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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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This was a fascinating book, giving you a real sense of who the Romanov's are and what was going on in Russia during this time. Candace Fleming is a great storyteller, and the photographs help complete the picture. Fleming really helps the reader understand this era in Russian history and why the Romanov's fell. ( )
  Steininger | Jul 24, 2015 |
A first-rate chronicle of the life, times, and violent end of the Russian Empire's last royal family. ( )
  Sullywriter | May 22, 2015 |
Let me begin by saying that I could not wait to read this book. I looked all over my local bookstores and could not locate a copy. When I found that our library had a copy, I could barely contain my excitement. Candace Fleming did not disappoint.
Fleming takes a look at the life of the last Romanov family, from their beginning to their horrible end. Fleming also takes a look at what Russia was like during the last Tsar’s reign. Fleming uses a variety of primary sources to aid in her telling of Russian life and the Romanov rule.
In Bibliography section, Fleming tells what led her to writing this book. She sought to find the answers to a variety of question like, “How did this happen?” and “How did this rich...beautiful family related by blood or marriage to almost every royal house in Europe end up in a Siberian cellar?” (p. 256). Fleming answers these and many other questions.
In the final section of the book where the murders are mentioned, I found myself crying for this family and what they endured. Yes, they were nobility that many Russians blamed for their problems. But at the end of the day, they were a family; a father, a mother, three sister, and a little brother.
One aspect that I really liked was the pieces “Beyond the Palace Gates”, these pieces gave the reader a view of what Russian life was like for those who lived in the most horrible conditions of the country, the peasants. These pieces allow one to see the huge gap between those few who were lucky to live the live of a noble and the majority of people who lived in poverty.
If I could change one thing about this book it would be the pictures. I would have preferred to have the pictures within the chapters they were in reference to. Fleming does indicate which pictures go with which chapters; personally I would have liked to see them while I was reading.
 This is a book anyone interested in Romanov history should read. ( )
  kmmoore | May 3, 2015 |
I did not want this book to end, it was a fascinating, enlightening, and horrifying read. Having taken Russian history, studied abroad to St. Petersburg for two weeks, and been a huge fan of the animated movie, Anastasia, I STILL learned a ridiculous amount! This book was chock full of amazing facts, details, and accounts and was impossible to put down! This nonfiction novel chronicled the entire family history of the last Romanov family, the political tensions in Russia, and even had great first hand accounts from peasants, workers, and other Russian citizens to contrast with life in the palace. I believe this novel painted a very accurate, albeit not flattering, account of the last imperial family, but the account will still make readers sympathize with untimely demise of the last ruling family. It was simply fascinating, it pulled accounts from diaries, letters, official documents, and more to create a complete picture of the huge divide between the royal family and Russian subjects that left the country ripe for civil war. I was lucky enough to have visited many of the sites mentioned: The Winter Palace, Peterhof, Tsarskoye Selo, St. Peter and Paul fortress (where I was able to see the final resting place of the Romanav family), and St. Petersburg. Listening to the audiobook also added an extra dimension, because many of the accounts were narrated by Russian voice actors which really helped bring the story to life for the reader (or rather listener). I give this a well deserved five star rating. It's a must read for any history buffs or those curious about the tragedy of the end of the Russian Tzars. Simply fantastic!!! ( )
  ecataldi | Apr 28, 2015 |
Candace Fleming's nonfiction novel The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, & The Fall of Imperial Russia brings to life the rise of rebellion in Russia through the biographical telling of the fall of the last Romanov family. Starting with the cover of the book, everything about this text implies it's been thoroughly researched - from the support of famous reviewers such as Kirkus and Publishers Weekly to the photos depicting both the Romanov family and their subjects. Opening to the end of the book, Fleming has provided the reader with an extensive list of primary sources (4 pages worth) along with general sources used and the author's own account of her journey in search of answers. The primary sources she uses consists of diaries, letters and other documents that were believed to have been destroyed until the collapse of the Soviet Union. When introducing her sources, Fleming addresses two issues: (1) the fact that most accounts were originally written in Russian or French, leading to variation in translation and (2) most accounts have two dates because, during Nicholas' reign, Russia used the Julian calendar rather than today's Gregorian calendar. She also mentions the calendar issue at the beginning of the book in a short informational blurb that explains terms or ideas that would be helpful when approaching the text (i.e. tsar and how Russian nomenclature works). There's also an extensive index listed at the back of the book following some online resources about the Romanovs and quotation notes. The book's credibility is further strengthened by the fact that it won this year's Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children.

Fleming's book is chronologically organized into four parts; Part One: Before the Storm, Part Two: Dark Clouds Gathering, Part Three: The Storm Breaks, and Part Four: Final Days. Each section is then further divided into chapters and short vignettes providing insight into lives outside the Romanov family. I would say that this book actually tells three stories: (1) the rise and fall of Nicholas II's reign, (2) an historical account of Russia from 1903 to the 1920s when Lenin was in power, and (3) an observation of the average peasant's life in Russia during the early 20th century. In other words, Fleming doesn't just depict one side or the other in a favorable light; by inserting vignettes about peasant life such as "Lullabies for Peasant Babies" (40), she also shows readers the stark contrast between how the Romanov family lived versus the average person in Russia. Not only that, but through the use of quotes from primary source documents, she humanizes Nicholas and his family, especially when describing his emotions during major events in his life (e.g. the birth of his children in chapters 2 and 3 and the celebration of three centuries of Romanovs in chapter eight). In other words, she tries to eliminate a bias by showing both sides of the coin along with using a no-nonsense style of writing; any time she sensationalizes something, she merely acts as the mouthpiece for a figure from that time period.

As a future high school ELA teacher, I would definitely consider having my students read parts of this as a supplementary text if we were reading Russian literature (e.g. Crime and Punishment). The story line is engaging and Fleming never spends too much time on one topic, which keeps the pace going and, I feel, keeps the student reading. This is done by the author's use of sub-topics in each chapter, which helps to break the text into more manageable chunks. The Romanov children, although born into wealth, are depicted as kids that students could relate to, especially when Fleming describes how much they hated schooling and the pranks they played on their tutors (88-92). However, this book is definitely more geared towards older students (complex language structure and some graphic images such as Rasputin's "battered corpse" and the site of the Romanov family murder), so I would recommend it for grades 9 and up. Based on what I saw on Destiny (UNO's Children's Library's search engine), there didn't seem to be any books on the Romanov family, so I think this would make a great addition to the collection. ( )
  vroussel | Mar 16, 2015 |
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