Nicholas Alexandra Author:Robert K. Massie History offers few eras richer in drama than the last years of Imperial Russia. Tsar Nicholas II, ruler of one sixth of the earth ruled over a glittering world of huge palaces, lavish balls, and incomparable luxury. For Nicholas and his golden haired wife, Alexandra--Queen Victoria's favourite granddaughter, the happiest moment of their reigh ... more »was the long awaited birth, on August 12, 1904, of a male heir, their only son, Alexis. Yet, just six weeks later fate crushed the Imperial parents with a ruthless blow. Seemingly without cause, Alexis began to hemorrhage from the navel. The diagnosis did not take long, from his great grandmother, Queen Victoria, the tiny Tsarevich had inherited a dreat disease--hemophilia.
In despair over her son't condition, Alexandra placed his fate, and tfhe fate of her husband and his empire, in the hands of Rasputin, the bizarre Siberian mystagogue whose hypnotic blue eyes brought Alexis relief from his pain. It was Rasputin who continually goaded Alexandra into resisting the clamour for reforms in Russia's government. In 1905 the Russian people had achieved a partial revolution, absolute power had been struck from the hands of the Txar with the creation of an embryo parliament, the Duma. And as World War I developed, the nation demanded not revulution but a share of responsibility in winning the victory. Swayed by Rasputin, Alexandra passionately objected to any further erosion of the Txar's power. Nicholas, reacting as husband and father as well as Tsar, gave way to her. By denying every cry for responsible government, nicholas made revolution and the eventual triumph of Lenin inevitable.
Robert K. Massie has read all the diaries, letters and memoirs left by those who played major roles in this stormy and tragic epoch, and has woven together the first detailed, imtimate acount of an Imperial family whose struggle with disease and with the disintegration of a dynasty and an empire was to have momentous consequences for the entire world. The book is brimming with absorbing descriptions of wedding parties, family outings, yaughts, costumes. A score of vivid personalities are depicted, including Rasputin, a wanderer, a satyr, and one of the most compelling figures in Russia's extraordinary history; Anna Vyrabova, the Empress's messenger and confident, Count Sergius Witte, the Tsar's cynical, brillian Prime Minister, Prince Felix Yussoupov, the wealthy aristocrat who plotted Rasputin's assassination, and Lenin and Alexander Kerensky, who came from the same Volga River town but approached revolution with radically different perspectivesa.
Cominating the story, however, is the Russian Imperial Family, the gentle charming Nicholas and the beautiful, tormented Alexandra, their four unspoiled daughters, including the one who was to become most famous--Anastasia, and the youthful Alexis, whose suffering never dimmed his tay and lively intelligence. Their fall from the pinnacle of earthly power to impresonment and death is the most moving al all tragedies.
Told with scvrupulous historical accuracy and stunning narrative power, Nicholas and Alexandra is a masterpiece of the biographer's art.« less