Saturday, May 9, 2009

Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert Massie

I barely remember studying this horrifying little piece of history in school, and I do mean BARELY.  I vaguely recall the whole Anastasia-craze news.  None of that will prepare you for what Massie's investigation has suggested really happened.  

Mr. Massie traces the downfall of Russian autocracy from Tsar Alexander III's failure to properly prepare his son for the throne through the tragic execution (and horrifying disposal) of Tsar Nicholas II, his wife and five children.

There are many excerpts from letters, diaries, and missives from the time that paint a much different portrait of Nicholas II than history has often granted him.  He was a soft spoken, kind hearted, confrontation avoiding man born much too early for his time.  

Massie makes the assertion that he would have made a much better British monarch than he did a Russian autocrat and I found his evidence to be right on the money with that.  I wonder how Russia would be different if Rasputin had never come along or if Nicholas II were in charge of the country now?  

Imperial Russia is a delight to read about (the Faberge section alone makes the whole book worthwhile) but the fate of this family is definitely sobering.  The copy I read the 1967 edition so I plan to get the recent edition and see what has been added to the introduction and epilogue.

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