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The Fate of the Romanovs Paperback – Oct 1 2005

3.5 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (Oct. 1 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471727970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471727972
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 4.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 939 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #857,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The family members of Nicholas II, Russia's last tsar, were executed in July 1918, soon after the Bolshevik Revolution-and the speculation as to what exactly happened hasn't died out during the past 85 years. In this comprehensive volume of one of history's great intrigues, independent scholars King and Wilson stoke the flames of controversy with a creative theory: Lenin and the other Bolshevik rulers in Moscow didn't give the orders to kill the tsar's family, as has been believed. This wasn't out of any sympathy for Nicholas and his family-in fact, the authors point out that Lenin was perhaps the epitome of realpolitik, allowing little emotion in his political decisions. Using an intriguing reading of the Russian archives, the authors argue that Lenin preferred a trial to an execution for fear of antagonizing the Germans, whom he wanted to appease in order to consolidate his own grip on power. Instead, it was local Bolsheviks in Ekaterinburg, where the royal family was held, who made the decision to go ahead and execute Nicholas and his family. The executions were blamed on Lenin because it served as a convenient myth for those lamenting the fall of the Romanov dynasty. While the book is somewhat longer than necessary, those fascinated with the case will find it worthwhile.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Perhaps no twentieth-century event has been as shrouded in enduring mystery and speculation as the massacre of Czar Nicholas and his family in Ekaterinburg, Siberia, in 1917. This riveting political and personal drama has been the subject of countless books, movies, documentaries, musical compositions, and Internet Web sites. The almost cultlike devotion to the Romanov legend and legacy has been fueled by the fact that the entire imperial family--including innocent children--were summarily executed by a regime purporting to usher in a new era of equality and morality. In an attempt to separate historical fact from sentimental fantasy, King and Wilson have taken advantage of the glut of documentation made available by the collapse of the Soviet Union, fashioning a comprehensive reexamination of the 78 days of the Ekaterinburg captivity, the murders themselves, and the 1991 exhumation of the bodies. Utilizing fresh information and cobbling together an abundance of primary and secondary source material, the authors engage in a complex game of historical detection that ultimately results in a controversial new perspective on an old but ever-captivating topic. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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By A Customer on Oct. 10 2003
Format: Hardcover
For anyone who has read Pipes, Figes, Radzinskii, or Massie, this book will seem less than scholarly and subject to many questions. The authors claim to have discovered new "facts" surrounding the fate of the Romanovs which in many cases, seems less like documented evidence and more like speculation based on alleged statements or reconstructed "records." Readers should also be forewarned that some sort of animus or agenda seems to percolate beneath the surface of the book. This begins with the dedication page which offers a quote from Mark Twain (a man who wrote a number of notoriously idiotic things about the Russian Monarchy and led a sort of personal campaign advocating its abolition) suggesting the need to "de-mythologize" history and the past. In step with this program, the authors paint "full-blooded" portraits of an earnest, idealistic Lenin gone bad because of his brother's execution at the hands of a tyrannical Imperial government; a poor, hardworking Yakolev, a family man and conscientious patriot, caught up in a swirl of confusion; Red Army guards, salt of the earth men, trying to forge a new and better country. All of this sort of drivel is set in contrast to a bumbling, anti-Semitic Tsar, an hysterical Tsarista, and a family of sad, almost forsaken children. All of this has the "unintended" (?) effect of making the Romanovs guilty in the eyes of some sort of universal justice, absolving the good Bolsheviks that were just trying to make the world a better place.
Additionally, the authors are rather selective and/or incomplete in their portrayal of events and issues.
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Format: Hardcover
It appears that the latest tendency in books concerned about Tsar Nicholas II and his family (apart from Robert Alexander's outstanding 5 star novel 'The Kitchen Boy') is to take advantage of the retrograde -- in this case, the rumors, speculations and memoirs written not too long after their horrific murders - and put a modern spin on it. Since a whole generation of Romanov buffs has not been able to get a hold of certain out of print books (much less read anything that had been written in Russian), it seems everything old is new again in 'The Fate of the Romanovs'.
Two agendas side by side form the book's raison d'etre. One, as the authors assert, is to 'shatter long held beliefs' about the Imperial Family. The other is to plant or water any seeds of doubt about what happened on the night of their murder, thus whetting readers' appetite for the planned sequel about those that have claimed to be one of the Grand Duchesses or the Heir. When faced with readers possessed of a good enough memory and enough powers of discrimination, King and Wilson fail on both counts.
Two cases in point. First: It is claimed that the executioners did not discover any undergarments that concealed jewels on Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna because of her having been disgraced in her mother's eyes. This is only the sort of supposition typical of this book. It is easy to recall that at the time her sisters were sewing those fortified clothes, she was with her mother and father, separated from them. Therefore, a far more logical reason exists for no such thing being found on Maria.
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Format: Hardcover
Long at odds with what I assumed to be the authors' approach to the Romanovs, and not 100% convinced of some assumptions made in "The Fate of the Romanovs," I would be completely remiss not to stand up and salute them for the remarkable level research and thoughtfulness that went into their work. King and Wilson have striven to take a fresh hard look beneath the overwhelming layers of well-established myth, erroneous assumptions and outright misinformation surrounding the end of the Romanovs. And it ain't pretty. There is nothing to admire about Nicholas, and Alexandra was not a wonderful mother, especially to her daughters. Their imprisonment was not in some important respects what we've always been told it was. The personal repercussions of the Romanov's downfall on several of the family members and their retainers turns out to be surprisingly different from what we had assumed previously, whereas the murder is revealed to have been every bit as gut-wrenching as most of us imagined. Indeed, all through the book, previously unknown or overlooked details are brought to light and introduced into the context, often masterfully disabusing one of long-held erroneous notions.
Whether I agree or not with every path they took along the way to the book's completion, I applaud Mr. King and Ms. Wilson for telling the truth, as they see it, to the best of their remarkable abilities. They have indisputably raised the benchmark on scholarly treatment of this subject, and those of us who disagree with this or that point of theirs will have to do an enormous amount of research in order to properly challenge the authors' painstakingly-earned credibility.
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