romanov Tsar he didn t want anything to do with it He hid in a closet in hopes the messengers wouldn t find him and it took his mother to convince him that it was his duty to accept the crown.As the author tells the story of each of the Tsar, in addition to their sex lives, he also looks at how they governed and how the power of the throne changed over time This includes Peter the Great s attempts to force Russia into the 17th century as he fought his wars with Sweden, Catherine the Greats attempts to modernize while conducting wars with the Ottoman Empire in the 18th century and the push back she received from her aristocracy, Alexander I s growth as Tsar in facing Napoleon and finally the utter failure of Nicholas II as an autocrat and his refusal to admit his limits, resulting Russia s failure in World War I and his abdication.Roughly the last half of the book is about the 19th and 20th century Tsars As he looks these Romanovs again he looks at the attempts, however halting that they made to modernize Russia and the pushback they received from both the aristocracy and surprisingly the peasants One fact I found amazing was that Nicholas II s grand father, Alexander II who finally freed the serfs, survived 6 assassination attempts before finally succumbing to the 7th In telling the story of the 19th century Tsars, the author also does a very commendable job of describing the antisemitism that was rampant in both the aristocracy and the general populous He does a excellent job of explaining how the Jewish population was used as the scapegoat for what ever problems was occuring in society at the time.Probably the most in depth look at any of the Romanovs is the treatment of Nicholas and Alexandra In the section, the author tells the story of their romance, Alexandra s influence over her husband and his failures as autocratic Tsar For example, whenever he thought about weakening the power of the Tsar and allowdemocracy, she would object strenuously and usually prevail The picture the author draws of Nicholas is of a man who was personally a kind and gentle and knows he really isn t cut out to be Tsar, but feels it is his duty to accept the job His personal gentleness did not carry over to his official duties and he allowed several brutal suppressions of various rebellions In additions to the sexual hijinks of the various Tsars and other members of the Aristocracy, The author looks at the drug use of the Royal family, especially Alexandra According to the author she was a drug addict She was being prescribing large amounts of both cocaine and various opioids The author does a really good job of describing the influence Rasputin had on both Alexandra in particular and the court in general One fact I didn t know was that Nicholas II technically was not the last Tsar When he abdicated the crown passed to his brother Michael He was Tsar only as long as it took to sign his abdication papers, less than a day.The final section of the book is a telling of what happened to the Romanov family after they abdicated the throne Mr Sebag Montefiore does a good job in describing the attempts Lenin made to keep his finger prints off of the executions and the reasons he had of doing so However, once the decision was made to execute Nicholas and his family, no Romanov was safe The Bolsheviks executed every member of the family they could get their hands on Some of the executions were moderately humane, ie Micheal II, but others were executed with shocking brutality including Nicholas, his immediate family and the few retainers that had been allowed to stay with them For example, one group including the Tsarina s sister Ella, a nun, were thrown into a flooded mineshaft and left to drown When the executioners could still hear the victims talking, they threw grenades down the shaft, when they still heard noises, they threwgrenades and finally built a fire over the shaft until they could hear nosound.All in all this is an extremely well researched book, but the narrative is a bit uneven It is lavishly illustrated, including a nude sketch that Alexander II made of his favorite mistress and later his wife, that is not bad It really picks up in the last half Midst all the sexual content that is not really appealing to me, there is some really good history I would give this 4 stars for research, but only 3 for the writing If GR allowed, I would rate this 3.25 stars, so I rounded down Having now completed the book has my view changed No it hasn t Please see what I have written below What is written here are either additional thoughts or that which I feel must be emphasized While the book does indeed provide facts of interest I feel the author all too often sensationalizes, emphasizes the bad over the good and has excessive details on the sexual behavior of not only of the Romanovs but also every darn person mentioned I really don t need to know the size of Rasputin s pen Having now completed the book has my view changed No it hasn t Please see what I have written below What is written here are either additional thoughts or that which I feel must be emphasized While the book does indeed provide facts of interest I feel the author all too often sensationalizes, emphasizes the bad over the good and has excessive details on the sexual behavior of not only of the Romanovs but also every darn person mentioned I really don t need to know the size of Rasputin s penis Seriously, given the amount of details pertaining to sex, aappropriate title might be The Sex Lives of the Romanovs and Their Compatriots 1613 1918 I am kind of joking but there is also a message to be taken note of The mix of historical facts and the pronounced emphasis on sex is just plain weird In any case a prospective reader should be warned The sex is not graphic, but excessive and unnecessary Further, I felt I was wading through an immense amount of irrelevant details, not just those related to sex The writing is dense Lots of names, dates and minutiae Important historical details are there if you can wade through the muck to get to them Perhaps the book s wide scope, covering all of the Romanovs, makes it difficult to achieve adequate depth The Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean and Balkan Wars, the Russian Revolution and the First World War are all, albeit cursively, covered Below I have recommended books by Robert K Massie, but also George, Nicholas and Wilhelm Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I should be mentioned I gave it 4 stars I did not find the personalities of the eighteen different Romanov czars to be sufficiently analyzed Each one s most important actions are spoken of but their personality traits remain diffuse Each one s physical appearance is described but their thoughts get much less attention Negative attributes come to the fore over the positive For me a balanced portrayal is lacking I left the book with the feeling that the author immensely dislikes the Romanovs as a group and was unable to acknowledge their achievements All of them are pretty much classified as anti Semitics with little attention paid to those actions which counter this sweeping judgement I think the positive actions of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great and Alexander II s abolition of serfdom warrantedattention Not only were the serfs emancipated but also given land The emancipation occurred in 1861 It is interesting to note that the Civil War in the States began this year Blacks were not given land.By the end of the audiobook I was sick and tired of having to rewind to catch the Russian names The narration should have been slower and namesdistinctly pronounced This is my second non fiction book by the author I gave Jerusalem The Biography also two stars My review am providing my review because I believe by comparing the two one sees similarities I have decided on the basis of these two books that most probably even the author s fiction will not fit my tastes though the topic might attract me It is interesting to note that in both of these books the author goes off on a tangent about his own family s roots and how his ancestors knew famed personages This doesn t belong in either book Please read below I have tried to avoid repetition Halfway through I have gotten thorough the Romanov Czars up to Nicolas I I am not for the most critical of the factual content but rather its focus However, please see below the paragraph about Alexander von Benckendorff This author loves to stun, loves to point out violence Beheadings, impalements, dismembering of bodies, torture, tongues ripped out, rapes, deviant sexual behavior and physical abuse abound He doesn t merely document, he dramatizes One example is that written about the Congress of Vienna Less is said about its political consequences than the partying and sexual liaisons of the delegates You get a whiff of the author s way of writing from the fact that rather than the book having chapters the different sections are called scenes and acts This author prefers to detail the bad rather than the good One example very little is said about the magnificent buildings erected by the Romanovs Sure, they are mentioned, but few details are given Art collections, literary works are scarcely mentioned A quote is taken from Pushkin, but what does the author choose to quote A line about the the size of General Aleksey Arakcheyev s penis Sigh The author enjoys throwing out statements that shock or at least surprise Some sentences leave you wondering what exactly is being implied I prefer clarity I was surprised by the statement that Alexander von Benckendorf, head of the Secret Police under Nicolas I, didn t know his own name and had to consult his business card The author leaves no comment on the validity of this statement Who said this What are the sources Which facts are pure gossip and which true If this is to be considered a serious work on the Romanovs why is this statement presented in such a fashion Reading this is not a waste of time I am learning, but I don t like the presentation, the author s dramatization and penchant for salacious details.I MUCH prefer the writing of Robert K Massie I have read and highly recommend the author s books Nicholas and Alexandra and Catherine the Great Portrait of a Woman I would grab Peter the Great His Life and World if I could I should say something positive I liked how the author wrote about the Napoleonic Wars.I am further disappointed that family tree information provided in the written version is not made accessible in the audiobook format via an accompanying PDF file Not a big problem though, since one can easily find the information on the web The audiobook is narrated by Simon Russell Beale I don t love it, but there is nothing actually wrong For the most part the lines are clearly pronounced and presented at a good speed He seems to be fluent in Russian, so he whips off the names quickly This makes it hard for me to jot them down It can be hard to guess the correct spelling, but I have come close enough to be able to find them on the web.I continue @Free Kindle ò The Romanovs: 1613-1918 ⛓ The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world s surface for three centuries How did one family turn a war ruined principality into the world s greatest empire And how did they lose it all This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition Simon Sebag Montefiore s gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance, with a global cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries and poets, from Ivan the Terrible to Tolstoy and Pushkin, to Bismarck, Lincoln, Queen Victoria and Lenin Paul Graham ruling a sixth of the world s surface for three centuries How did one family turn a war ruined principality into the world s greatest empire And how did they lose it all This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas de Interrogationibus Obliquis Apud Ciceronem Observationes Selectae some touched by genius A Trip to the Zoo some by madness Las mejores anécdotas del Barça (Deportes) but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition Simon Sebag Montefiore s gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire building To Love Again (Bound Hearts overshadowed by palace conspiracy All He Needed family rivalries A Christmas to Remember sexual decadence and wild extravagance Step In with a global cast of adventurers The Amazing Hairstyles Book courtesans Le destin funeste de Michael Rockefeller revolutionaries and poets Prinzipien in der Philosophie from Ivan the Terrible to Tolstoy and Pushkin The Vampire Diaries to Bismarck The Bodies Just Keep Piling Up Lincoln Frida Kahlo And Diego Rivera Queen Victoria and Lenin Simon Sebag Montefiore s blockbuster history of the Romanov dynasty was a great choice for me to read prior to my much anticipated trip to St Petersburg next month I had been looking for a book on the Romanov dynasty and this was exactly what I was looking for It s a unique and compelling read and quite a shocking insight into all twenty of the Romanov tsars and tsarinas Some books especially non fiction need to be read in good old fashioned paperback in order to get the best out of them and Simon Sebag Montefiore s blockbuster history of the Romanov dynasty was a great choice for me to read prior to my much anticipated trip to St Petersburg next month I had been looking for a book on the Romanov dynasty and this was exactly what I was looking for It s a unique and compelling read and quite a shocking insight into all twenty of the Romanov tsars and tsarinas Some books especially non fiction need to be read in good old fashioned paperback in order to get the best out of them and the Romanoves is a prime example I originally purchased this on Audio but very quickly realized this was a mistake and switched to the hardback edition I was so glad I did as each chapter is prefaced with a cast list and I found this extremely helpful as there is a vast amount of characters in each chapter and I found myself consulting the Cast List on numerous occasions to remind myself of who was who and I think this is reflected in the length of time it took me to complete this book I also enjoyed the inclusion of the Family tree, maps and illustrations which really added to the enjoyment of the book and are so important additions for the reader.From the first paragraph of the Introduction I was hooked.It was hard to be a tsar Russia is not an easy country to rule Twenty sovereigns of the Romanov dynasty reigned for 304 years, from 1613 until tsardom s destruction by the revolution in 1917 The Romanovs were actually the most spectacularly successful empire builders since the Mongols,This is an epic history of The House of Romanov which was the second dynasty, after the Rurik dynasty, to rule over Russia, and ruled from 1613 until the abdication of Czar Nicholas II on March 15, 1917, as a result of the February Revolution its packed full of facts and intrigue and details that any reader who enjoys reading about the Romanov family from its begining until its shocking massacare of the entile family in 1918 may well find this a very interesting read Its also a story of power, love, lust sex and violence and greed and I was at times quite shocked by the debauchery and cruelty of the time although I had come accross it in other accounts of the Romanov family its seemshighlighted in this account and may not be for the feint hearted A very comprehensive and detailed book and therefore a slow but extremely satisfying read for me Its perfectly paced and meticulously researched and while it could have been a slog with such a vast amount of information and details to pack in, the author manages to bring Russian Histroy and the house of Romanov to life in a most unique and modern way and I found myself engrossed throughout Delighted I had the opportunity to read this before my visit to St Petersburg and looking forward to visiting a number of places mentioned in the book I M DONE This is a behemoth of a book But it s so worth it The Romanovs is absolutely wonderful historical nonfiction Montefiore clearly knows his stuff, and it s a joy to read I will say, if you don t read a ton of nonfiction andspecifically, historical nonficiton , this may be a bit difficult It s a WHOLE LOT of exposition If you re used to that, or think that s no problem, then DEFINITELY pick this up But it s something to keep in mind If you don t think huge, unbroken par I M DONE This is a behemoth of a book But it s so worth it The Romanovs is absolutely wonderful historical nonfiction Montefiore clearly knows his stuff, and it s a joy to read I will say, if you don t read a ton of nonfiction andspecifically, historical nonficiton , this may be a bit difficult It s a WHOLE LOT of exposition If you re used to that, or think that s no problem, then DEFINITELY pick this up But it s something to keep in mind If you don t think huge, unbroken paragraphs are your thing, I d recommend checking this out on audiobook I often find that exposition works better when you re listening rather than reading.I do think that the structure of this books REALLY helps with it s size, both literal and figuratively This book is well over 600 pages of text plus an extensive bibliography , and it covers about 300 years Montefiore breaks the book up into several different parts, and the chapters in each part are described as scenes The beginning of each scene has a cast all of the important figures he ll be discussing and I found that wildly helpful There are lots of similar, if not identical, names, and being able to flip back to the cast list really helped with keeping track of who s who.Montefiore s tone throughout the novel was great he s informative, but happily pokes fun at the quite frequent ridiculousness of the Romanov family Many of the footnotes, while not essential to the story, are full of wonderful little tibits.I definitely recommend picking this up Review to follow But it s basically just going to say it s excellent so if you don t need anyinfo than that, you re good to go. Montefiore covers the 304 years of the Romanov line of tsars from 1613 to 1917 His presentation gives us a different perspective than that provided by individual biographies We are able to judge the individual tsars and empresses in the context of the traditions they inherited and the flow of history We see how each dealt with similar circumstances We learn how the differing personalities, capabilities and temperament of each autocrat changed history From the pinnacle of the bold ruthless P Montefiore covers the 304 years of the Romanov line of tsars from 1613 to 1917 His presentation gives us a different perspective than that provided by individual biographies We are able to judge the individual tsars and empresses in the context of the traditions they inherited and the flow of history We see how each dealt with similar circumstances We learn how the differing personalities, capabilities and temperament of each autocrat changed history From the pinnacle of the bold ruthless Peter the Great to the nadir of the abysmally weak Nicholas II In 1613 a seventeen year old boy, Michael, became the first Romanov tsar Michael s main qualification for being selected by the boyars and nobles was that he was an immaculate pawn , meaning he brought no powerful relationships with him Michael and his mother did not want this extremely dangerous position Murders and violence had been the fate of many predecessors and would be for many successors Russia was steeped in Orthodox traditions Men wore long beards and kaftans with sleeves hanging to the ground Royal woman wore veils and were kept hidden abiding by strict rules The tsar was enveloped in ceremony which could take the entire day When Michael had to choose a bride it was done as it had been in Byzantium with a bride show Young woman of the realm were invited to be viewed and selected by the tsar But politics determined everything Michael chose a bride only for her to be poisoned, made sick and sent away as too unhealthy Young women were used as pawns by powerful families to secure power and profit After twobride shows Michael chose the correct young woman, his mother s favorite Such was royal life Michael died in 1645 and his son Alexei became tsar.Perhaps Alexei s most notable impact was in 1648 when he approved new laws that gave nobles sole authority over the peasants on their land They could not leave without permission and could be hunted if they escaped They were subject to the justice imposed by the noble Thus they were now serfs and for practical purposes enslaved Owning serfs became the very definition of nobility In return Alexei secured his autocracy and the right to mobilize everyone for war He also established 63 crimes punishable by death, some by being buried alive, some others by burning Lesser criminals received the knout, a kind of cat o nine tails that could kill in only ten lashes Alexei died in 1676 His son Peter would bring dramatic change and be known as Peter the GreatAs a young boy Peter saw people he knew violently killed in the constant carnage surrounding the jockeying for power, perhaps contributing to his epileptic fits But he would grow tall, strong and striking Not a book learner, as a child he played war games with his toys He built miniature armies and practiced them And as soon as he was able he did the same with real people He used these play armies and friends he had made in the German community in Moscow to take power from his older half sister, Sophia Sophia had tried to have Peter killed, but Peter won putting Sophia in a monastery, torturing and exiling her accomplices.Peter became a warlord, assigning all ceremonial duties to others He was the first tsar to leave Russia, traveling around Europe and visiting Parliament in England He wanted the technology and the weapons he saw He modernized the Russian Army He shaved off his beard, a symbol of Orthodox piety, and had others do likewise His social life was beyond wild He established the All Mad All Jesting All Drunken Synod This group of his friends engaged in mock rituals with wide open sex and heavy drinking His collection of dwarfs and freaks provided entertainment Peter enjoyed his girlfriends and mistresses He tired of his wife selected by his mother , took their son, put her in a monastery and had her uncle tortured to death Peter left no doubt about who was in charge When people threatened him, he took decisive action Beheading, torture and gruesome deaths were a frequent remedy and could involve hundreds at a time.Russia, while large, was smaller than today and essentially landlocked In 1700 Peter attacked Sweden which controlled the areas around the Baltic taking the land on which he would build St Petersburg He also met a Livonian peasant girl, formidable in her own way, who would become the love of Peter s life and Empress Catherine I after his death Peter began marrying off Romanovs to European royalty to integrate Russia into European society In 1716 Peter s son Alexei ran off to the Austrian court with the stupid idea that he could raise an army to overthrow Peter Peter had him captured then tortured Alexei to death along with anyone who had any inkling of Alexei s plans Peter doubled the number of offenses punishable by death and enhanced the punishments to include breaking on the wheel and quartering For lesser offenses clipping of nostrils and pulling out of tongues was commonly applied Peter often chose his mistresses from Catherine s retinue who had to keep up with Catherine s late night drinking One of Catherine s most beautiful ladies, Mary Hamilton, stole some of Catherine s jewelry and under torture confessed to abortions Peter had her beheaded despite the protests of Catherine At the beheading, Peter kissed the dismembered head, lectured the crowd, then threw it to the ground He had it embalmed and placed in his cabinet of curiosities In 1721 Peter became the first emperor in addition to tsar All subsequent tsars would also be emperors.Peter died in 1725 In 1745 Peter s grandson who had been raised in Germany married a German princess the future Catherine the Great Catherine and the future Peter III had a contentious marriage and no one is sure if Peter III was the father of her child Paul Catherine wrote in private that he was her lover s son If so that is when the Romanov line ended Peter III became tsar in 1761 Catherine and he each tried to have the other arrested Catherine beat him to the punch Peter was taken prisoner and beaten and strangled, although the official cause of death was hemorrhoidal colic Catherine the Great learned the ropes quickly She would pick up where Peter the Great left off Montefiore refers to Catherine s abundant sexual liaisons as serial monogamy A few such as Grigory Orlov, her first lover as empress, would always remain important to her Grigory Potemkin was the love of her life despite both moving on to numerous others She would always rely on him as an astute political partner They shared well matched intellectual interests beyond the physical He would stand out as a cavalry leader, a general, a geopolitical strategist His military and diplomatic skills were essential to expanding Russian territory around the Black Sea completing Peter the Great s vision.Catherine the Great died in 1796 and despite her hopes, her son Paul became tsar He lasted five years before being beaten to death like his father Peter III Just like his father he had tried to impose Prussian military culture on Russia It didn t go over well His son became Tsar Alexander I as Catherine had wished Like her he felt the need for reform but always deferred to autocracy His biggest accomplishment was defeating Napoleon When Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812, Alexander had to back either the general who wanted to meet Napoleon head on or the one who wanted to continually retreat, harass and draw Napoleon deeper into Russia He chose the latter, despite much advice to the contrary, saving Russia and humiliating Napoleon Emboldened he sent Russian troops along with his allies all the way to Paris 1815 was the height of Russian power which steadily declined under the succeeding tsars.With Alexander s death in 1825, his brother became Tsar Nicholas I He was immediately faced with the Decembrist revolt, which he put down, but left him in paranoia Nicholas took tight control surveilling and arresting any suspected dissidents In 1849 he had Dostoevsky placed before a firing squad reprieving him at the very last second He was sent to Siberia instead, but Dostoevsky was shaken to the core Nicholas entrapped Pushkin placing him in his court to control the popular poet Afraid of Russian designs on the failing Ottoman Empire, the French and British invaded Crimea in 1854 Nicholas had failed to modernize Russia and its army His troops were fighting with old flintlock muskets far inferior to the British and French rifles When Nicholas died in 1855, Russia had only two rail lines.Alexander II, Nicholas s son, took over amidst the debacle in Crimea He was forced to accept a harsh settlement Alexander had liberal leanings He eased censorship and rules for universities and courts He provided for local assemblies and reduced restrictions on Jews Most significantly he freed the serfs in 1861 They could no longer be bought and sold They could marry who they wanted and they could own land Still they remained poor Now Alexander couldn t control the serfs through the nobles, only through his army Two years later Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation Alexander was an admirer of Lincoln and very upset when he was assassinated The 1860 s brought the expansion of newspapers, the telegraph, railroads and radical new ideas This was the decade Tolstoy wrote War and Peace and Dostoevsky Crime and Punishment Alexander reversed his liberal course in 1863 to put down a Polish uprising He deployed 300,000 Russian troops, executed hundreds, and deported 18,000 to Siberia The love of Alexander s life was not his first wife, the empress, but his mistress, Katya, with whom he had many children He married her after the empress died to the chagrin of all around him Montefiore quotes from their love letters which describes their extremely active sex life Vying with affairs of state, Alexander s primary preoccupation was having sex with Katya In 1881 Alexander II was assassinated His son, Alexander III, removed the liberal advisors of his father, ditched the reforms, and doubled down on control and repression Anti Semitic, he condoned violent pogroms Many thousands of Jews left for America during Alexander s reign This was part of a broader effort to repress minorities and tie the country to him through nationalism He set up the Okhrana, a secret police that would infiltrate dissident organizations Alexander realized Russia was far behind the European powers Russia began selling grain to help industrialize, leading to famine and starvation in 1891 But a boom followed and over a million peasants moved to man the new industries By 1900 Russia doubled its rail lines including the Trans Siberian Railway, developed significant oil deposits, built factories and a thriving textile industry.In 1894 Alexander III died Nicholas II became tsar Nicholas had a soft reserved childlike quality He didn t want to be tsar Seeing that Nicholas exerted no authority at all when his father became very ill, his fianc e, the future empress Alexandra, started telling him how to behave She told him make the doctors come to you Be firm Both Nicholas and Alexandra were easily overwhelmed by details and the intricacies that came with their positions Neither trusted sophisticated people Their simplicity of thought made them perfect targets for Rasputin She gave birth to four daughters and one hemophiliac son, Alexei, who would dominate her life By that time she was already suffering from numerous pains and taking opium, cocaine, morphine, and a barbiturate She could have ten hysterical fits a day Nicholas, always faithful, was happy with anything that would calm her, including Rasputin Rasputin, a hierophant, was also sexually psychopathic engaging in orgies with bevies of prostitutes where he would brag about his control over Alexandra the Old Lady I can make her do anything The key for Rasputin was that he seemed to be able to will Alexei s bleeding to stop.Nicholas started a disastrous war with Japan in 1904 that greatly weakened his standing at home and abroad At home he was beset by constant unrest from revolutionary groups carrying out assassinations, bombings and ordinary crime to raise money The Okhrana grew infiltrating and closely surveilling revolutionaries In January 1905, 160,000 workers went on strike in Petersburg and marched on the Winter Palace to deliver a petition for better conditions To stop them, soldiers killed over one thousand and thousandswere wounded Known as Bloody Sunday, this incident hardened both sides That year would see riots, strikes, and assassinations greatly increase across Russia Some areas were completely controlled by dissidents Nicholas conducted a punitive counter revolution with officially 15,000 killed, 45,000 deported and 70,000 arrested The actual count was far higher Separately pogroms killed thousands of Jews While not initiated by Nicholas, he praised those who conducted them.WWI broke out in August 1914 Nicholas, Alexandra and Rasputin did not want war, but a cascade of events drew them in After the ill led and ill equipped Russian army suffered setback after setback, Nicholas II took command in the field This fateful decision meant he no longer could run the government Alexandra took over As one minister noted she had a will of iron linked to not much brain and no knowledge On top of which she still consumed barbiturates, cocaine, morphine and other opiates She replaced all the ministers and let Rasputin select new ones She quickly replaced again those she didn t like with new sycophants The government was in utter chaos and booklets spread around Russia claiming Alexandra had sexual affairs with Rasputin Nicholas always gave in to his wife even though frustrated by her decisions He retreated into a childlike state Sensing disaster, two Romanovs killed Rasputin It changed little Rasputin, an astute manipulator, had largely been confirming what Nicholas andimportantly Alexandra already believed.The country was experiencing inflation and food shortages as the public lost its last remnant of faith in the tsar In February 1917, with food lines stretching blocks, the people had enough Riots ensued, police were shot, stores looted, buildings taken over Petersburg was under revolutionary control Nicholas abdicated to Grand Duke Michael who became the last Romanov tsar He abdicated the next day and 304 years of Romanov reign ended In August, at the direction of prime minster Kerensky who was trying to protect them from the Bolsheviks, the family was moved to a town in Siberia near Rasputin s former home, which they passed on the way In October 1917 the Bolsheviks seized power In April the family was moved to Ekaterinburg where they were murdered Montefiore s account is riveting Heavy reading but well worth it Unbelievably well researched none of the myth of this great house Family trees and fantastic photos Each chapter begins with a cast of characters which primes the reader for whom to expect to read about keeps the timeline straight as well as who is related Explores beginning links to other royal families, the construction of palaces, formation of armies.Torture, espionage, murder, intrigue, war, sex I thought at first to write quick synopses of each section, bu Heavy reading but well worth it Unbelievably well researched none of the myth of this great house Family trees and fantastic photos Each chapter begins with a cast of characters which primes the reader for whom to expect to read about keeps the timeline straight as well as who is related Explores beginning links to other royal families, the construction of palaces, formation of armies.Torture, espionage, murder, intrigue, war, sex I thought at first to write quick synopses of each section, but this review would have been entirely too long Each Tsar s reign was so eventful, so much violence and drama I m buying this book 2017 Lenten nonfiction Buddy Reading Challenge book 311 14 18 Audio reread wanted to know how everything is correctly pronounced so bought the audibleAUDIO READ 5 of 2018 As astounding and astonishing survey of this epic imperial family, The Romanovs is an incredible and insightful read Did you know that Putin s grandfather was Rasputin s cook The horrible fate of the Romanovs made me almost physically ill at the end I of course was repulsed by their corruption, autocracy, anti Semitism, and blind devotion to the despicable yes occasionally wise Rasputin, their ignoble assassination filled me with horror and sadness The Romanov dynasty had an unlikely begi As astounding and astonishing survey of this epic imperial family, The Romanovs is an incredible and insightful read Did you know that Putin s grandfather was Rasputin s cook The horrible fate of the Romanovs made me almost physically ill at the end I of course was repulsed by their corruption, autocracy, anti Semitism, and blind devotion to the despicable yes occasionally wise Rasputin, their ignoble assassination filled me with horror and sadness The Romanov dynasty had an unlikely beginning in 1613 with Michael I being reluctantly brought in to quell the chaos that reigned in Russia at the end of the 16th C in the aftermath of Ivan the Terrible The Romanov family then ruled with a heavy hand for just over three centuries fraught with politics, intrigue, Times of Trouble, revolutions, wars, and lots and lots of massacres It was fascinating to learnabout all the Tsars most of which I had heard about and knew next to nothing about their reigns The tragedies of Peter III, Paul I, and Nicholas II and Michael II as well although he was only tsar for a day were horrific but still the violence was not out of proportion to the times they lived in I believe my favourite stories in the book were those of the greatest tsars and tsarinas Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, and Alexander I I had no idea of the incredible sexual appetite of this regime of all regimes and how interrelated they were with the British and German dynasties Nicholas II s wife Alix was related to Queen Victoria and many of the tsars and their children intermarried with German families I learned as well that many of the tsars ruled for extremely short periods of time Paul only 5 years, Ivan VI and Peter III for only a year, and both Constantine and Michael II for a few days or even less The author breaks up the Romanov period into three Acts Act I The Rise Michael I to the advent of Peter I, Act II The Apogee Peter the Great to Alexander I, and Act III The Decline Nicholas I to II to Nicholas II Michael II and each of those into Scenes that are introduced with a very useful casting which helps keep the myriad of names straight which cover the major events of a reign or reigns or towards the end, the phases of the ultimate fall of the Romanovs I really enjoyed Act II Scene 6, the Duel which narrated the great contest of the beginning of the 19th C between Napoleon and Alexander I It was absolutely fascinating and I realised to what degree that Europe was really saved from Napoleon by Alexander I because the Germans and British were completely sidelined in 1812 1813 and it was the Russian army beat Napoleon in 1814 Having read War and Peace but having as yet to have neglected to review it , I loved learning of the political history behind the meeting of these two geniuses who could have become friends they were nearly brothers in law , but for Napoleon s ambition and Alexander s pride became bitter foes I learned that Alexander did not order the burning of Moscow He had returned to Petersburg and left control and decision making in the army to Kutuzov who faced with either losing the entire Russian army after the incredible carnage of Borodino or losing the capital, chose to live and fight another day The scorched earth policy was devastating to Alexander, but it turned out to be the right decision as Napoleon squandered his time for a week in Moscow and was defeated by a combination of the onset of wintry conditions and famine and the marauding techniques of the Russian army pursuing him all the way back to Paris If Alexander had preferred Paris to St Petersberg, we might be speakingRussian words in Paris than just bistro which entered the French vocabulary during the Russian occupation of March to May 1814 The only drawback to this book is the lack of detailed maps to explain the geopolitics Otherwise, the writing is excellent as good as Montefiore s Stalin The Court of the Red Tsar which was excellent and the level of research is truly amazing I believe that Montefiore had access to many documents that have only been accessible inside the Soviet Union or just recently found which allows him to belay certain myths and legends and give the reader a truly interesting and factual history Two teenaged boys, both fragile, innocent and ailing, open and close the story of the Romanov dynasty Both were heirs to a political family destined to rule Russia as autocrats, both raised in times of revolution, war and slaughter Both were chosen by others for a sacred but daunting role that they were not suited to perform Separated by 305 years, they played out their destinies in extraordinary and terrible scenarios that took place far from Moscow in edifices named Ipatiev At 1 30 a.m Two teenaged boys, both fragile, innocent and ailing, open and close the story of the Romanov dynasty Both were heirs to a political family destined to rule Russia as autocrats, both raised in times of revolution, war and slaughter Both were chosen by others for a sacred but daunting role that they were not suited to perform Separated by 305 years, they played out their destinies in extraordinary and terrible scenarios that took place far from Moscow in edifices named Ipatiev At 1 30 a.m on 17 July 1918, in the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg Alexei, aged thirteen, a sufferer of hemophilia, son of the former tsar Nicholas II, was awakened with his parents and four sisters and told that the family must urgently prepare to move to a safer place At night on 13 March 1613, in the Ipatiev Monastery outside the half ruined little town of Kostroma Michael Romanov, aged sixteen, a sufferer from weak legs and a tic in his eye was awakened by his mother to be told that a delegation had arrived He must prepare to urgently to return with them to the capital Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Romanovs 1613 1918Simon Sebag Montefiore s The Romanovs is telling a very familiar story about a very familiar dynasty In terms of scope, very little separates this from, say, W Bruce Lincoln s The Romanovs Autocrats of All the Russias, which follows the exact same historical figures over the exact same time period But the difference here is that Montefiore has a specific focus He is not here to analyze autocratic decision making or gauge the impact of Imperial rule on Russia or the wider world, though those aspects are present Instead, he locks onto the bloody soap opera that was Russia under the Romanovs and never relents There are wars, coups, sex, revolutions, betrayals, sex, assassinations, dramatic blunders, sex, torture, catastrophic flaws, a dash of incest, countless affairs, and a real exploration of the limitations of human beings in power There is also in case I have failed to stress this enough a lot of sex You will probably want a cigarette after reading some of the love letters between Alexander II and his mistress eventual wife Katya Dolgorukaya The Romanovs begins in 1613, with the ascension of Michael I, the first Romanov tsar It ends in 1917, with the brutal murder of Nicholas II, the last Romanov tsar excluding Michael II, who served one day , along with his wife, children, and several retainers In between, there are all those things mentioned above This weighs in at 654 pages of text, and it is a decent start if you re looking to fill the hole in your life left by the end of Game of Thrones Montefiore tells this tale in novelistic fashion, structuring his narrative around scenes of dialogue and big set pieces He sticks close to his main characters and attends to their personalities, their virtues, and their flaws He peppers his prose with the kind of conversational interjections you d expect from a guy at the pub, such as his reference to Alexander I who Montefiore finds underrated by history as a metrosexual Certainly, Montefiore has a way with words For example, when discussing the many enemies of Empress Alexandra wife of Nicholas II , he states that they libelously depicted a traitorous German pornocracy with naked lesbian hellions Alexandra and Anna Vyrubova in thrall to Rasputin s throbbing phallus At another point, he gives a great thumbnail sketch of Mikhail Kutuzov, b te noire of Napoleon In the 1860s, Leo Tolstoy s novel War and Peace presented Kutuzov as an oracular personification of the soul of the Russian nation in 1941, Stalin promoted him as a genius he was neither But this prot g of Potemkin and Suvorov had vast experience, having served as governor general and as ambassador to the sultan He was wise, unflappable and sly, a nature symbolized by his eye wound bullets had passed fortuitously through his right temple and out through his right eye without affecting his judgment or shaking his sangfroid If he could no longer stay awake during a war council nor mount a horse, this priapic antique concealed two peasant girl mistresses disguised as Cossack boys among his staff And his depiction of the wanton destruction of the ex tsar, his wife, and their children, is extremely potent Alexandra was crossing herself She had always believed that she and Nicky would be, as she wrote long before, when they were newlyweds, united, bound for life and when life is ended, we meet again in the other world to remain together for all eternity As her hand was raised, Ermakov fired his Mauser point blank at her head which shattered in brain and blood Maria ran for the double doors at the back so Ermakov drawing a Nagant from his belt fired at her, hitting her in the thight, but the smoke and clouds of plaster were so dense that Yurovsky ordered a halt and opened the door to let the shooters, coughing and sputtering, rest as they listened to moans, screams and low sobs from within It is worth nothing that while Montefiore occasionally indulges glib conclusions and gleefully dwells on the sordid aspects of the story, he is an esteemed historian who has written extensively about Russia and the Soviet Union I did have some minor issues First, while Montefiore does not ignore the overall context, I found it helpful going in to have some semblance of the order and meaning of events, since the perspective is tightly tethered to the Romanovs themselves Montefiore mitigates a lot of the complexity by providing a number of family trees, to keep everyone straight, while also starting each chapter with a cast of characters, so that you can recall everyone s role Second, I was often befuddled by Montefiore s use of but and and, by which I mean, he seems to interchange them That is, but is generally used to introduce a clause that contrasts with that which has come before Meanwhile, and is used to connect things that are supposed to be taken together Long story short, Montefiore uses but to connect things that are supposed to be taken together, while also utilizing and to introduce contrasting clauses Of course, Montefiore has a PhD from Cambridge, while I am the village drunk, so maybe I m totally wrong Still, there are a lot of confounding sentences here Overall, though, these are extremely minor quibbles in an overwhelmingly entertaining book The history of the Romanovs is so dramatic that even the most pedantic, monotonal recitations still manage to provide at least a frisson of excitement And this is anything but pedantic or monotonal The Romanovs is, to the contrary, a fortunate intersection of material and author Montefiore was born to give this account He is learned and well read, has literary style to spare, and is effortlessly confident in tracing the epic sweep of the Romanov dynasty, from the extraordinary heights of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, to the tragic depths of Nicholas II and his young family, herded into a basement room by drunken, ruthless criminals masquerading as revolutionaries Montefiore draws you into this story so effectively that you will have to remind yourself that you re actually learning You have to remind yourself that all these things the good, the bad, the inexplicable actually happened