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Publisher's Summary

"Michael Farquhar doesn't write about history the way, say, Doris Kearns Goodwin does. He writes about history the way Doris Kearns Goodwin's smart-ass, reprobate kid brother might. I, for one, prefer it." (Gene Weingarten, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and Washington Post columnist)

Scandal! Intrigue! Cossacks! Here the world's most engaging royal historian chronicles the world's most fascinating imperial dynasty: the Romanovs, whose 300-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 endless 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 Lives of the Tsars captures all the splendor and infamy that was Imperial Russia.

©2014 Michael Farquhar (P)2014 Random House Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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A good introduction to the Romanovs

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I think that this book was a nice overview of the Romanov family. I am in no way any sort of expert in this area, but I feel like I was given a good taste of the families history. It has mad me want to learn more about this dynasty in Russian history. I am sure if you are a history buff you may know all the stories of the Russian royalty in this book and probably more. For those who may not know the history this is a wonderful starting point.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Russia Out Loud

If you could sum up Secret Lives of the Tsars in three words, what would they be?

Having just return from Russia and walked in the palaces of St.Petersburg and Moscow I found this book fascinating. A truly grand performance.<br/>

What did you like best about this story?

That it was true.

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

No

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No just facination of Russian history

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Beware

Very disturbing ending. Very graphic. Too much information. Listen at own risk. It bothered me and I am not usually squeamish.

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great book great narrator

loved it I thought this was a great historical rendition of what happened with the czars in Russia it funny and sad and crazy all at the same time I'd read it again

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  • Leslie
  • Victoria, BC, Canada
  • 11-17-15

Not quite as secret as I'd hoped...

But pleasant enough listen. My only complaint would be the ending, when I felt like the author was trying to make us feel sorry for the Romanovs after spending so much time detailing how they rushed headlong into a disaster so many others saw coming.

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Caution... gruesome. Dead babies. Ugh.

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Those with a strong stomach and no children of their own might enjoy it more.

Has Secret Lives of the Tsars turned you off from other books in this genre?

Maybe

What does Enn Reitel bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narration was superb - I just didn't enjoy the work.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Secret Lives of the Tsars?

Well, pretty much all of it.

Any additional comments?

I guess I wanted more debauchery and less murder. I had to stop listening because it was just horrible death after horrible death. If that's your thing, go for it. I'm returning it.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Nick Pice
  • 02-08-17

Incredible - Dark - Horrific - Inspiring

Gripped from chapter one and I didn't want chapter 18 and the finale to ever come, I've long loved the mystery of the Russian Tsars, of the mighty cossacks, mad monk Rasputin and the beauty of St Petersburg - I wasn't disappointed, this book has it all. I never realised the 300 year reign of the Romanov dynasty was so full of madness, so much death and that the final end of Nicolas & Alexander and their children was so gruesome.

it's a long book, it takes some serious listening but it's well recorded and while I don't remember the names of every character, I feel I know a lot more than I did.

Rasputin, what a man he was! No one Boney M made a song about him, he deserved one for all the madness in his short life - "Ra Ra Rasputin, lover of the Russian Queen".... and quite a few more besides it seems?

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  • Teresa Cooper
  • 10-12-15

The Tsars.

We'll written and narrated. The book showed me many things about the Tsars I hadn't known and reminded me of many facts I knew. A good book that's not hard to listen to. Recommended for historians and non historians alike.