Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Secret Lives of the Tsars: Three Centuries of Autocracy, Debauchery, Betrayal, Murder, And Madness from Romanov Russia


Today's post is on Secret Lives of the Tsars: Three Centuries of Autocracy, Debauchery, Betrayal, Murder, And Madness from Romanov Russia by Michael Farquhar. It is 349 pages long and is published by Random House. The cover is illustrated pictures of the various Romanov Tsars. The intended reader is someone who likes history, and Russian history. There is some language, sex, and violence in this book. The story is told from third person perspective with letters, dairies, and other first hand resources for added depth. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- Scandal! Intrigue! Cossacks! Here the world's most engaging royal historian chronicles the world's most fascinating imperial dynasty: the Romanovs, whose three-hundred-year reign was remarkable for its shocking violence, spectacular excess, and unimaginable venality. In this incredibly entertaining history, Michael Farquhar collects the best, most captivating true tales of Romanov iniquity. We meet Catherine the Great, with her end-less parade of virile young lovers (none of them of the equine variety); her unhinged son, Paul I, who ordered the bones of one of his mother's paramours dug out of its grave and tossed into a gorge; and Grigori Rasputin, the “Mad Monk,” whose mesmeric domination of the last of the Romanov tsars helped lead to the monarchy's undoing. From Peter the Great's penchant for personally beheading his recalcitrant subjects (he kept the severed head of one of his mistresses pickled in alcohol) to Nicholas and Alexandra's brutal demise at the hands of the Bolsheviks, Secret Live of the Tsars captures all the splendor and infamy that was Imperial Russia.

Review- These stories about the Romanovs are funny, heartbreaking, tragic, and blood-thirsty. I liked a lot about this book but the biggest thing that I liked was that Farquhar traced each ruler from birth to death. He does not overwhelm the reader with all the little details of their lives but in the end I have a good basic grounding about their lives and reign. This book is very well written and the research is excellent. Farquhar not only gives a good grounding in the Romanov family but in Russia as well. He talks about why Russia was and is the way that it is to this day. Farquhar clearly loves his job and it shows in his work. The passion to detail, the little footnotes for added favor, and the end notes for further reading everything is just wonderful. The footnotes do what I think that footnotes should do which is just add a little extra something to the narrative. I will be picking up another of his books to read.

I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.