NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the national bestselling author of Stalin: An "epic history on the grandest scale” (Financial Times) about the most successful dynasty of modern times, a family who created the world’s greatest empire—and then lost it all.
"An essential addition to the library of anyone interested in Russian history.” —The New York Times Book Review
The Romanovs ruled a sixth of the world’s surface for three centuries. How did one family turn a war-ruined principality intoc the world’s greatest empire? And how did they lose it all?
This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. Simon Sebag Montefiore’s gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence, and wild extravagance.
Drawing on new archival research, Montefiore delivers an enthralling epic of triumph and tragedy, love and murder, that is both a universal study of power and a portrait of empire that helps define Russia today.
Montefiore (Jerusalem: The Biography), a popular novelist and historian of Russia, describes this extensive account of the rise and fall of the Romanov dynasty as a "blood-spattered, gold-plated, diamond-studded, swash-buckled, bodice-ripping, and star-crossed... chronicle of fathers and sons, megalomaniacs, monsters, and saints." But it also reveals the author's imaginative gift for storytelling and research acumen. From the Romanov dynasty's inauspicious beginnings in a remote monastery to its violent end in a provincial basement, the family held the Russian crown for just over three centuries, dramatically expanding Russia's borders and laying the groundwork for what would become the U.S.S.R. and the modern Russian Federation. Montefiore addresses questions of great import as well as more prosaic but equally illuminating details of life in the Romanov regime, examining, for instance, how Catherine the Great went from being "a regicidal, uxoricidal German usurper" to becoming one of Russia's most successful rulers and "the darling of the philosophes." Echoes of history resonate through the pages and shed light on the ruthless and autocratic tendencies that have remained salient elements of Russian politics. Montefiore's compassionate and incisive portraits of the Romanov rulers and their retinues, his liberal usage of contemporary diaries and correspondence, and his flair for the dramatic produce a narrative that effortlessly holds the reader's interest and attention despite its imposing length.
I could not read fast enough! This fact packed, easy to read history is wonderful. I love the way the writer tied historical data to today's political scene. This book gave me insight into times and people not well covered in history classes. The only bad thing is that I finished the book. I want more!
The Romanovs for all the faults had a remarkable existence. I couldn’t finish this book fast enough. While my reason for reading was aimed more toward the last tsar, understanding the whole history of the dynasty helped me reshape my view of the ill-fated Tsar.
Fans of Wier, Fraser (Marie Antoinette)
Reads like non-fiction. Incredibly easy to get lost in. The details are hard to look away from. A must read for lovers of historical fiction.