Start by marking “Nicholas and Alexandra” as Want to Read: In this commanding book, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Robert K. Massie sweeps readers back to the extraordinary world of Imperial Russia to tell the story of the Romanovs’ lives: Nicholas’s political naïveté. Nicholas and Alexandra: An Intimate Account of the Last of the Romanovs and the Fall of Imperial Russia is a biography of the last royal family of Russia by. Nicholas and Alexandra and millions of other books are available for instant access. Nicholas and Alexandra: The Classic Account of the Fall of the Romanov Dynasty Paperback – February 1, In this commanding book, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Robert K. Massie sweeps readers.
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Editorial Reviews. Review. “A larger-than-life drama.”—Saturday Review “A moving, rich book [This] revealing, densely documented account of the last. Praise. “A larger-than-life drama.”—Saturday Review “A moving, rich book [ This] revealing, densely documented account of the last Romanovs focuses not. In spite of those shortcomings, Nicholas and Alexandra is still a captivating book. Whatever their failings as leaders might have been, Nicholas.
There are instances in the book where it can be argued that too much detail is given and it only serves to slow the pace of the narrative. Passages like this are strewn all throughout the first part of this book and come across as nothing more than meaningless filler.
No review would be complete without the mentioning of a particular bias Massie has towards this subject. In fact, as mentioned earlier, the role that hemophilia played in the fall of the Romanov dynasty is the main point that is considered and elaborated on by Massie.
It is a very enjoyable, intriguing, insightful, and fascinating read about an era of history that most people, including the author of this review, have probably not been introduced to before. Although there is overwhelming detail in some instances, it does not detract enough from the book to make it unworthy of such a claim. Email address: Your email address will not be published.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Nicholas and Alexandra Author: Robert K. Massie speculates that things would have turned out different for Russia if little Alexis hadn't been born with hemophilia. If Alexis were well, then Rasputin couldn't have come to power, Alexandra would not have been convinced by Rasputin to fight for complete autocracy, and Nicholas might have allowed Russia to become a constitutional monarchy. It's an interesting bit of speculative history, which I could easily see being true.
It's obvious that the imperial family had no business running Russia, which had more than its fair share of problems. However, it's also obvious that the Romanovs didn't deserve to be brutally executed.
Nicholas and Alexandra presents a balanced portrait of the last Russian monarchs, and I recommend the book for anyone interested in Russia.
A romantic, tragic and heart wrenching story told by a master storyteller. Excellent book. This review can also be found on my blog! It was mainly because of Anastasia, but I just love the story. When I got to their deaths, I did start crying. But, onto the book! I thought that it had really good pacing. It never felt This review can also be found on my blog! It never felt like I was being bogged down in a certain period of time while I was reading. It all kept moving at a swift pace. In all honesty, I was surprised that the book skipped over the kids so much.
I think that was because Massie put out that his illness was a major part of their downfall. The book was also well-balanced. It never felt as if either person took up too much time or space on the page. Nicholas and what he did were evenly put down, then there was time for Alexandra.
Then there was time for the both of them and both of their reactions. Again, that was mainly about Alexei and his illness. Because, honestly, he was a very sick boy and it was a wonder that he lived as long as he did. However, I do wish that the book had taken a different spin on the Rasputin story. The book was originally published in and I doubt that much has changed in the text since that point.
His death also cracks me up because of how excessive it had to be and the fact that nothing they tried killed him. BUT, the Rasputin relationship kind of annoyed me. And his wife was very unpopular even before Rasputin came onto the scene.
Still, this was a good book. I just think I would like a book that took a different stance and was a bit more updated with current thought than this one.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Masterful in explaining the death of Rasputin, the rise of Lenin and red v white. Love, Sex and Power. Sep 04, Parvathy rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: History Lovers, Truth Seekers. Being not much of a fan of non fiction literature I was a little reluctant when my mother recommended this book to me and told me that this book was one of a kind.
But all my reservations was removed the moment I came across this line. What part does "After all, the nursery was the center of all Russia's Trouble" this quote by Sir Bernard Pares was the line that caught my attention when I decided to go through this biography of the last royal family of Russia by historian Robert K.
What part does a nursery play in determining the fate of a nation and that to a nation such as Russia?. But this book illustrates that this is exactly what happened in the case of Russia and the last of the Romanov dynasty.
Before reading this book my knowledge of Russia and its Imperial family was confined to what I have learned in my history classes and read from popular fiction books. Songs like Rasputin by Boney M and movies like 'Anastasia' have only done its part in increasing my misconceptions about the royal family.
I never had before read the inside account about the lives of all those historical characters that has played their part in shaping the world as we know it. Suffix to say this book was all I needed to set things straight. Having a son diagnosed with hemophilia Massie's attempt to learn how other families dealt with the problems raised by this unique disease turned in to curiosity about the response of the parents of the boy who was the most famous hemophiliac of all, the Tsarevich Alexis, the only son and heir of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of all of Russias and his wife Empress Alexandra.
The birth of the Tsarvich more than anything else determined the later course of Russian History. The effort to deal with the agonies inflicted on her son by this disease the Empress turned to Gregory Rasputin, the Siberian starlet and whose influence on the royal family and through them on the government of Russia helped to bring about to the fall of the dynasty.
Weaving together the vast wealth of information left in the form of diaries, letters and memoirs by the men and women who were intimately involved in this drama Massie brings to life the story of the last Romanov Family, mainly that of Nicholas II not as a Tsar that lead to the downfall of Tsarism but as man, a husband and a father. A few see him as the symbol of fading age and even idolize him while others insist that he was "Bloody Nicholas" stupid and shallow.
But he was a good man with personal charm, gentleness, love of family and Russian patriotism too overwhelming to be denied. But the author himself quotes that the tragedy of Nicholas II was that he appeared in the wrong place at the wrong time. Caught in a web Nicholas paid for his mistakes by forsaking everything he held dear. Thrust with responsibilities he never wanted in the first place.
Fated to play a the part history has reserved for him Nicholas II was an exceptional man. The author through this book empathizes with a father who is forced to play out a role of the father of a handicapped boy while trying to do justice to the million who sees him as their father. This book indeed is a tribute to the man who tried to do what was right always but ended up making mistakes all along the way.
But this is not just a story about hemophilia but so much more than that. It is a love story with all the political intricacies, a story of self sacrifice and outstanding courage, it is the story of a family whose simplest actions was brought under public scrutiny, story of those human beings whose actions would have been deemed normal and worthy of understanding if not for the positions they occupied.
This book shows the other side of what we presume as a royal and luxurious life and should not be missed by anyone who seeks the truth. Jan 03, Rob rated it liked it.
Massie is a talented writer, and it was easy to be drawn into the world he evokes in this polished dual biography. We feel for the peculiar upbringings of children in homes where czars and dukes struggle to raise normal families in the rarified air of late 19th century European aristocracy. The complex political and dynastic problems of the era are deftly drawn.
And we feel close to the doomed and awkward couple at the center of the maelstrom. However, in his efforts to present a corrective to hi Massie is a talented writer, and it was easy to be drawn into the world he evokes in this polished dual biography.
However, in his efforts to present a corrective to history's judgement of the Romanovs, Massie lapses into hagiography. The monstrous injustices of the Czar's regime are glossed over. His sympathetic portrayal of Alexandra is at odds with the antipathy she aroused in most of those who had contact with her.
And ultimately, the central argument of the book - that the Romanovs made bad decisions out of concern for their son - remains unconvincing. We can see why Alexandra would come to rely on Rasputin to give her emotional support during the ongoing crisis of the heir's survival. What Massie glosses over is why she took such an active - and catastrophic - role in governing Russia during the Great War.
And more importantly, why did Nicolas let himself be dominated by her, even though she was entirely ill-equipped to handle such responsibilities? It seems clear that an honest appraisal of the relationship between Nicolas and Alexandra under the strain of the final years of regime would cast them both in a bad light; she the haughty and foolish meddler, he the weak-willed enabler.
So Massie who surely knows better , lets sympathy get the better of him, and leaves those crucial questions unasked. In the end, a fine read, but biased and spotty history.
This was a really fascinating portrait of the last Romanov couple. Nicholas and Alexandra's lives are presented in exhaustive detail - from their first meeting to the months before their execution - and Massie succeeds in both humanizing them and absolving them of some of the blame for the collapse of the autocracy. Nicholas, Alexandra, and their son Alexis get distinct personalities, but the four Romanov daughers tend to blend together. It's partially because so much time is devoted to Alexis's This was a really fascinating portrait of the last Romanov couple.
It's partially because so much time is devoted to Alexis's hemophilia. Massie ties everything to the unfortunate condition of the Russian heir, including Alexandra's relationship with Rasputin and her subsequent fall in popularity.
His big "what if" questions center around the disease. He makes sure to say that he doesn't ascribe the fall of the Russian empire to one sick boy, but he does maintain that hemophilia had drastic effects on the family and on the empire. The descriptions of Russian court life are mind-blowing. The chapter explaining the Romanov succession is also hilarious. I'd like to get drunk with Peter the Great. Rasputin's daughter could also come. Apparently she ended up as a lion tamer in Hollywood.
Oct 28, Hadrian rated it liked it Shelves: A novelistic account of the decline and fall of the last Tzar and his family. Symbols of a world gone by. A perfect storm of events conspire to bring them down, and you feel quite sympathetic for the Tsar and his family, as they appear to be another set of victims.
An interesting account of the lives of Nicholas and Alexandra - a little too sexist at times, it was written in the late 60's - and it seemed a bit too re-hashed to me. If you know hardly anything about their lives and infamous death, this would be a great choice. If, however, you do know the basics, this might be a bit too much drawn-out information to keep your attention rapt.
Just starting college and thinking of a history degree with a specialization in Russian history, I picked up Massie's biography of the last of the Romanovs with some interest. Except for learning something about hemophilia and some dirt about Rasputin, I was very disappointed. The book might be enjoyed by someone entranced with the lives of "royals" and not concerned about those last aristocrats who actually exercised state power by virtue of birth. Knowing much of anything about Russian history Just starting college and thinking of a history degree with a specialization in Russian history, I picked up Massie's biography of the last of the Romanovs with some interest.
Knowing much of anything about Russian history on the eve of their revolution makes this sophomoric study almost insufferable. The movie version of this popular book came out in Like the book, it was pretty bad. View all 9 comments. The last years of Tsarism in Russia were tumultuous plagued by the venom of deceit and the stench of malicious intrigue as events surrounding it appeared like a well thought conspiracy between destiny and circumstances, cementing the course of its tragic path towards an impending doom The tame and kind Nicholas II became the tragic figurehead, whose death can be attributed as becoming of a sacrif The last years of Tsarism in Russia were tumultuous plagued by the venom of deceit and the stench of malicious intrigue as events surrounding it appeared like a well thought conspiracy between destiny and circumstances, cementing the course of its tragic path towards an impending doom The tame and kind Nicholas II became the tragic figurehead, whose death can be attributed as becoming of a sacrificial lamb for an ideology that ushered in Communism , reverberating with so much power in the 20th century, not just in Russia, but the whole world.
The ironic thing was that love in its most divine form displayed through the sheer humility and submission of Nicholas II played a pivotal role in the destruction of the Imperial Russia as this same fervor of love surrounded his timid image from the onset as a loving husband to Alexandra , a devoted father to his children and a Tsar with a burning patriotism to serve his forlorn Mother Russia. His marriage can be uniquely differentiated from the normalcy bequeathed in a royal matrimony for his was blessed with a true passion to his wife, whose connection and influence in him would contribute to his unerring downfall in the end.
The handsome Nicholas II at This placid persona of the dethroned Tsar is what is emitting from the very words of Robert K. Perhaps, so much so in contrast from what history has known to describe cruelly a leader deposed by his own people that taints his gentle image with a mark of an ill suited monarch to ever seat on the throne of Russia, whose sheer weakness and softness have led to the swift end of the Russian aristocracy.
Yet, this somewhat display of excessive relent on the part of Nicholas II foretells a deeper character invisible in a world with so much need of violence to exist, for his utter display of submission and humility even in times of agitation can be considered weakness in the eyes of man, but in truth, the only true strength in the eyes of God.
The union of Nicholas and Alexandra from the very beginning of their love story had an ominous cloud hovering around them as it sealed the tragic fate of the whole Romanov family. Alexandra , who was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria , inherited from the Queen a certain disease called hemophilia , which she had become an unknowing carrier, passing it on to his only son, Alexei. Their struggle to save the life of their only son and heir, attaching them both somehow unconditionally to the mystic figure of Rasputin , had become an ineluctable trap for their own death.
With all these portentous circumstances enclosing the life of Nicholas II , it is with great pain finishing the book, knowing full well what lies ahead. What makes it even more difficult is the obvious sympathetic inclination of Massie towards him. The more that you read through, the more you get attach to him and his family, the more you see the true light in his character, which makes one realizes how totally different he is from the other European monarchs of his day and even of the past, rising far above from the avaricious, power hungry men who replace him in Russia.
If he survived the atrocious murder committed against him and allowed to govern once more, the world would have seen a different Russia. It would have been the prophetic realization of Dostoevsky 's own claim to Russia's role in Universal redemption, but perhaps, it is not meant to be, for if the truth be told the world is still immersed in material idealism, making it unready for any form of Celestial submission, then and now.
View all 4 comments. Sep 10, Scarlett rated it it was amazing Shelves: This book blew me away. It was the most emotional book for me this year, I was disturbed and shaken for days and weeks after reading it. Also, I immersed myself in reading many works about Russian history, such as Peter the Great: His Life and World , also by Robert K.
My mistake of not reading it sooner was based on a notion that this was a love-story like many out there, about Cleopatra and Caesar, Elizabeth and Richard. I don't really like them, they never feel well-researched and th This book blew me away. I don't really like them, they never feel well-researched and they are usually melodramatic. This one, however, was the result of many years of research.
If there are some things that are well-known about the Romanovs, those are the stories of Anastasia, the mysterious princess, Rasputin and the tale about Romanovs' assassination at the end of World War I. Even knowing just these facts is enough to get a feeling of empathy towards this royal family. Nobody should watch their loved ones die, no matter their possible political sins. Nicholas and Alexandra came from very different backgrounds, Russia being the Northern orthodox country and Alexandra belonging to the Lutheran Church.
As all Russian empresses, she had to convert to Orthodox faith and after that, you can enjoy reading about one of the most famous fanatics in history. This woman was a bigger believer than the pope in this case, Patriarch and this doesn't even begin to describe how crazy she was in that matter. Their marriage was very special, and you can either admire Alexandra for being clever and crafty or you can hate her for being extreme and short-sighted. Nicholas is represented as passive and kind, but firm in all the wrong situations.
I was changing my mind all the time because Robert K. Massie did a great job of painting these complex people. One thing that is certain about Alexandra is that she was a great mother, which had been the moving force of her actions that led to disaster. Nicholas and Alexandra doesn't focus on the children, but there are many other books about the four daughters. Young tsarevich Alexei was the one that stood out the most here and the impact his illness had on his family was immense.
It was deeply saddening to hear about what this family went through, I felt sorry not only for him, but for his parents. He suffered from haemophilia, which is described in details, and that is why your heart can be broken when you learn about his solitary days and the way he spent his life. Rasputin, the priest that Alexandra kept as a close confidant and adviser, seemed like the main villain in the book. I am not sure about that, but I definitely enjoyed almost sinister influence and tense atmosphere that came with his presence.
Just his rise to power alone is interesting topic for a book, but here, it is just a peak of events. This is a monster-book, you can't read it in one sitting, although I tried. I was happy that it took me longer to read this, because I was dreading the ending and my feelings after that. It was absolutely fascinating. Rich, detailed characterization drew me completely into the lives of these people. If you are looking for a way to familiarize yourself with a chapter of modern history that is extremely important, this is the right choice.
If you think you can handle gruesome details and you enjoy epic history movies, I believe this is the perfect book for you. The portraits that Massie paints in this book of the last emperor of Russia and his wife are both sad and unflattering. Alexandra, although a tender wife and devoted mother was a liability as a political advisor and c The portraits that Massie paints in this book of the last emperor of Russia and his wife are both sad and unflattering.
By the end of the book, the reader can appreciate the isolation of Tzar Nicholas and feel the helplessness of the imperial family to the tragic climax when the winds of change swept them away. The internal situation in Russia in late 19th and early 20th century combined with the concurrent international political turmoil the need to change the old regime into modernity requiring both political and economical reforms, the imprudence and arrogance of the ruling class, the demands of the industrial revolution, the questionable appointments to critical foreign government and Duma posts, the start of WWI for which Russia was unprepared and its prolonged timeframe etc.
Massie is an extraordinary non-fiction writer bringing to life the splendor of the jeweled nobility and their refined palaces and estates contrasting them to the squalor and poverty of the peasant life and the horror of the battlefields. Portrait of a Woman which I highly recommend, nonetheless it was a worthy read for me.
Recommended to readers interested in the history of Russia. Apr 28, Duffy Pratt rated it liked it Shelves: Massie takes a deep look at the family life of Nicholas II, and the book retains this focus throughout. It's not surprising, then, that he finds the causes of the collapse of the Romanovs in that family life. He writes well, portrays his characters well, and I almost download his central idea: Maybe a bigger bastard as Tsar cou Massie takes a deep look at the family life of Nicholas II, and the book retains this focus throughout.
Maybe a bigger bastard as Tsar could have forestalled the revolution, or altered its result. But I'm not so sure. Three great dynasties in Europe all fell within a couple of years of each other. I tend to think that bigger forces were at work than the family matters that are the subject here.
But the family matters, on their own, are pretty fascinating, and Massie does a really good job of making these people understandable and human. And the story itself is pretty compelling and tragic. Amazing story which reads like fiction and is hard to put down. Fascinating tale brilliantly told. Never realized how poorly informed I was before about Russian history - always thought that the Russian Revolution was an inevitable response to oppression of the poor but now see that it was a result of a series of coincidences which no-one could have foreseen when Nicholas became tsar.
If this was a novel the character of Rasputin would seem pretty unbelievable, but sadly it all really happened. Onl Amazing story which reads like fiction and is hard to put down. Only read this so that I knew a bit about Russian history as my daughter is doing it for her exams this year but now I'm hooked and keen to read some more on the subject. Dec 05, Gary rated it really liked it. Epic story of the last Tsar of Russia The movie based on the book is quite good too.
Oct 14, C. Burrough rated it it was amazing. Five decades after its publication, this book still glows of those hallmarks that would later earn American author and historian Robert K. Massie a Pulitzer Prize.
His interest in this last handful of ruling Romanovs was triggered by his son having haemophilia, as had Tsar Nicholas II's son, Tsarevich Alexei. The author's love of his subject sparkles from start to finish. Massie's immaculate detail and empathic biographical style is on a par with that of the great Lady Antonia Fraser, who not unt Five decades after its publication, this book still glows of those hallmarks that would later earn American author and historian Robert K.
Massie's immaculate detail and empathic biographical style is on a par with that of the great Lady Antonia Fraser, who not until two years later penned her definitive Mary, Queen of Scots This extraordinary craftsmanship alone is worth the five stars I rated it with.
With access now to material still classified in , today's reader might be forgiven for dismissing parts of this work as outdated and incomplete propaganda, notably penned by an American during his country's Cold War with Russia. And yet, penned by a man who would devote most of his life to studying Russia's Imperial family, we sense this book's accuracy and personal impartiality.
The nowadays obvious information gaps made no difference to me, as a novice reader of this time and place. I learnt from what was there, remaining captivated and enthralled throughout. Its lack of political bias is admirable. Sure, Massie paints vividly the ugliness of rabid Bolshevist extremism over the towering bloodline autocracy it usurped, but his compassionate treatment of that toppled autocracy is generous for a writer from the democratic thinking U S of A.
The international lead up to World War I is insightful and informative. There would surely be no neutral way of depicting Germany's almost deranged Kaiser Wilhelm II in the context of this history, but thankfully he is no central player in this biography. I came to like and understand the human side of these misunderstood historical figures, the Romanovs, otherwise passed down to us under bitter revolutionary prejudice as personifications of an icily detached, staunchly autocratic elite.
Their abominable treatment at the hands of Russia's revolutionaries is truly heart wrenching. Tsar Nicholas we see as a mild mannered man, perhaps weak in certain areas of rulership, but a good, kind, decent husband, father and son. It has been all too easy for anti-imperialism to downplay the sheer enormity of his empire and the lifelong commitment he inherited then handed over when facing defeat. He believed he was doing what was right for Russia. For all his Imperial droopiness, sincerity, integrity and likeability are his redeeming qualities.
This cousin of King George V of the United Kingdom, to whom he bore such a striking physical resemblance, was a gentle, pious man who lived for his family and country. Their children are beautifully, poignantly drawn, especially their only son, Alexei, without whose tragic hereditary illness probably passed down from Queen Victoria there would have been no Rasputin in this picture and perhaps therefore no violent rulership overthrow, so possibly no Bolshevist state.
The 'holy' yet sinister Rasputin is an enigmatic character shrouded in mystique and debauchery, but not without usefulness or heart. He will always intrigue readers, as will poor Alexandra's desperate support for him, the only person seemingly able to keep her tiny boy from death by bleeding. That contentious relationship between the Tsarina and the hard living peasant priest was callously used an excuse to trigger the almost inevitable revolution.
Whilst the film has become stylistically dated, Massie's book remains untainted by the passage of almost fifty years. I intend to read it again someday, which is the highest compliment I can give any book.
Before I do that, I feel compelled to read Massie's update and elaboration of this work, The Romanovs: I somehow doubt, however, that for all its newer material, that follow up work could have come even close to his original, in sheer quality and readability. As an ardent devotee of the historical biography genre, I cannot recommend this special treat highly enough to my reading peers.
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