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Robert K. Massie (1929–2019)

Author of Nicholas and Alexandra

18+ Works 13,507 Members 292 Reviews 32 Favorited

About the Author

Robert Kinloch Massie III (1929-) is an American historian, author, Pulitzer Prize recipient. He has devoted much of his career to studying the House of Romanov, Russia's royal family from 1613-1917. Massie was born in Lexington, Kentucky. He spent much of his youth in Nashville, Tennessee and show more currently resides in the village of Irvington, New York. He studied United States and modern European history at Yale and Oxford University, respectively, on a Rhodes Scholarship. Massie went to work as a journalist for Newsweek from 1959 to 1962 and then took a position at the Saturday Evening Post. In 1969 he wrote and published his breakthrough book, Nicholas and Alexandra. Massie was the president of the Authors Guild from 1987 to 1991, and he still serves as a council member. While president of the Guild, he famously called on authors to boycott any store refusing to carry Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. His title Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman made The New York Times Best Seller List for 2012. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Includes the names: MASSIE ROBERT K., Robert K. Massie


Works by Robert K. Massie

Associated Works


17th century (49) 18th century (108) 19th century (63) 20th century (128) biography (1,589) biography-memoir (52) Britain (65) British history (63) Catherine the Great (83) ebook (88) Europe (108) European History (203) German History (56) Germany (142) history (2,096) Kindle (89) military (85) military history (177) monarchy (51) naval (99) Naval History (138) Nicholas II (84) non-fiction (987) Peter the Great (102) politics (58) read (76) Romanov (104) Romanovs (192) royalty (243) Russia (1,248) Russian (115) Russian History (566) Russian Revolution (113) to-read (1,033) tsar (59) Tsars (56) unread (70) war (65) world history (54) WWI (655)

Common Knowledge

Date of death
Country (for map)
Versailles, Kentucky, USA
Place of death
Irvington, New York, USA
Yale University



Docent-MFAStPete | 143 other reviews | May 27, 2024 |
What an incredible book -- probably the best book I've read this year. It reads like a novel, but it is biography as well as a history of 20th century Russia. This is the story of the famous Romanov family, Nicholas, the last Tsar of Russia and his Empress and children. I had never heard anything particularly good about this family except for their impeccable taste in Fabrege jewels. But in fact, they were a wonderful and very loving family, one that, despite power and wealth, had more than its fair share in hardship and tragedy. Nicholas, although an autocrat, was a gentle and humane person. I don't think Russia improved any under dictatorship of the proletariat, which was neither gentle nor humane.… (more)
dvoratreis | 49 other reviews | May 22, 2024 |
In the All-Russian contest “Name of Russia”, aimed to elect the most notable personality in Russian history by voting via the Internet, radio and television Peter I finished fifth. Ahead of another person who radically altered the destiny of Russia after him – Vladimir Lenin. The guy who brought here Christianity – Prince Vladimir I – and the guy responsible for the downfall of the USSR - Mikhail Gorbachev – didn’t even make it to Top 50 (though Boris Yeltsin did). This illustrates the importance of Peter’s figure even in contemporary Russia, 300 years after his untimely death.

This was my second book by R. Massie, first being a wonderful tome on Catherine II another of only three monarchs so styled since the establishment of tzardom in Russia in XV century. What I can surmise upon reading these two books – on Catherine and Peter – the author loved Russia. I would go even further proposing that he was a very pleasant person to be with. The way he depicts characters, no matter how repulsive their deeds are, normally doesn’t provoke rage or any other negative emotions. Probably you’d feel sorry and upset by person’s bad behavior. And if a person possesses some commendable traits or did something good, you’d end up his Facebook fan for life. Mr. Massie probably was adored by his students. He’s not only a great narrator, but a very savvy psychologist too.

Time and again you will run into some tangential figures main protagonist meets. Their names may sound remotely familiar, but all of us are a bit rusty on school history, aren’t we? Don’t panic, you’ll be provided with a brief, but yet sufficient enough description of a person, age, event, trade, country, etc…

While reading it, I simultaneously read and watched some Russian historians talking on Peter I. It looks like Mr. Massie covered every interesting story and fact of Tzar’s life. Bravo! His warmness to Russia still baffles me, if we factor in the time of writing – late 1970s – Cold War’s apogee! It’s as apolitical treatment of history as it should be. An example for all historians.

P.s. In spite of making it to top 5 Russia’s historical heroes public opinion on the Tzar is still divided.
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Den85 | 33 other reviews | Jan 3, 2024 |
A veeery detailed account. But it looks like the author sympathizes with his heroine.
Den85 | 143 other reviews | Jan 3, 2024 |



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