On the centenary of the death of Rasputin comes a definitive biography that will dramatically change our understanding of this fascinating figure
A hundred years after his murder, Rasputin continues to excite the popular imagination as the personification of evil. Numerous biographies, novels, and films recount his mysterious rise to power as Nicholas and Alexandra's confidant and the guardian of the sickly heir to the Russian throne. His debauchery and sinister political influence are the stuff of legend, and the downfall of the Romanov dynasty was laid at his feet.
But as the prizewinning historian Douglas Smith shows, the true story of Rasputin's life and death has remained shrouded in myth. A major new work that combines probing scholarship and powerful storytelling, Rasputin separates fact from fiction to reveal the real life of one of history's most alluring figures. Drawing on a wealth of forgotten documents from archives in seven countries, Smith presents Rasputin in all his complexity--man of God, voice of peace, loyal subject, adulterer, drunkard. Rasputin is not just a definitive biography of an extraordinary and legendary man but a fascinating portrait of the twilight of imperial Russia as it lurched toward catastrophe.
In this monumental and soul-shaking biography, historian and translator Smith (Former People) demystifies the figure of Grigory Rasputin a century after his gruesome murder in 1916 at age 47. He portrays the Siberian peasant and Romanov family confidante as earthy, complex, and innocent of the worst claims against him: that he was a German spy, royal seducer, and de facto head of state. Smith relies on diaries, letters, police files, and memoirs to dispel long-held rumors about Rasputin's relationship with Czar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra. With a Dostoyevskian flair for noir and obsession, Smith exposes the base motivations behind Rasputin's enemies including Duma members, church fathers, noble families, government ministers, and heads of secret police while being frank about his subject's love of Madeira and women. Smith expertly handles the intricacies of the salacious scandals that enveloped the empire in anti-Rasputin hysteria and that eerily presaged the fall of the Romanovs in 1917. Displaying commendable detective work and a firm understanding of the Russian silver age and the synod, Smith articulates even the most obscure cultural nuances with fluidity, sometimes slowing the pace but never losing his focus on his worthy and mesmerizing subject. Smith's depravity-laden history of turn-of-the-20th-century Russia hinges on his insightful readings of myth and motive, and their tragic consequences.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I read this book and I it has a lot of detail about Russia and the Romanovs. I think that it is a book to buy for your own personal library.
I am a love to read about the fall of the Monarchy of Russia. It's a tragic part of history. Rasputin played a large role. I am of the mind that Rasputin has been vilified by historians. Think about the fake news on Facebook, it's the same thing. He was a flawed man with odd behavior. I agree with the author. Rasputin was not as scandalous as previously portrayed. My low rating is due to the delivery of this argument. I am fully aware the author was trying to make the best possible argument, but it gets tedious. It's worth the read, but just be prepared. He is also slightly more proRasputin. I did not consider it over the top.