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Publisher's Summary

In July 1991, nine skeletons were exhumed from a shallow mass grave near Ekaterinburg, Siberia, a few miles from the infamous cellar room where the last tsar and his family had been murdered 73 years before. But were these the bones of the Romanovs? And if these were their remains, where were the bones of the two younger Romanovs supposedly murdered with the rest of the family? Was Anna Anderson, celebrated for more than 60 years in newspapers, books, and film, really Grand Duchess Anastasia? The Romanovs provides the answers, describing in suspenseful detail the dramatic efforts to discover the truth.

Pulitzer Prize winner Robert K. Massie presents a colorful panorama of contemporary characters, illuminating the major scientific dispute between Russian experts and a team of Americans, whose findings, along with those of DNA scientists from Russia, America, and Great Britain, all contributed to solving one of the great mysteries of the 20th century.

©1995 Robert K. Massie (P)2011 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Masterful.” ( The Washington Post Book World)
“Riveting... unfolds like a detective story.” ( Los Angeles Times Book Review)
“An admirable scientific thriller.” ( The New York Times Book Review

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting but Sad.

The first half of this book pieces together a credible story of what actually happened to the Romanov family and of how their remains were finally discovered after team after team of scientists, amateur archeologists, the KGB and just plain adventurers looking for their 15 minutes of fame spent fortunes and sometimes lifetimes searching for them.

It then goes on to describe the sickening in-fighting between teams of scientists and politicians from any country or region with even the most tenuous claim to have an interest in them fought over the bones. It was pretty disgusting and I was amazed how people with so much education could stoop so low. The few scientists who did have integrity were almost buried in the avalanche of mud and had to fight tooth and nail to protect their reputations. As I said, disgusting.

The second half of the book was pretty much devoted to Anna Anderson, the Polish peasant woman who was able to perpetrate such a long running and fairly creditable hoax for so long. I Her story was very good though and I guess it must be pretty easy to convince people who really want to be convinced of almost anything.

At the time this book was written the bones of the Romanov family were still laying in a morgue in Moscow while the Government fights over where and how to bury them. Sad!



3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Grant
  • Arlington, VA, United States
  • 01-19-13

Interesting but fringe history

This book covers the execution of the Romanovs, the discovery of the real burial site, the extended and contentious process of verifying the identity of the remains, the various Romanov impostors (notably Anna Anderson), and the issues involving the theoretical succession of the czarship among the actual surviving royals. It's an account of what occurs in the wake and backwaters of history after the important historical forces have steamed past.

There are some solid accounts of fascinating historical detective work. There are also extensive descriptions of the disputes and squabbles amongst impassioned and eccentric characters about matters that seem to be of purely symbolic or parochial significance. Who has jurisdiction over the Romanov bones? How should the Anna Anderson samples be DNA tested? Who is properly in line for the nonexistent throne of Russia?

A little of this is fascinating, but more can feel like painful overkill, and I experienced both listening to the book. Stretches feel like being trapped in the middle seat on an airplane with bitterly opposed monomaniacs on either side, grinding their axes and splitting hairs that only they know or care about.

But if you can let those stretches pass, the book is a interesting, if rather slight and peripheral, gloss on russian history and culture.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Very "technical"

Any additional comments?

This book really isn't about the Tzar and his family's last days. The first third is about the finding of the bones, tons of details, and the legal battles. The second third is about Anna Anderson but mostly about the legal battles over preserved body parts and who would test them for DNA. The last third is mostly a long list of ancestors who may have claim to the throne (At least he never used the word begat!). At the end, a little about the last days by way of quoting Alexandra's diary................................................................................................................................................. I enjoyed the book but it absolutely wasn't what I was expecting. The discussions of what the judge told such-and-such and which scientists were allowed to see the bones were a bit tedious. And the minute detail about DNA testing were over the top. A good reading of a pretty good book about legalities and science of the near past.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Fascinating...if you're a forensic scientist

What would have made The Romanovs better?

Less emphasis on scientific sampling and mechanics of extracting and analyzing DNA evidence.

What was most disappointing about Robert K. Massie’s story?

A story that continues to fascinate people was buried in a science manual.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tyler
  • Red Deer, AB, Canada
  • 04-07-13

Interesting and compelling.

So I have been interested in Russian History since I was a boy; in particular into the assassination of the Tsar and his family in 1918. Massie does an amazing recount of the event, the investigation, and aftermath of this historically relevant time in history. If you're at all captivated by this subject than I strongly recommend it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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thrilling and an absolute "page turner"

a tragic story but so well written this is a newly discovered author for me and I am a new loyal fan. second book of his I read. highly recommend

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  • harley
  • DES MOINES, WA, United States
  • 12-05-11

A great help for my IB history IA! :)

What made the experience of listening to The Romanovs the most enjoyable?

Very easy to listen too, easy to follow, great story!

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Romanovs?

The explanation of the execution. ;/

Which character – as performed by Geoffrey Howard – was your favorite?

..

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Execution. :(

0 of 4 people found this review helpful