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Publisher's Summary

On the centenary of the death of Rasputin comes a definitive biography that will dramatically change our understanding of this fascinating figure.

A hundred years after his murder, Rasputin continues to excite the popular imagination as the personification of evil. Numerous biographies, novels, and films recount his mysterious rise to power as Nicholas and Alexandra's confidant and the guardian of the sickly heir to the Russian throne. His debauchery and sinister political influence are the stuff of legend, and the downfall of the Romanov dynasty was laid at his feet.

But as the prizewinning historian Douglas Smith shows, the true story of Rasputin's life and death has remained shrouded in myth. A major new work that combines probing scholarship and powerful storytelling, Rasputin separates fact from fiction to reveal the real life of one of history's most alluring figures. Drawing on a wealth of forgotten documents from archives in seven countries, Smith presents Rasputin in all his complexity - man of God, voice of peace, loyal subject, adulterer, drunkard. Rasputin is not just a definitive biography of an extraordinary and legendary man, but a fascinating portrait of the twilight of imperial Russia as it lurched toward catastrophe.

©2016 Douglas Smith (P)2016 Macmillan Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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A Lot To Chew On

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The book was quite long, but then, this is a definitive biography, so make sure you don't bite off more than you can chew! (I nearly did.) The only difficult part was I had to take a break in the middle of the book and came back to it a couple weeks later; it took some time before I could get back into the story and remember all the complex names and places and situations.

What did you like best about this story?

I have been to Russia, and to some of the locales mentioned in this book - the story came alive and transported me back to my time there, and the sense of history it gives.The detail was amazing. To nearly a dizzying effect.

Have you listened to any of PJ Ochlan’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but I thought he did a fine job.

What else would you have wanted to know about Douglas Smith’s life?

N/A

Any additional comments?

The book is awesome, so please don't let my ambiguous comments turn you off - just be sure that you are WAY interested in Rasputin.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Stephanie
  • Borger, TX, United States
  • 06-11-17

incredibly thorough work. irritating narration.

The narrator's voice was grating and numerous Russian names were mispronounced which took away from the overall positive experience of the book itself.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

This was just way way way too long. Too detailed. I made it through the first half but then started skipping several chapters at

This was just toooooo much detail. It's like I was listening to a dissertation on the life of the guy.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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He was a man, and this is his story at last

Very well-done book, both the writing and the performance.
This pulls the veil away from so much of the hyperbole that has been Rasputin for 100 years. Not a quick listen, but a good one.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ben
  • Tucson, AZ USA
  • 01-14-17

An excellent academic biography

This is a perfect example of what an academic biography is supposed to do: she'd well-documented new light on an old subject. It was riveting.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The Rascal Rasputin

This is a very intense and emotional story about one of the most dubious characters in history. A deluded person this Rasputin and who was able to mislead so many others.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Like listening to Siri narrate a book

I'm a frequent reader of history, but this book seemed singularly without academic foundation. To make it worse, the narrator spoke in a machine-line monotone that was unnatural and stale. Couldn't make it through to the end.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Excellent, Exhaustive, but Never Exhausting!

I strongly disagree with a previous review describing Ochlan’s narration as “monotone.” It is calm but never monotone, and I suspect the reviewer is simply unused to the genre. This is hardly a dull story, much less a particularly demanding one. Smith is exhaustive in his research and in his analysis of the myths surrounding Rasputin, many of which have become fixed in the public mind as fact but are in fact inventions Smith traces to their sources.

Of particular interest to antisemitism nerds like me are the ways in which so many—whether they demonized him or defended him—invoked the pervasive myth of a global “Jewish conspiracy” made popular in another enduring creation of the Tsarist secret police: the antisemitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Just as noteworthy was Rasputin’s own modest change of heart on the subject of the Jews, some of whom he aided and defended, while Nicholas II and Alexandra remained, like virtually everyone in Christian Russia, “preternaturally antisemitic.” It is in this context of reflexive, pervasive antisemitism that we should also see the conspiracy-minded and paranoid worldview that gripped Russian society at the end of the Romanov dynasty, convinced as it was that “dark forces” were to blame for the crises the nation faced. This worldview united Rasputin’s followers and enemies alike. Above all, it permitted Russians as varied as Romanov family members and peasants to reduce a complex situation to a simple one and to avoid personal responsibility for Russia’s state.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Overwhelming

Very comprehensive, but this does not need to be 33 hours long. Too much! Edit!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Slooooow narrator

Ran it at 1.5x to achieve a relatively normal pace. I have never heard a narrator this slow.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful