The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world's surface. How did one family turn a war-ruined principality into the world's greatest empire? And how did they lose it all?
This is the intimate story of 20 tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. 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 and peopled by a cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries and poets, from Ivan the Terrible to Tolstoy, from Queen Victoria to Lenin.
To rule Russia was both imperial-sacred mission and poisoned chalice. Six tsars were murdered, and all the Romanovs lived under constant threat to their lives. Peter the Great tortured his own son to death while making Russia an empire and dominated his court with a dining club notable for compulsory drunkenness, naked dwarfs and fancy dress. Catherine the Great overthrew her own husband - who was murdered soon afterwards - loved her young male favourites, conquered Ukraine and fascinated Europe. Paul was strangled by courtiers backed by his own son, Alexander I, who faced Napoleon's invasion and the burning of Moscow, then went on to take Paris. Alexander II liberated the serfs, survived five assassination attempts, and wrote perhaps the most explicit love letters ever written by a ruler.
The Romanovs: 1613-1918 climaxes with a fresh, unforgettable portrayal of Nicholas and Alexandra, the rise and murder of Rasputin, war and revolution - and the harrowing massacre of the entire family. Written with dazzling literary flair, drawing on new archival research, The Romanovs: 1613-1918 is at once an enthralling story of triumph and tragedy, love and death, a universal study of power and an essential portrait of the empire that still defines Russia today.
©2016 Simon Sebag Montefiore (P)2016 Orion Publishing Group
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"A very interesting story told poorly"
No because as much as I love the Russian history depicted in this book, the narrator was reading the book far too fast. it quite often sounded like I had accidentally increased the speed of the narration on the Audible app.
It is somewhat disappointing since the narrator sounds incredibly bored even when it is discussing some of the most exciting parts of the history be they murders or intense political plans for succession or peace after a long war.
The comparison might seem odd but the closest comparison I can think of is SPQR: A History Of Ancient Rome. The reason is simply that it takes an interesting and engaging historical story and makes It sound boring. In fact SPQR is more interesting as its author attempts to give their opinion on events rather than simply reel them off like it is required for an assignment.
I'm not sure about a film but I have seen the author discuss various topics in television documentaries for the BBC. Those are much more engaging because it is clear that the author finds the topics personally fascinating and he attempts to explain why events happened or what could have happened if things had been different.
"Disappointing in form and narration"
As it stands it is simply a litany of dates, atrocities and unmemorable Russian names
He spoke far too quickly and indistinctly, making it very difficult to follow
Among the thousands? And not any of the Romanovs, surely.
"Classic history book."
Loved it. Very enlightening history of last Royal family. So much murder and treachery both home and abroad. And the legacy of their deaths that makes current political situation in Russia what it is now, tyrannical.
Easy listen to a very complex story. Beautifully told, I might have found it a challenge to read, but on this format, splendid.
"Not really overwhelmed"
I have heard a lot of good about Montefiore and started reading his Jerusalem sometime ago. To my great surprise the book that should be very interested and seemed well narrated turned out to be a challenge. The same goes with this one - it should be very interesting and somewhat it is not.
Well, it is not I guess a narrator's fault as there was a person responsible for pronounciation listed in credentials but believe me, the Russian names in this audiobook are hadly recognisible for someone who is a Slav (I'm actually a Pole and I was taught Russian for 8 long years). The person responsible for pronounciation certainly did a lousy job. And I'm really curious what Khrushchev would sound like in this interpretarion
The most interesting parts for me were those concerning Alexander II and Alexander III. These two tsars are the ones I know least about, so I had to take Montefiore's text at face value - and then it was quite enjoyable.
The most boring grisly book I have ever read. A long list of names too boring to remember and details of atrocities involving ( among others ) the killing, dismembering, cooking and eating of children. Is this what I want to hear in a history book? No.
"So hard to listen to"
The reader swallows his words and speaks too quickly. I am spending so much time wondering what he has just said that I can't concentrate on the actual story. I'm going to have to give up on it. Life's too short.
"just an executive summary of an amazing period"
the subject is amazing. How could people endure this sytem so long.
a detailed view into the less glorious habits and most basic instinct of the Russian people of the time. Fascinating but not really important for someone intersted in the history of the time.
more than matched, went too quicly for such a story
I did not expect this from Sebag Montefiore, after all his other books. The reader was much too quick; I think that the audiobook would be more convincing if the reader was to pause more often. Possibly he did not do justice to the author.
Great book learnt a great deal about Russian history very violent in parts Thank you.
"Excellent: History of Russian Czars"
I don't usually choose non-fiction; & my relationship with 'history' per se has mostly been a troubled one. But not as troubled as the history of the Czars it turns out. This account of the Romanovs, from medieval times to the last Century is just what it says it is. Plus - in many places it's jaw-dropping and eye popping, for its facts: the amount of alcohol, opulence, violence, ambition, talent, and sex.
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