In 19th and 20th century Russia, eighty-five percent of the population lived in poverty while 1.5 percent of the population held all wealth and lands. The tsar and his family, the Romanovs, were part of this minute percentile. Though the Romanov family had held the Russian throne for nearly 300 years, Nicholas II was a weak leader, ruled by superstition and, some say, his headstrong wife. Fed up with life in squalor, tensions between the lower and upper classes continued to rise, ultimately resulting in a bloody revolution. Fleming presents this story of the last Russian tsar chronologically, allowing readers to be fully swept up in the drama, intrigue, betrayal, and utter failure of the Romanovs.
I LOVED this book! I have to admit some bias because I already was fascinated by the Romanovs, so it wasn’t a stretch for me to give this piece a try. But it was still better than I expected. The story of the fall of the Romanovs has it all: murder, betrayal, wealth, poverty, a creepy guy — everything. It was especially interesting to see the wealthy nobility contrasted against the poverty of the peasants. The contrast illustrated perfectly the disconnect between the two countries that eventually led to the downfall of the emperor (tsar). The book itself looks long and text-heavy, but don’t be fooled. It reads just like a novel once you get going. I do wish the pictures had been set into the text instead put on plate pages in two sections of the book, but other than that, the book is really great. Try it for yourself if you are a fan of history and/or insane family stories. Seriously.
*YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults, Finalist, 2015
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