Introduced by the author
Illness and intrigue both proved deadly to the last Russian royal family. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Robert K. Massie reveals the tragic circumstances behind their infamous downfall.
‘It is one of the supreme ironies of history that the blessed birth of an only son should have proved the mortal blow. Even as the saluting cannons boomed and the flags waved, Fate had prepared a terrible story. Along with the lost battles and sunken ships, the bombs, the revolutionaries and their plots, the strikes and revolts, Imperial Russia was toppled by a tiny defect in the body of a little boy. Hidden from public view, veiled in rumour, working from within, this unseen tragedy would change the history of Russia and the world.’
‘A wonderfully rich tapestry, the colors fresh and clear, every strand sewn in with a sure hand. Mr. Massie describes those strange and terrible years with sympathy and understanding … They come vividly before our eyes’
For Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Robert K. Massie, Nicholas II appeared in history at the wrong time. He was a good man but a bad tsar. His empire spanned one-sixth of the earth, his subjects numbered 130 million, but he was not cut from the same cloth as his predecessors. Humiliation in the Russo-Japanese war, the 1905 Revolution, general strikes, naval mutinies and the formation of the Socialist Workers’ Party meant that political unrest in Russia rose, unchecked, like a tidal wave ready to break upon the monarchy.
But it was personal tragedy that sealed the fate of the Romanov dynasty. Nicholas’s beloved Tsaritsa, Alexandra, was a carrier of the haemophilic gene, which she passed on to their fifth child and only son, Alexis. When the dissolute Siberian mystic, Rasputin, offered the hope of a cure, the desperate Alexandra seized upon it. But any relief brought to the boy came at a price, as the exploitative Rasputin’s influence over the royal household, and consequently the country, grew to a dangerous level. The last years of Imperial Russia, full of stark contrasts between privilege and poverty, private grief and public outcry, are brilliantly evoked in this tale of lost splendour and bloodied innocence. The two revolutions of 1917 finally swept Nicholas and Alexandra from power, and within months the entire royal family, their doctor, and even their servants, had been pitilessly murdered by the Bolsheviks.
In his introduction, Massie describes how a personal interest in haemophilia led him to investigate the hidden story of Nicholas and Alexandra. Ultimately, his belief that the illness of the Tsarevich was at the heart of these world-changing events would allow him to uncover many previously unexamined sources. This edition features eight plate sections of atmospheric black and white photographs, revealing the private life of Russia’s last royal family, and is magnificently bound in cloth blocked with a design featuring the Russian imperial eagle.
Please sign in to your account to leave a review for Nicholas and Alexandra.