Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

Nicholas and Alexandra

The story of the love that ended an empire.

In this commanding book, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Robert K. Massie sweeps readers back to the extraordinary world of Imperial Russia to tell the story of the Romanovs’ lives: Nicholas’s political naïveté, Alexandra’s obsession with the corrupt mystic Rasputin, and little Alexis’s brave struggle with hemophilia. Against a lavi

In this commanding book, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Robert K. Massie sweeps readers back to the extraordinary world of Imperial Russia to tell the story of the Romanovs’ lives: Nicholas’s political naïveté, Alexandra’s obsession with the corrupt mystic Rasputin, and little Alexis’s brave struggle with hemophilia. Against a lavish backdrop of luxury and intrigue, Massie unfolds a powerful drama of passion and history—the story of a doomed empire and the death-marked royals who watched it crumble.
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    Chrissie

    Aug 14, 2010

    rated it
    it was amazing

    NO SPOILERS!!!

    On completion: I very highly recommend this book to those interested in Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov, to anyone interested in Russian history, to those interested in the beginning of Bolshevism in Russia and also to those who enjoy historical biographies written by talented authors. Massie can write. He knows his subject, in and out, backward and forward. There are detailed notes to every chapter. You never have to doubt the accuracy of that which you are reading. He analyzes all

    On completion: I very highly recommend this book to those interested in Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov, to anyone interested in Russian history, to those interested in the beginning of Bolshevism in Russia and also to those who enjoy historical biographies written by talented authors. Massie can write. He knows his subject, in and out, backward and forward. There are detailed notes to every chapter. You never have to doubt the accuracy of that which you are reading. He analyzes all the possibilities. Moreover, he does all this without ever boring the reader. I feel I truly understand who Nicholas, Alexandra and Alexis were as people. I come away with an understand of who these individuals really were. No other books I have read has ever done this to wonderfully. The book included photos and a family tree.

    You do have to be awake to read the book :0). At one point there I was getting kind of tired….. Beyond praising the book, I praise the author. Massie has written a book on Peter the Great, Peter the Great: His Life and World, and it is said he will come out with a book on Catherine the Great in November, Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman. I want to read both very, very much. I find none of them available in Kindle, which is quite a disappointment……but I haven’t given up searching.

    If you like crime novel, read this instead! This is the real thing.

    Oh, one more thing, you must read this book to learn about Rasputin and hemophilia! And if there is a moral to the book, it is tell people what is going on. If you don’t, others will dream up a bunch of incorrect explanations.

    Through page 358: This book gives an engaging and very clear description of the time period leading up to WW1. The author explains in both in broad terms and then with interesting details. I must say very clearly that this book is detailed, and it is a book of history. There are sections where I am fatigued by military strategies and battles. To say this doesn’t happen would be untrue. Or maybe I am just plain tired and should go to bed…..

    Through page 161: The research is thorough and impeccable. There are tons of details, but never do I feel swamped. I believe some sections will appeal to one reader and others to another. None is boring. I was less drawn to the detailed analysis of the 1905 Revolution, but then the next chapter switched to life at Tsarskoe Selo, and I was enchanted. The Catherine and Alexander Palaces situated on the grounds, although diametrically different, are both beautifully described. Then the text goes on to describe the minute characteristics of the five children and Alexandra. You cannot leave this chapter without feeling immersed into each one’s personal traits. All is documented and accurately portrayed. And terribly interesting.

    Through Part One, page 114: The book details the political alliances and military occurrences taking place at the beginning of the 20th century. To enjoy this book you must be interested in history. The Russian war against Japan, the French, English and German alliances, Kaiser William II’s maneuvering all of this is discussed.

    Throgh: page 77: If you are curious about the last Tsar of Russia, read this book. It will not disappoint. You are given a thorough understanding of what shaped Nicholas and Alexandra. Childhood experiences are always life-determining, and here they are laid out in a clear and interesting manner. You understand why Alexandra is shy, why she feels a kinship with the Russian people, the serfs freed by Alexander II, rather than the elite. You come to understand why, in turn, she was not welcomed by the Russian elite, at least not now in the beginning, immediately after her marriage with Nicholas. You come to understand the tension that arose between her and the Empress Dowager. Alexandra’s German mother died when she was six. She was primarily raised by her grandmother, Queen Victoria. She and Nicholas were married only one week after the funeral of Nicholas’ father. His death was unexpected. He was only 49! She was forced to convert to the Russian Orthodox Church from the Lutheran faith, a prerequisite for the marriage. She was totally unprepared for what lay before her. And the same was true for Nicholas. It was a marriage of love, they chose each other, and they got their way. Of course there were several important leaders that approved!

    Not only do we learn about Nicholas and Alexandra in a fascinating manner, but also other individuals. We learn of Lenin’s (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov’s)youth.

    He was an excellent student in school, and when the other Ulyanov children brought their marks home and solemnly reported them to their parents, Volodya (as he was called at home) simply burst through the door and up the stairs, shouting “Excellent in everything!”(page 76)

    His mother, Maria Blank, was a Volga German. Enough! If you find this fascinating I recommend the book to you.

    **********************************

    Having just begun the book, I am blown over by the author’s way with words. Wow, can Robert Massie describe landscapes so you can see them, sparkle or huddle in the cold. I am not going to tell you what the book is about. For that you can read the book description. Here follows a quote so you can taste the writing:

    Despite the Mediterranean style, St. Petersburg was a northern city where the Arctic latitudes played odd tricks with light and time. Winter nights began early in the afternoon and lasted until the middle of the following morning. Icy winds and whistling snowstorms swept across the flat plain surrounding the city to lash the walls and the windows of the Renaissance palaces and freeze the Neva hard as steel. Over the baroque spires and the frozen canals danced the strange fires of the aurora borealis. Occasionally a brilliant day would break the gloomy monotony. The sky would turn a crystal blue and the snowflakes on the trees, rooftops and gilded domes would sparkle with sunlight so bright that the eye could not bear the dazzling glare. Winter was a great leveler. Tsar, priest and factory worker all layered themselves in clothing and upon coming in from the street, headed straight to the bubbling samovar for a glass of hot tea. (page 7)

    Don’t you want to be there and breathe in the cold crisp air? Doesn’t the teas scorch your throat? For me, how a book is written is much more important than the plot line! This is beautiful writing, and the author wonderfully blends in history so you do not even know you are learning! I like this book
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    Matt

    May 28, 2009

    rated it
    really liked it

    A monarchy falls. A revolution begins. A civil war is fought. A wall is built. A couple million die in gulags. And all because two people fell in love.

    The couple is, as the title might lead you to speculate, Nicholas and Alexandra. The last of the Romanovs.

    Tsar Nicholas II was a resoundingly mediocre man. He did not have the capacity for greatness, which he showed time and again. He led Russia from a great power into revolution, a long slide that saw the distrous Russo-Sino War, anti-semitic p

    The couple is, as the title might lead you to speculate, Nicholas and Alexandra. The last of the Romanovs.

    Tsar Nicholas II was a resoundingly mediocre man. He did not have the capacity for greatness, which he showed time and again. He led Russia from a great power into revolution, a long slide that saw the distrous Russo-Sino War, anti-semitic pogroms, labor riots, and a smashing defeat by the Germans in World War I. Exhibit A for the stupidity of hereditary monarchies is Nicholas II.

    Alexandra Feodorovna, German-born, was his wife. She was quiet, distant, and private, which made her unpopular among the Russian court. She was also, and most tragically, a carrier of hemophilia. She passed this onto her son, Alexei, and then reached out to the mad monk Rasputin in a desperate attempt to heal him. In Robert Massey’s telling, this event caused the downfall of the Romanovs: at the worst possible time, with a war being lost in the east, and workers rioting, and people clamoring for democratic representation, the Romanovs turned inward, focused solely on the fate of their fragile young son.

    Massey is a marvelous narrative historian. He is a believer in the “great man” theory of history, where historical events are shaped by personalities, rather than events. I tend to agree with him – or more specifically, to believe that history springs from people, great or otherwise – so I enjoy his books. At the very least, his books are never dull. He’s a great writer, and the opening lines of the book just hook you:

    From the Baltic city of St. Petersburg, built on a river marsh in a far northern corner of the empire, the Tsar ruled Russia. So immense were the Tsar’s dominions that, as night began to fall along their western borders, day already was breaking on their Pacific coast. Between these distant frontiers lay a continent, one sixth of the land surface of the globe. Through the depth of Russia’s winters, millions of tall pine trees stood silent under heavy snows. In the summer, clusters of white-trunked birch trees rustled their silvery leaves in the slanting rays of the afternoon sun. Rivers, wide and flat, flowed peacefully through the grassy plains of European Russia toward a limitless southern horizon…

    There are criticisms of Massey as a historian. To be sure, he is not an academic. But there are few writers I prefer. For my taste, he is an extraordinary biographer. He gets you into the lives of people like no other writer – of non-fiction or fiction – that I’ve ever read.

    There tends to be a problem with objectivity, though. Massey gets so close to his historical subjects that he isn’t able to be objective in any meaningful way (I’ve never read so flattering a portrait of Kaiser Wilhelm as I did in Massey’s Dreadnought). It is clear that Massey respects the Romanov family and is especially forgiving of Nicholas II, who he bends over backward to redeem. In Massey’s view, Nicky did his best, and found himself unable to rise to a near-impossible task. This is a little hard to swallow in light of the pogroms that took place during his administration, and his seeming indifference to the bloody squelching of labor riots. Nicholas, it has been said, would have made a find postal clerk. You can’t blame him for what he was; you can blame him retaining his throne despite his own deficiencies.

    One of the shortcomings of Nicholas and Alexandra is its narrow focus on the royal couple at the expense of any wider context for the events that caused their fall. One could read this book and be forgiven for thinking it was all somehow Rasputin’s fault. Certainly, he played a role, especially in getting Nicholas II to take command of the army, but the seeds of revolution had been planted long before; they just took time to grow. As I mentioned above, I love history books that pay attention to human agency in events. At the same time, I’m not so naive to believe that the cumulative effect of history doesn’t sometimes overwhelm things. In other words, it didn’t all come down to the Mad Monk.

    Another problem, stemming from the first, is that Massey’s approach greatly simplifies a complex issue. While everything is going to hell in Russia, Massey stays focused on this adorable, beautiful, loving, close-knit family. The Romanovs are humanized and, by unintentional elision, the rest of Russia is turned monstrous. There is little time spent developing the setting of the Russian Revolution – the millions of peasants who starved while the Romanovs dined on foie gras (or whatever it is that rich people eat).

    This story, following Stalin’s dictum (“One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic”), trades the horrors of the multitude for a detailed look at the death of a single family. At the end, it’s almost as if Massey has to look away, for his telling of their execution is brief and fairly non-descript (especially compared to his fascination with the knout in Peter the Great and the careful reconstruction of the executions in King’s The Fate of the Romanovs). Massey goes so far as to censor contemporary accounts, which is insulting. (Hey, it’s okay to tell us that one of the executioners touched Alexandra’s breasts post mortem. We’re all adults here).

    In all, though, a great book. I also bought the sort-of sequel The Romanovs: the Final Chapter; however, it turns out that recent discoveries vis-a-vis Anastasia have made reading it a waste of time. Massey, to his credit, never bought the Anna Anderson charade, but stuck to the view that Anastasia (or Marie) and Alexei were burned and would never be discovered. Well, they were discovered, just a couple years ago (Yurovsky was telling the truth. Who woulda thunk?) So case closed on all that.

    For whatever reason, I’ve found the men and women of the World War I era to be the most fascinatingly human of any I’ve encountered in my historical reading. From the widowed bird watcher Edward Grey, who backed England into war, to the crippled Kaiser Wilhelm II, who loved playing soldier/sailor, to Nicholas II, who really just wanted to sit on the couch and read in the presence of his family, these are all beguilingly normal people tasked with extraordinarily abnormal responsibilities. It’s amazing how many of the tragedies of that time came because these people were simply not commensurate with the challenges they were tasked with handling.

    …more

    Dem

    Nicholas & Alexandra is the tragic and compelling story of the last Tsar and his family by Robert K. Massie, this book was first published in 1968 and is an amazing and historically accurate account of the fall of the Romanovs and the collapse of Imperial Russia but is also The story of Nicholas a husband and father and a family who dealt with a child suffering from haemophilia.

    The focus of this book is on the family but with an engrossing account of one of the century’s most dramatic events

    The focus of this book is on the family but with an engrossing account of one of the century’s most dramatic events in the background. So with this book you get the best of both worlds you get an accurate historical account of the collapse of Imperial Russia and an exquisite account of love and compassion and you are transported back to Russia in a time of the magnificent life of the court of St Petersburg the opulent palaces and the great balls.

    It took me a long time to read this book but I found myself so engrossed in the story as the writing is magnificent and I felt that the author Massie transported me to Russia in a way that no writer has ever done before. I spent so much time checking out all the palace names on the computer and the people in the book that I was even thinking about the book when I was not reading it.

    Most importantly I learned to much from this book, it is such an education.

    I have had this book on my bookshelf for quite a while and had put off reading it until a friend picked it up one day and was amazed that I had not read it.

    I loved this book and would rate it in my top 5 books of all times!! Now all I have to do is visit all the places I have read about in this book.
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