On the sweltering summer night of July 16, 1918, in the Siberian city of Ekaterinburg, a group of assassins led an unsuspecting Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, his wife, the Tsarina Alexandra, the desperately ill Tsarevich, and their four beautiful daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, into a basement room where they were shot and then bayoneted to death. This is the story of those murders, which ended three hundred years of Romanov rule and set their stamp on an era of state-orchestrated terror and brutal repression. The Last Days of the Romanovs counts down to the last, tense hours of the family’s lives, stripping away the over-romanticized versions of previous accounts. The story focuses on the family inside the Ipatiev House, capturing the oppressive atmosphere and the dynamics of a group—the Romanovs, their servants, and guards—thrown together by extraordinary events. Marshaling overlooked evidence from key witnesses such as the British consul to Ekaterinburg, Sir Thomas Preston, American and British travelers in Siberia, and the now-forgotten American journalist Herman Bernstein, Helen Rappaport gives a brilliant account of the political forces swirling through the remote Urals town. She conveys the tension of the watching world: the Kaiser of Germany and George V, King of England—both, like Alexandra, grandchildren of Queen Victoria—their nations locked in combat as the First World War drew to its bitter end. And she draws on recent releases from the Russian archives to challenge the view that the deaths were a unilateral act by a maverick group of the Ekaterinburg Bolsheviks, identifying a chain of command that stretches directly, she believes, to Moscow—and to Lenin himself. Telling the story in a compellingly new and dramatic way, The Last Days of the Romanovs brings those final tragic days vividly alive against the backdrop of Russia in turmoil, on t
A gritty, day-by-day narrative of 14 days leading to a massacre
By S. McGee - February 9, 2009
Anyone picking up this book is likely to have read some of the other literature on the Romanovs or the Russian Revolution, notably the Robert Massie biography, Nicholas and Alexandra and the follow up volume, The Romanovs: the Final Chapter. This is an altogether bleaker narrative -- if you can imagine such a thing -- that revolves around the day-to-day lives of the Romanovs, their captors and, at a distance, Lenin, George V and others who helped determine their fate.
The format is straightforward: Rappaport uses each of the last 14 days of the lives of the former Tsar and his family (the unpopular Empress Alexandra, their hemophiliac son, Alexey, and four daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia) as the focus of a chapter. In each chapter, she explores the state of the debate about the Tsar's future or the issues that were... read more
Three and a half stars...
By Cynthia K. Robertson - March 8, 2009
Since my high school years, I have been enthralled with the story of Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov and their tragic story. Every year or so, I need a Romanov-fix, and Helen Rappaport provided just that with her new book, The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg. There is much to like in this book, but also, a few detractions.
There are hundreds and hundreds of books on the last tsar and his family. Many of them just rehash the same information, over and over again. Rappaport tries to give a more in-depth look at the last 14 days that the Romanovs were in captivity in Ekaterinburg. She gives just enough background for those who may not know the entire story. Some of her descriptions and observations are first-rate. In describing Nicholas, "how had this devout, insistently dull and dogmatic little man, whose primary interest was family life, come to be demonised as the repository of all that was corrupt, reactionary and despotic about the Romanov... read more
Must read for Romanovophiles
By Paul E. Richardson "Russian Life" - February 19, 2009
Fascination with the murder of the Romanov family in July 1918 shows no sign of waning. This new book takes a micro approach, focusing in on the last 13 days of the family's claustrophobic, tense life in Yekaterinburg.
Rappaport fills out her story with vivid detail and superb characterization, building the tension and drama to its brutal climax, sparing no stomach-turning details. She draws us in so well, that we very nearly smell the dusty drapes and taste the sweat hanging thick in the air of that tragic Siberian summer. We can't stop reading, wondering what will happen next, even though we know full well what happens next.
Meticulously researched and intimately drawn, this is a must read for anyone interested in the sad fate of the Romanovs, or for anyone interested in plumbing the depths of human depravity, witnessing the nobility of calm resignation, or reliving the tragedy that foretold the executions of... read more
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