The Romanovs (Paperback)Simon Sebag Montefiore (author)
Waterstones Non-Fiction Book of the Month for February (2017)
The Romanovs inhabit a world of family rivalry, imperial ambition, lurid glamour, sexual excess and depraved sadism; this is a world where obscure strangers suddenly claim to be dead monarchs reborn, brides are poisoned, fathers torture their sons to death, sons kill fathers, wives murder husbands, a holy man, poisoned and shot, arises, apparently, from the dead, barbers and peasants ascend to supremacy, giants and freaks are collected, dwarfs are tossed, beheaded heads kissed, tongues torn out, flesh knouted off bodies, rectums impaled, children slaughtered; here are fashion-mad nymphomaniacal empresses, lesbian ménages à trois, and an emperor who wrote the most erotic correspondence ever written by a head of state.
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 twenty 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 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 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.
From warring dynasties to royal rabbits, Simon Sebag Montefiore has many strings to his literary bow. A historian, journalist, presenter, biographer and novelist he is best known for his contributions to history including Catherine the Great and Potemkin and Jerusalem: the Biography as well as two biographies of Stalin: Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar and Young Stalin (which won the Costa Biography Award). He is also the author of the acclaimed novels Sashenka and One Night in Winter and The Royal Rabbits of London in collaboration with his wife, the author Santa Montefiore.
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Number of pages: 736
Weight: 586 g
Dimensions: 197 x 131 x 45 mm
"Simon Sebag Montefiore's The Romanovs is epic history on the grandest scale . . .Game of Thrones seems like the proverbial vicar's tea party in comparison.' - Antony Beevor, FT
'Captivating . . . The story of the Romanovs has been told countless times but never with such a compelling combination of literary flair, narrative drive, solid research and psychological insight.' - Douglas Smith, Literary Review
'... an extraordinary and gripping tale . . . By turns horrific, hilarious and moving, but ultimately tragic, this is essential reading for anyone interested in Russia' - Adam Zamoyski ,The Spectator
'Wonderfully compelling and insightful . . . The Romanovs is the gripping and scarcely credible tale of the most successful royal dynasty since the Caesars, and Sebag Montefiore tells it brilliantly' - Saul David , Evening Standard
'An impressive book that combines rigorous research with exquisite prose' -- Gerard de Groot * THE TIMES *
'Montefiore's journey through 300 years of the Romanov dynasty is a study of brutality, sex and power . . . riveting . . . the research is meticulous and the style captivating' -- John Kampfner * THE OBSERVER *
As much a riveting read as a prodigious work of scholarship . . . he could not have picked a better time to publish this epic and enthralling history of a dynasty that rose up drenched in blood and died out in exactly the same manner' -- Dominic Midgley * DAILY EXPRESS *
'Simon Sebag Montefiore has written a magisterial account of unlimited power and sexual decadence based on a remarkable correspondence' * THE MAIL ON SUNDAY *
'Panoramic . . . Montefiore tells it compellingly' -- Roger Lewis * DAILY MAIL *
'Sebag Montefiore's book is an immensely entertaining read . . .The story of the last Romanovs has been told a thousand times, yet it is a tribute to Sebag Montefiore's skill as a narrator that you turn the pages with horrified fascination' -- Dominic Sandbrook * SUNDAY TIMES *
'A glorious history of the Romanov dynasty bursting with blood, sex and tears' -- Peter Frankopan * DAILY TELEGRAPH
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“Astonishingly broad and well written”
I was slightly skeptical about whether a book covering three hundred years of Russian history could remain interesting - I thought it might fizzle out or become tedious. I was completely wrong: this book was... More
“Dazzlingly well written”
Wow! What a magnificent. consummate history. Meticulously researched, it's as insightful as it is acutely detailed. Sebag Montefiore is endlessly informative, at times disarmingly funny, and very humane. Last but... More
Here it is, Simon Sebag Montefiore's staggering masterpiece. Trully beautiful in style and vision, his epic tale of one of our world's most fabled dynasties brings to life over 300 years of history,... More
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