This is an older book, but it is still to this day, THE book to read if you are at all interested in the story of Nicholas and Alexandra. Their story is more fascinating, more interesting that any bestseller fiction could ever hope to be. This is no dry, for professors only, type history book!
Massie did a good job telling the story of the last tsar and tsarina of Russia. The book is well-written and is not a "just the facts" telling but it is more of a tragic tale of what happened to the leaders of a nation that were so out of touch with the people of that nation.
This is a history of the last Czar and Czarina of Russia. Being a history buff, I enjoyed it immensely, and have read it more than once. If you would like to see the faces of the people behind the fall of the Russian empire, pre-Soviet Union, try this.
As another reviewer put it, this story has everything: drama, murder, mystery, romance, war. And it's all true! As usual, Massie manages to distill Russian history into an intriguing narrative. I couldn't put this book down, and I feel that I came away from it with a much better understanding of Russian and early Soviet history.
I've had this book since it was first published in 1968. I remember getting it as a selection from a book club that I belonged to not long after graduating from high school. And it has remained on my shelves since then through several moves with me knowing that I would eventually get to it. Well finally, 50 years later, I did! And I'm sorry that it took so long - this was the very compelling and tragic story of the last Tsar of Imperial Russia, Nicholas and his family as they struggle to rule an immense nation while also dealing with caring for a young son, Alexis, with hemophilia.
This was really about as good as you can get with a nonfiction historical biography...really almost like reading a novel with a very compelling story line. It gives a very good background on the Romanovs dating back to the first Romanov Tsar, Michael and includes short histories of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, etc. Then to Tsar Nicholas II and the turbulent times of World War I. Some of the supporting cast include Queen Victoria who was the grandmother of Alexandra; Kaiser Wilhelm, a cousin to Alexandra and distant cousin to Nicholas; King Edward VII; George V; Lenin and Trotsky; and Rasputin, the monk who was able to insinuate himself into the royal family by providing some relief to Alexis's hemophilia. Nicholas was a rather mild-mannered individual who was made Tsar at a young age when his father died unexpectedly. His wife Alexandra came to rely implicitly on Rasputin who she felt was the salvation of not only her son but of the autocracy of the Russian Empire. In the end, this led to its downfall when she relied on Rasputin to make choices as ministers for the government based on whether they believed in him rather than on their skills. Alexandra was left to make these choices when Nicholas was called to lead the army during WWI. I came away feeling genuine pity for the family. They truly believed they were chosen by God to rule, and that autocracy was the only appropriate system of government for Russia.
I learned a lot about Tsarist Russia and the revolution from reading this epic history. Although I knew basically what happened to bring an end to the empire, this book really fleshes out the details and for anyone interested in Russia and its history, I would highly recommend it.
He was Tsar Nicholas II, shy, handsome ruler of one-sixth of the earth and more than 120 million Russian people. She was Alix, the golden-haired German princess. Deeply in love, a perfect storybook couple, they presided over a glittering world of opulent palaces, lavish balls, and incomparable luxury. Then their cherished son Alexis was born. His hemophilia led to their tragic entanglement with the evil monk Rasputin and finally swept them from their fairy-tale existence to the dark cellar room where the entire royal family, including the famous Anastasia, would face their pitiless executioners.
Moving, tragic, unforgettable, here is Robert K. Massie's account of an extraordinary imerial dynasty. A doomed empire, and a revolution that would inexorably change the world forever.