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The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and…

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia

by Candace Fleming

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Linda's review: http://blog.threegoodrats.com/2014/12/the-family-romanov.html

Candace Fleming has written an excellent, accessible history of the last Romanov family and the upheaval in Russia in the early 1900s through the first World War and the revolution. The Romanovs' story is juxtaposed with primary source documents from "the 99%," as it were: farmers, peasants, factory workers, the unemployed and starving.

I'm not convinced that even if Nicholas had seen firsthand evidence of his people's suffering that he would have truly understood it and acted to alleviate it, but in any case, he refused to see it or believe reports about it at all. When workers went on strike, he responded not with compromise but with violence. If he had been educated properly in affairs of state, his reactions might have been different, but his father didn't bother to educate him or let him gain any experience. Nicholas and Alexandra, in turn, didn't place much stock in education for their own offspring: four girls, and finally the necessary male heir, Alexei, all of whom grew up apart from the court and government.

A lot of senseless tragedy could have been averted if Nicholas had chosen to emulate his grandfather, the progressive Tsar Alexander II, or even if he had paid as much attention to events as his own father, but instead Nicholas took a head-in-the-sand approach, and Alexandra believed in leaving everything up to God. After converting to the Russian Orthodox church, Alexandra was particularly prone to putting her faith in icons and dubious "holy men" such as Rasputin.

There was much I didn't know about Russia during this period, and this book filled in many gaps. I didn't know that the Romanov family lived outside of the capital city during Nicholas' rule, or that they were moved to Tobolsk and then Ekaterinburg before they were executed. This whole episode in Russian history raises questions about the importance of individual personality and belief in divine right.


Secluded as he was in the country [at Tsarskoe Selo], tucked away from the happenings in the capital, Nicholas quickly lost touch with people and events. His and Alexandra's life together was ' a sort of everlasting cozy tea-party,' remarked one historian, fine for an ordinary private citizen, but not for the ruler of Russia. (34)

"The weakness of one man and one woman...Oh, how terrible an autocracy without an autocrat!" (Duma member, 1915-1916, p. 150)

"...it's like water off a duck's back, all is submission to God. How else can I explain...such total blindness and deafness?" (cousin Sandro after speaking to Tsar Nicholas and Empress Alexandra, 160-161) ( )
  JennyArch | Dec 17, 2014 |
The Family Romanov is a non-fiction account of the last tsar of Russia and his family.

Tsar Nicholas II story begins around 1881 in the book. His father found him to be weak and never prepared him to be tsar. When his father died, Nicholas became tsar, and it doesn't seem like he wanted to be the supreme leader of Russia, and he certainly wasn't prepared. He wanted the accolades, love, devotion, and money from his people, but he cared little to nothing for them. As heartless as he was toward his peasant people, he loved his wife and family. Expected to produce an heir, they had four daughters before producing a son. Alexei was ill, which had to be hidden.

Tsar Nicholas II reigned in a precarious time period. The people of Russia were tired, poor, and hungry. Nicholas was incapable and/or unfeeling enough to do anything about it. He believed that peasants happily worked and enjoyed their simple lives. It never occurred to him that they were hungry and over-worked. In addition to being too removed from reality, Nicholas and his wife Alexandra were besotted by a man named Rasputin. His name is famous in history, and now I know the details. He was a charlatan and had Nicholas and especially Alexandra completely in his whim. When WWI broke out, the Russian army had little. Nicholas had little ability to run a country much less a war, and his wife allowed Rasputin to run the government by choosing the leaders. The people had been unhappy for a long time, and the final straw was finally drawn. The tsar was overthrown.

I enjoy history and I found this book interesting. I learned details of events in history that I just had a fuzzy knowledge of. I blame Nicholas and Alexandra for much of what happened to the people and to his family in 1917. It's worth your time to read. ( )
  acargile | Nov 1, 2014 |
Author Candace Fleming expertly weaves together many different threads to form a complex, tragic tapestry of Russia and its last royal family. Fascinating and compelling from cover to cover. Excellent. ( )
  EuronerdLibrarian | Oct 6, 2014 |
Below is my review of the audiobook version of The Family Romanov. Although the print version has the added benefit of photographs (the Romanovs were very fond of photography, taking hundreds of family photos), the audiobook does a wonderful job of setting the right mood for this tumultuous time in history.

Candace Fleming brings her stellar research and nonfiction storytelling skills to the fate of Russia's last imperial family, the Romanovs, including young Anastasia. Narrator Kimberly Farr adds energy and soul to their story, conveying a range of emotions as she recounts the highs and lows of the family's life. She expresses contentment as the close-knit family enjoys their secluded palace Tsarskoe Selo and desperation whenever hemophilia threatens the life of the young tsarevich, Nicholas. Primarily, however, she conveys a mix of sadness and bewilderment as the royal couple cluelessly, callously, and repeatedly blunders in dealing with the struggling, and often starving subjects in their vast empire.

The story of the Romanovs cannot be told without the larger story of tsarist Russia including Rasputin, Lenin, and the brewing Bolshevik movement. In sections titled "Beyond the Palace Gates," Russian-accented narrators read period newspaper articles, diaries, and correspondence, providing a fully immersive experience of a time, a place, and a tragically doomed family.

Intersted adults, young adults and older children will welcome this well-documented and engrossing work.

http://shelf-employed.blogspot.com ( )
  shelf-employed | Oct 5, 2014 |
Candace Fleming has written several books including Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart and The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary. Fleming's latest book tackles one of the most famous families in history: The Romanovs.

This book covers the early years of Nicholas II--the days of wealth, power, and privilege--and leads to the ultimate downfall of not only him, but his whole family. However the book not only covers the Romanovs, it also takes a look at what it was like for the common man/woman living in Russia during this tumultuous time period. It has first hand accounts as well as many photographs of the Tsar and his family.

The Romanov family has always interested me. Partly because of the mystery of Anastasia, and partly because this was such a crazy time in Russian history. Candace Fleming does a superb job of not only giving us a glimpse inside the royal family, but also what the people of Russia were going through at the time. It's hard for your heart not to break as you read this book.

I don't usually describe biographies as a page turner, but this book definitely is! It has all the makings of a great piece of fiction. This book is geared toward younger readers, but I would recommend this to anybody who loves history.

Read more at http://www.toreadornottoread.net/2014/08/review-and-giveaway-family-romanov.html... ( )
  mt256 | Sep 1, 2014 |
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