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"but who's going to be tsar then?"

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I could probably qualify as an honorary historian of the Romanov family. I have studied their fascinating story for many years merely out of my own curiosity. I have watched documentaries and I've read many books and articles about the family and their heartbreaking assassination in 1918.
Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie is considered to be a classic among people who study the Romanov family, and I knew that I needed to read it someday in order to satisfy more of my unquenchable interest in the Romanovs.

This book surprised me. It was different than how I expected it to be. Based on the title, I was expecting this book to mainly document the relationship and lives of Nicholas and Alix, but there was so so so much more.

It was so incredibly, astonishingly rich in historical detail. I was nerding out a lot more than I probably should have as I was connecting the political dots together during the chapters on World War I. This is the type of book that you have no choice but to give your full attention to so that you don't lose track of who is related to who and what all was going on during this time in history.

However, this book does also focus a lot on the lives of Nicholas and Alix, as it promises. When I was finished reading, I felt as if I knew Nicholas and Alexandra intimately. I think it's easy for people studying history to forget that they were just human beings like everyone else. They made mistakes,  they had feelings, and people they cared about. I felt like I especially understood Nicholas and who he was as a tsar far better after I read this book than I did before.
Reading Nicholas and Alexandra made me think about history in a different way. It helped me understand Nicholas, Alix, Alexis, Rasputin, and the Bolshevik revolutionaries more.

Another aspect that surprised me about this account of the Romanov family is the amount of detail it went into Alexis and his battle with hemophilia. Everyone knows now that the tsarevich struggled throughout his whole life with hemophilia, inherited from his mother, but I had never really thought about how heartbreaking it was, and how Alexis' disease played a role in changing the course of history for Russia and the world.

It wrecks me to think that the tragic deaths of the Romanov family really happened, but they did. History is real. And it's crazy to think how every little thing is connected and how history has shaped the way the world is today.
Nicholas and Alexandra is a beautifully written testament to the Romanovs, in the hopes that their story won't ever be forgotten.
“I have a secret conviction," [Nicholas] once told one of his ministers, "that I am destined for a terrible trial, that I shall not receive my reward on this earth” 
― Robert K. MassieNicholas and Alexandra
because this song kept playing over and over in my head as I was reading

7 comments

  1. The Russian royal family always fascinated me ever since their tale was introduced in a middle grade series called The 39 Clues (although keeping track of all of the connections is confusing-- although fiction, think War and Peace). Finding good historical accounts is always hard, because it a lot of them just feel detached from the actual referred counterparts, but I'm glad this book brings an intimate closeness to these historical figures that can often see far away, and you've sparked some interest for me to read it. Thank you!

    xoxo Abigail Lennah | ups & downs

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    1. THE BLACK CIRCLE WAS ONE OF MY FAVOURITES OF THE 39 CLUES. (It made me so fascinated with Russia that I wrote my next essay on reasons to visit. ;)

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    2. I never read the 39 Clues books, though they were popular with many of my friends. It's cool that they talked about the Romanovs in it. Glad you enjoyed the review. :)

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  2. I think I need to read this... The Romanov family is SOOO fascinating, and the way you described this book makes it a must read. I started reading this book about Alix's older sister Ella by Lubov Millar. I believe it's called "Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia." It's really insightful and makes the historical figures 'come alive' so I think you might like it if you haven't already read it. (-:

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    1. Ahhh yes! Read it so that we can gush about it together! Ella made several cameos in Nicholas and Alexandra, and her story is super fascinating. I'll need to check that book out!

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  3. In all honesty, I barely know anything about Russia. I should just add this to my tbr, then. I need to be educated.

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