Read The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming Online

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Here is the tumultuous, heartrending, true story of the Romanovs—at once an intimate portrait of Russia's last royal family and a gripping account of its undoing. Using captivating photos and compelling first person accounts, award-winning author Candace Fleming (Amelia Lost; The Lincolns) deftly maneuvers between the imperial family’s extravagant lives and the plight of RHere is the tumultuous, heartrending, true story of the Romanovs—at once an intimate portrait of Russia's last royal family and a gripping account of its undoing. Using captivating photos and compelling first person accounts, award-winning author Candace Fleming (Amelia Lost; The Lincolns) deftly maneuvers between the imperial family’s extravagant lives and the plight of Russia's poor masses, making this an utterly mesmerizing read as well as a perfect resource for meeting Common Core standards....

Title : The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia
Author :
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ISBN : 9780375867828
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia Reviews

  • Jessica
    2019-01-12 13:57

    Wow.This was just superb. I kept hearing buzz so I picked it up at the library to just look through it and check out the pictures (there are two sections of photographs) and ended up fully engrossed, reading it from cover to cover in a day. I knew the facts of the Russian Revolution, and that the tsar and his family were murdered and the bodies lost and Rasputin was real weird and so on and so forth, but this takes you beyond the facts. Fleming paints a fascinating picture of Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, using the letters and diaries of not just the Romanov family and their close friends, but also the diaries and letters of the common people looking up at them from their poverty. And the poverty was extreme, horrifyingly extreme! Not that it got any better after the tsar was deposed. Good grief, Russian history is horrible! This book should have been called Mistakes Were Made, but that could apply to the Romanovs, Lenin, Stalin . . . pretty much everyone. It was amazing to read about the opulence of palace life contrasted with the abject poverty and ignorance of the average commoner. I had no idea that the distribution of wealth was so extreme, either. We talk in our country about the 1% and the 99%, but Russia at the time literally had 1% of people living in palaces with gold-plated walls and eating exotic reindeer tongue snacks, while 99% mixed straw and clay with their bread to make it more filling.I felt great sympathy for Nicholas and Alexandra after reading this. I mean, he was the worst tsar ever. The worst. He never should have been in a leadership position of any kind, and he was barely even trying to rule, even during the war. He was a racist, an anti-Semite, and kind of an idiot, but he could have muddled along quite nicely in life as a devoted husband and father, if only he hadn't been put on a throne. But he was. He had no training, no specific education, and everyone knew he would be a terrible ruler, but they crowned him anyway because the DYNASTY MUST GO ON. And Alexandra was a hot mess as well. Yeesh. Together and separately they were responsible for many horrible deaths, and so much sorrow. But nobody, and I mean NOBODY deserves to be trapped in a cellar with their CHILDREN and shot approximately 1,000 times. NOBODY. THEIR CHILDREN.Their poor children. That's what breaks your heart. Spoiled and sheltered and yet still basically sweet, good young people, and they MURDERED THEM. The man who orchestrated their assassination and took the first shot is burning hell now, that's one thing I know for sure. There's a picture in this book of the room they were shot in. The walls are covered with bullet holes and bayonet marks, it's absolutely appalling. Appalling. And for what? Did anything improve? Spoiler alert: everyone continued to starve and freeze to death under communist rule! Yay, communism!Anyway. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about this book and the events it covers. We could discuss it at length, but I should probably do some work tonight. Suffice it to say: This book was riveting. If you are interested in history at all, you need to read this. If you are interested in Russia, you need to read this. This book took the facts of the Russian Revolution and made me actually see and understand it.

  • Donalyn
    2019-01-06 14:13

    It makes me cringe to see "perfect resource for meeting Common Core Standards" on a trade book blurb. Savvy teachers and librarians can determine how to use quality books. Well-researched and artfully written. The best book I've read on the Romanovs for any age.

  • Carol
    2019-01-08 17:24

    Well Done!This YA history was just enough for anyone wanting a general idea of what happened to the fall of the Romanovs, the last Tsar and Tsarina, Nicholas II and Alexandra and their beautiful family. What I really loved about this edition of the many books written about The Romanovs is the format the author, Candace Fleming used in presenting the story of the emperor and daily family life, then in chapters titled "Beyond the Palace Gates" which gave voice to the people. These clearly show Nicholas' disconnect with the common populace. In the audio version Kimberly Farr narrates the main story clearly and succinctly. Russian accented narrators bring this period of history to life in their performances of the “Beyond the Gates” segments. These sections were poignant and made this an outstanding read. Recommended for high school readers and adults who want an uncomplicated overview of this important piece of Russian history.

  • Laura
    2018-12-27 13:11

    "A blessing for the czar? Of course. May God bless and keep the czar...far away from us."

  • BAM The Bibliomaniac
    2019-01-07 10:13

    The difference between this book and others about the Romanovs are the little vignettes between chapters in voices of the people suffering under a Czarist regime.I still recommend Massie for anything Russia. No point in reading anyone but him. He's much more knowledge.

  • Rachel
    2019-01-07 14:07

    I never knew I could read about Russian history and politics and be so captivated. It was such a dismal time and there was so much suffering. My heart feels heavy after getting to know the Romanovs and then seeing their brutal demise. Excellent read.

  • Amy Rae
    2018-12-26 13:01

    You know, I thought I knew stuff about the Romanovs.I had a well-worn copy of Anastasia's Album: The Last Tsar's Youngest Daughter Tells Her Own Story as a kid. I learned about her (and the rest of her family) in eighth grade from poor Mrs. Reilly, who clearly was tired of fielding questions about the animated film (which, imo, is fantastic in every sense of the word); she started our Russia unit by informing us all that despite what we might have seen, Anastasia died with the rest of her family, and we weren't going to be talking about what if she survived.But everything I read and learned was written with a lot of leeway given towards the Romanovs. If I learned much of anything about the conditions that led to their deaths, I forgot it years ago; my memories of learning about the Romanovs go along the lines of "Once upon a time, there was a rich, royal, tragic family, and Bolsheviks killed them in a cellar. And Anastasia didn't escape."With Candace Fleming's excellent book, it's hard to imagine walking away with the same lessons. She doesn't shy away from including the family's flaws (and boy, howdy, those were some bone-deep flawed people) and doesn't get overly caught up in fawning over their picturesque lives. (Faberge eggs don't come up once, for instance.) Better yet, she includes stories of the world outside their lives of luxury, and many chapters end with eyewitness accounts of the poverty and hardship the less privileged multitudes experienced. By including the stories of the common people in Russia, it becomes strikingly clear just why revolution appealed to the nation. And by tracing the political interests of the different factions, she makes it easy to follow how the revolution happened.I have a few qualms that keep me from giving it five stars, though: • In at least one place, I wanted Fleming to take things a little further than she did. She goes into the grand duchesses' atrocious, piecemeal education. It was fascinating and new to me, but I was reading it going, "Well, it sounds like Alexandra absorbed the angel in the house mentality while she was living in England." Fleming doesn't bring that up as a possibility, and teens unfamiliar with the concept (I certainly hadn't heard of it when I was in the target age group for this book) won't be able to make the connection themselves. There might be other places she could have given more information than she did, but I'm not overly familiar with Russian history beyond the visuals of Russian Ark.• Fleming editorializes more than I want in a history book, and I wish there were linked footnotes in the ebook to allow the reader to see her sources for various quotations. This is my "fuck no, narrative non-fiction" bias speaking, but I really don't need rhetorical questions like (paraphrased) "Did the grand duchesses stare into a mirror and remember the lace dresses they used to wear before the revolution????" tossed into a book, nor do I require quite so many adverbs to inform me how various people were feeling and acting.Along a similar line, she'll mention various people "saying" X or Y, and it's like, how do we know this? I much prefer when authors work the contexts of such quotations (most are from diary entries or letters, in these cases) into the prose, because it makes it easier to evaluate its source. (Is it Olga recording what she said in her diary or a family member writing it down in a letter or a bystander reporting it in a deposition? That information matters to me.) Or I want a footnote I can quickly click through to see where the quotation originated. By the time I've gotten to the very end of the book, I'm usually not in the mood to play match-the-quotation with things I read chapters ago.Despite these issues, I came away feeling like I understood this slice of Russian history far more clearly than I ever did back in middle school. This is a fascinating, useful book, and I hope it gets a lot of use in classrooms, libraries, and homes.

  • Chelsea
    2018-12-22 12:01

    Considering that my knowledge of this period of history can be summed up by:1.) The animated classic Anastasia and2.) Subpar world history lessons in the American school systemI learned sooo much from this book. Mainly that being Russian royalty would have been SO awesome and being a Russian peasant/factory worker would have sucked so, so, so hard. Which, really, isn't surprising and isn't specific to pre-revolutionary Russia. I also learned that Lenin had very little to do with the overthrow of the Czars, and really just took advantage of a favorable political climate when finally returned from exile.This book made it hard not to sympathize with the Romanov family. Not that they weren't horrible rulers who left their country in shambles, because they most definitely were, and they were most definitely given several political outs along with way. But there were familial, cultural, and global factors beyond their control and, truly, they were also just people. When we got to the ending I knew we'd get to, I found myself tearing up while driving home (note to self:: don't do that). To end, I'd like to make a note on the audiobook: I would highly recommend getting the audiobook if you can! While you'll miss out on the pictures that the print books comes with, the narrator does a fabulous job and there are male voice actors who read journal entries/historic documents and thus lend a deeper, secondary level to the narration.

  • Marti
    2019-01-11 13:26

    This is the perfect biography! Ms. Fleming has brought the "Family Romanov" to light with those small personal touches that make people come alive. Throw in a little early 20th century Russian political history, some first person accounts of the average daily life and you have a great read. Despite the fact that we know the how the story ends, the author has managed to to add an atmosphere of suspense. Interested in Russian history or just like a good biography,don' t miss this one.

  • Josiah
    2019-01-08 11:03

    If there's a hint of a good story somewhere in the past, Candace Fleming has a talent for extracting it from the timeline with perfect precision, not overlooking a single sentence from the historical record that adds pathos or relevance to the narrative. She's capable of turning even a moderately interesting historical tale into something good, and had so much more than that to work with in the saga of the Romanovs, a royal dynasty predating Czar Nicholas II's coronation by close to three hundred years. The charmed existence of the ruling class has long fascinated the common man, who gaze up at the comfort and wealth enjoyed by royalty and dream of living in such splendor, being waited on by dozens of servants whose sole purpose in life is to make things easier for the first family of their beloved homeland. The regent of any financially stable nation has traditionally been entitled to lavish benefits the working man never will enjoy, but even a leader the people are fond of can reach the limit of how much opulence will be allowed him if his commoners suffer while he indulges in luxury. The have-nots generally show high tolerance for their royals enjoying an aristocratic standard of living, but daily anguish siphons their goodwill a bit at a time, and if the monarch carelessly fails to notice the draining of the goodwill reserve and act to refill it, his lofty lifestyle may come crashing down as though termites had been left to gnaw at the wooden pillars keeping his palace erect. That is the story of Nicholas II and the downfall of Romanov autocracy after more than three centuries of family rule over Russia, the death of a cherished royal tradition and perhaps the pivotal event in Russia's history, both internally and in its major role on the world stage. The collapse of autocratic succession emitted shockwaves that influenced world affairs for untold years to come.Nicholas II wasn't a natural fit to be ruler. His father, Czar Alexander III, was more the imperial type: a physically intimidating, steel-willed dictator who kept the peasantry firmly under his thumb without being cruel enough to spark revolt. Nicholas, a lithe, sensitive boy without his father's aggressive demeanor, was an afterthought to the imperial court. As long as Alexander III lived, there was no need to think about the crown inevitably being passed on to Nicholas, and the young tsarevich was as relieved about this as anyone. When sixteen-year-old Nicholas met his twelve-year-old distant cousin, Alix, he didn't realize at first it was the start of a courtship that would blossom over the years into a royal marriage. For Alix would become Empress Alexandra after she wed Nicholas, and the final generation of Romanov rule would commence. Even a big bear of a man like Alexander III had to die one day, and when he did, a full-grown Nicholas assumed the throne beside Alexandra, whom he married a matter of days after his father's passing. The imperial couple weren't stilted with each other when they exchanged words in the privacy of their palace home, The Family Romanov assures us, and Alexandra reminded her husband that whatever troubles beset Russia, they would confront them together. "Darling boysy...me loves you, oh so very tenderly...you must always tell me everything, you can fully trust me, look upon me as a bit of yourself...How I love you, darling treasure, my very own one." The empress threw herself headfirst into her relationship with Russia's czar, committed to supporting him as the leader of one of the world's largest and most formidable powers. Nicholas would need every bit of strength Alexandra could give him for the unprecedented challenges ahead."I dreamed that I was loved. I woke and found it true." —Alix, The Family Romanov, P. 27 As the imperial couple maintained a lifestyle of extravagance subsidized by Russia's massive monetary reserve, attending dazzling soirees on a regular basis and moving from one cavernous palace to another as the seasons changed, the lower classes were becoming discontent with the status quo. Millions of peasants rotted in the streets, working physically torturous and often deadly jobs that paid too little to keep a single person in bread, let alone a family. Children had to work a job if they wanted to eat, forgoing education to help their families survive another week. The middle class didn't fare much better, but peasants endured the worst hardship, and their meager income was leached to funnel money toward the palace treasury for upkeep of the Romanov family. The downtrodden in Russia had been in dire straits for years, but under Nicholas the crisis reached its flash point, when the huddled masses would not silently endure their suffering any longer. Alexander III had been a strict czar, though fair enough in the minds of his commoners, and they turned to his successor with the hope that an earnest petition to Nicholas to help them improve their quality of life would be graciously received by a ruler with his people's interests at heart. Would Nicholas hear the peasants and ease their affliction? Grassroots social movement among the poor had been on the rise for more than a generation, and it started with self-education. At a time when the vast majority of Russian laborers were illiterate, peasants began picking up books and teaching themselves to read, though literature was as carefully censored by the government as newspapers, to eliminate potentially subversive material. Now the common man who worked an eighteen-hour day took time to read before going to sleep, and the literacy trend gained momentum as people learned to read and consider the opinions of social reformers. In the words of a weaver named Feodor Samilov, "Books taught me how to think." How crucial was it for the underprivileged classes to teach themselves to think independently after generations of them had lived and died in extreme poverty, every rung low enough for them to reach on the social ladder rotted to splinters? Literacy provided common points of informed discourse, and a view toward mobilizing themselves to request the lifestyle upgrades they deserved. The poorest of the poor could gather and intelligently discuss the treatment they expected from the czar. After compiling a list of reasoned demands, thousands of them marched on imperial headquarters to present Nicholas with their petition for change.This relatively docile revolution didn't turn out well. Seeing peasants approach the Winter Palace in a sea of dirty faces and tattered clothing, imperial soldiers fired on them in a slaughter that came to be known as "Bloody Sunday", Nicholas being dubbed the "Bloody Czar". The people were confident their czar would have compassion on them, that Nicholas was just so far removed from the cares of the real world that he had no idea what the peasants endured and would leap into action if they let him know, but this incident destroyed the people's trust in him, perhaps irreparably. As serious social upheaval set into motion by insurrectionists such as Vladimir Lenin began, however, the imperial family had problems of its own. The birth of their first child, Olga, was cause for celebration, though slightly dampened by the fact that as a female she was ineligible to succeed Nicholas as heir to the throne. Next came Tatiana, and her birth was more troubling still for a nation and family eager to welcome the next tsarevich into the world. When Alexandra's third pregnancy resulted in another daughter, Marie, Russia was nearly inconsolable. The empress wasn't a young girl anymore, and carrying babies to term was a hardship. A fourth child, Anastasia, was born, and dark clouds of uncertainty shrouded the Russian sun. How much more of this could they take? The long, painful wait made the arrival of Nicholas and Alexandra's fifth child, a son named Alexei, all the sweeter. Russia had its heir to the Romanov throne. If only it were that simple.Their request for an audience with the czar denied, the peasants' cry for social change grew more fervent, burgeoning into a rebellion that threatened to topple Russian autocracy. Nicholas had no choice but to capitulate to the demands of the furious working class, yielding key functions of the government to a cross-section legislature of citizens from every class of Russians. Imperial power was limited for the first time since its inception, but Nicholas's sadness over this development was tempered by other crises he faced. Alexei was not the healthy boy his parents hoped he would be. The littlest Romanov was born with hemophilia, a genetic disease on Alexandra's side of the family that almost cost the tsarevich his life a number of times. Any undetected internal bleeding was life-threatening, and all the doctors at the Romanovs' disposal could not cure the heir apparent. Many a night Alexei writhed in bed, a sheen of sweat on his fevered brow as he cried out in agony, his parents helpless to soothe the child's suffering. No one outside the family's inner circle knew about Alexei's ailment, for his hemophilia was a closely guarded secret. At about this time Gregory Rasputin entered the scene, and he would do more to advance the plot of the Romanov story than any other individual outside the family. At Alexandra's desperate plea, the supposed holy man attended to Alexei when the tsarevich appeared to be on the verge of death, and miraculously, Alexei recovered from his worst episode of hemophilia yet. Though Rasputin, reportedly a lecherous man who kept unsavory company and routinely drank himself into a stupor, occasionally fell out of favor with the Romanovs, his influence never disappeared, for several times he came when bidden and seemed to work his hypnotic magic on Alexei, snatching the boy back from the cold clutches of death. When Nicholas reluctantly entered World War I with a declaration of war on Austria-Hungary and Germany, Rasputin's clout with the czar extended even to selecting who would head Russia's various war departments, decisions based on who Rasputin liked and who had offended the "mad monk".Regardless of Rasputin's poor advice, World War I was not going as planned for Russia. Inadequate material support for the military caused their offensive to stall, then be forced into retreat as the enemy pushed them back beyond their own borders, seizing large sections of formerly Russian territory. As millions of peasant soldiers died on the combat front because the czar would not properly equip his army, Russia lost most of Poland, and further losses seemed certain. What started out as a reciprocal defense of Serbia had turned into disaster for Russia, and its people, manipulated by Vladimir Lenin in his desire to implement communism, were out of patience. While Nicholas stewed over the war in a faraway palace, revolution came to Russia, and panicked messages forwarded to the czar had little success making him understand the gravity of the situation. Imperial sovereignty would crumble if he didn't act immediately to appease the public, centuries of Romanov rule vanishing like a burned-out meteor in the still, sacred night. Yet Nicholas continued to dismiss entreaties that he appoint a provisional government without delay, and his opportunity to keep the Romanov dynasty intact came and went. Could imperial succession have been preserved had Nicholas paid attention at this point to how upset his people were? It's doubtful, considering the frenzy they were in over the World War I debacle, but we'll never know for sure. Nicholas had been dethroned without even the dignity of voluntarily resigning, and the people would accept no replacement czar. Imperial Russia was no more.Interim politicians had their hands full designing a government to satisfy the people who wanted democracy as well as those who insisted on full-blown communism, but the deposed Romanovs were not forgotten. They remained a symbol of imperial excess, anathema to the Bolshevik revolutionaries, and could be a danger to the revised political structure if public opinion ever swayed back toward sovereign rule. The royal family was shipped from one secret location to another across Russia, both to keep them safe from Bolsheviks wanting to make an example of them and to prevent their supporters from setting them free, but Lenin's men made it clear what they wanted: the Romanovs had to be executed, even the children. No trace of Russian autocracy could be permitted to survive. And so a game of death ensued, a race between the White Army fighting its way across Russia to rescue the Romanovs, and Lenin's bureaucrats, pleading with their dictator to let them end the Romanovs' lives while they had the chance. What happened next was a mystery that took nearly a hundred years to solve as people around the world wondered: what exactly happened to Russia's last imperial family?Candace Fleming does what only true masters of nonfiction are able to: fleshes out people in history so skillfully that it feels as though they are fictional characters of ingenious design, almost too intriguing to believe were real. Yet the Romanovs were a historical family just as presented in these pages, and Candace Fleming merely uses quotes and other documentation about them to create a portrait of these captivating, tragically flawed people who still capture our imagination and evoke strong emotional response in us. Nicholas had tyrannical leanings, and could be shockingly callous and brutal in dealing with his own people. Some would conclude he was nothing more than a monster in hand-stitched finery, but that's the kind of one-dimensional thinking Candace Fleming refuses to settle for in this book. We get to know human beings better when we recognize life as a rainbow of subtle shades and hues, not just black and white. Ms. Fleming's unbiased treatment of characters extends to the Romanovs, Rasputin, and beyond, for a comprehensive and trustworthy record of a complex period in world history."You are filled with anguish For the suffering of others. And no one's grief Has ever passed you by. You are relentless Only to yourself, Forever cold and pitiless. But if only you could look upon Your own sadness from a distance, Just once with a loving soul— Oh, how you would pity yourself. How sadly you would weep." —Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna Romanova, poem dedicated to her mother, April 23, 1917, quoted on page 179 of The Family RomanovThere's so much history to cover that it would be easy to fall into the trap of emphasizing either the plight of the Russian poor or the concerns of the Romanovs, but Candace Fleming somehow affords the two equal time. She sympathetically portrays the hopelessness of peasants before the revolution, especially the heavy hearts of parents who watched their kids perish from malnutrition and preventable disease. Said one working mother: "I had eleven [children], but only three grew up. You'd go to the factory, but your soul always was in torment. Your heart always grieved for your children." And their suffering could have been relieved had the czar commanded it. How could parents not harbor burning resentment for their imperial overseer under those conditions? Russian author Olga Petrovna Semyonova observed the effect this trauma had on peasant mothers. "She soon discovered that because more than half of all peasant children died, their mothers were emotionally distant. They were afraid to love their children." That emotional safeguard used by Russian mothers bled so deeply into the culture that it was passed down from one generation to the next, long after infant mortality rates were not so abysmal. It saturated the Russian way of life and became a stereotypical affect of mothers from that area of the world for a long time. But even the Romanovs with their extravagant riches and state-of-the-art healthcare were not immune to the grim reaper's scythe cutting down their little ones, as Nicholas and Alexandra discovered with Alexei. The reader's heart hurts for them as they prepared for the passing of the son they adored. "When I am dead it will not hurt anymore, will it, Mama?" Alexei asked when a severe bout of hemophilia appeared destined to end his life. The tsarevich's words brought his mother to tears, and I suspect did the same for many of us. The children's French teacher, Pierre Gilliard, insisted that although Alexei could be a haughty, exasperating troublemaker who caused his academic instructors stress to no end, he was "sensitive to the suffering in others because he suffered so much himself". Olga found Alexei lying in the grass one day staring into the sky, and asked her brother what he was doing. "I like to think and wonder," he told her. About what? "Oh, so many things...I enjoy the sun and the beauty of summer as long as I can. Who knows if one of these days I shall be prevented from doing it." Each day of life is an uncertain gift for us all, but that truth was easier to grasp for Alexei because death had held him in its suffocating embrace so many times, only to unexpectedly turn him loose at the eleventh hour. The tsarevich was keenly aware he could not elude mortality forever. He wanted only to enjoy the life he had been born into for as long as he could before that day came when the sun would warm his face no longer.We love stories about royalty, but the saga of the final Romanov generation holds unique fascination. Nicholas and his family lived at a time in history when the past was turning into a more technological future, with human and political intrigue as intense as ever on the world stage and hundreds of millions of smaller stages globally. Autocracy, monarchy, and classical imperialism were petering out and rule of the people was replacing them, though that was far from the end of the drama, especially in Russia. The end of Romanov preeminence was a jumping-off point for that massive societal change, and the lessons we can learn from Russia's first family are timeless. I would give The Family Romanov three and a half stars, and I could not have been nearer to rounding up to four. Nonfiction abounds about the Romanovs, but I don't imagine any other offering can be much more deeply felt than this book. Браво, Ms. Fleming, and thank you for refreshing my passion for this story.

  • A.L. Sowards
    2019-01-20 10:23

    I didn’t realize this was a YA history book when I checked the ebook out from the library. But I don’t regret reading it. I’ve read things about that time period before, but not focused on the Romanovs, so it was a good introduction. The writing was accessible and had good flow. The author really brought the family to life. The author also did a good job of showing the overall political atmosphere of Russia and the Soviet takeover.It’s a sad part of history. Nicholas wasn’t a very good leader. I wouldn’t say that’s entirely his fault—he didn’t receive very good training because his father didn’t like him and didn’t bother to give him any experience. So the Tsar and other Russian nobles held balls wearing costumes covered in gems, and the vast majority of Russians barely got enough to eat (or didn’t get enough to eat and died). Russian soldiers went off to fight the Great War without proper equipment—not enough artillery, enough rifles, enough socks, or enough overcoats. Nope, Nicholas wasn’t a very good ruler.Nicholas was, however, a decent father. Not perfect—he and his wife were overindulgent with their children. But there was love in that family, and it’s tragic that their lives all ended in a cellar in Ekaterinburg. It’s incredibly unjust that the children were murdered. The girls (ages 17 to 22) hadn’t done anything to merit execution. The poor things seemed nice, if spoiled. They were so bored in their confinement that they happily took lessons on laundry and baking bread, and gladly pitched in when the housecleaners arrived. I think they could have adjusted to a normal life (where they weren’t royalty and had to work) if they’d been allowed to live. And then poor 13-year old Alexei. The heir was so sick from hemophilia that he couldn’t even walk. Hardly a threat to the Communist regime. Did Nicholas deserve to lose power? I would say yes. Did he and his family deserve execution? I would say no. The Communists should have exiled them, just like Nicholas exiled so many. And what did the footman, cook, maid, and doctor do to deserve death?But what’s really sad about the death of the Romanovs is that nothing got better for the Russian people. They still starved. They still had few freedoms. They were still rounded up and shipped to Siberia or slaughtered in mass numbers. Their soldiers went into the next war without enough rifles. And they were still ruled with an iron fist. 4.5 stars, rounding up.

  • Jeanette
    2019-01-16 17:26

    This is a youth read giving much of the background reality to the state of Russia and its governance during the decades before the Fall of the Imperial structure and the family who reigned as Emperor/ Empress. This catches the quirky and superstitious mindset of the royalty. And frankly too of the Russian general culture. Religion and hierarchy and much else of educational structure seated in beliefs that magic and occult powers (pre-destination too) existed above almost all other realities.Truly, the royals were blind to the physical living conditions of most of the people. And the details are myriad and ever more increasingly dire to abysmal from decade to decade.Russian history revolves even just now. This book tells you about before this particular Revolutionary period and just after. IMHO, to look at Russia as a entity and at its governments (throughout its entire history too), it is essential that you study its geography and its populations. Never of one piece and always open to invasions, especially out of the plains from the West.This is a good book for those who have had little prior understanding of the Royals and onus of those directives from those in power that climaxed in Russian governmental overthrow. From one extreme to the other. Neither of them holding any idea of individual rights or essential entity of ownership.

  • Heather
    2018-12-21 12:19

    One of the best books I've read this year. Utterly captivating. I'm ashamed to admit I'm not real up on my world history, particularly this time period, or for that matter, Russia. I mean, Russia...This book is three stories in one; first, an intimate look at the Romanovs themselves. Second, the story of the revolution that began with the workers' strikes of 1905 to Lenin's rise to power in 1917. And thirdly and the most heartbreaking part is the personal stories of the peasants, the men and women who struggled to survive in Russia and desperately wanted a better life. I'm now completely fascinated and obsessed with all things Romanov and the fall of Imperial Russia. Crazy shit y'all. CRAZY.HIGHLY recommend this book, wonderfully done and incredibly well researched. I knew what was coming but I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Fleming does a tremendous job setting the scene and time period, I pictured everything and everyone like it was right in front of me, like a movie running in the background as I read.

  • Misty Baker
    2018-12-21 10:04

    **As posted on KindleObsessed blog**There is a pretty famous quote by Edmund Burke that says:“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”And, for as much weight as this is worth, I agree one hundred percent. Agreeing however, has done nothing to inspire my desire to learn. It’s fairly safe to assume that (with the exception of maybe 3 key historical figures and 1 major war) I am NOT going to win any history prizes anytime soon.The long and the short of it… I find it difficult to trudge though facts. I AM A FICTION FAN.As simple as that. I like new worlds, fascinating characters, and excitement. When I pick up a book I want to get lost in the world inside it. Biographies have NEVER done this for me. So, the big question is…Why would I (who claims to have a history aversion) agree to review a 253 page biographical history of the Romanov family and the fall of Imperial Russia?Easy, the Romanov’s fell into my “3 key historical figures” category. Go figure.“From the acclaimed author of Amelia Lost and The Lincolns comes a heartrending narrative nonfiction page-turner—and a perfect resource for meeting Common Core standards. When Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, inherited the throne in 1894, he was unprepared to do so. With their four daughters (including Anastasia) and only son, a hemophiliac, Nicholas and his reclusive wife, Alexandra, buried their heads in the sand, living a life of opulence as World War I raged outside their door and political unrest grew into the Russian Revolution.Deftly maneuvering between the lives of the Romanovs and the plight of Russia’s peasants and urban workers—and their eventual uprising—Fleming offers up a fascinating portrait, complete with inserts featuring period photographs and compelling primary-source material that brings it all to life.”I have never had the pleasure of writing a review on a novel that wasn’t based on the imagination, so please bear with me if I stumble around a bit. I’m on rocky ground. But if I was on the outside looking in…these are the things I would want to know.My biggest concern was onslaught of information. Like I said above, I get bogged down by facts. (Thats code for: they make me yawn…a lot.) I can appreciate facts, and I love the ability to throw them out later in conversation, but if the teacher’s (in this case Candace Fleming’s) intent is to make them stick, I need something for them to stick to. Fleming does a wonderful job of this. Not only does she paint an exquisite picture of Russia in the last 1800′s early 1900′s, but she does so in a way that makes you want to keep reading. Incorporating personal antidotes (for example Anastasia’s love of selfies: “I took one picture while looking in the mirror,” she told her father, “and it was hard, because my hands were shaking.”) while at the same time illustrating political unrest (“In cities all across Russia, police arrested anyone suspected of crimes against the tsar, imprisoning or exiling 38,000 so-called politicals, and executing another 5,000. Outspoken workers lost their jobs, their employers threatened with prison if they attempted to rehire them.”) She also allowed each social class (peasants/urban workers/professionals/clergy/nobility) to throw in their two cents by way of quoted excerpts from their OWN novels. (Page 48: “My Childhood” – Alexei Peshkov’s childhood autobiography. Page 96: “An Occupation for Worker’s Daughters” – Aizenshtein’s described life as a shop girl in 1908. etc.) The combination of all of these seemingly random elements made for an impressive narrative, allowing ME the READER to flow with the history unfolding instead of being buried by it. In short…it didn’t read so much like a history “lesson” but more a story of a family, a country, and what happens when people ignore the obvious. By page 40 I realized what I was reading was not at all what I was expecting. Another concern I had was chapter length. While I can read for HOURS when curled up with my favorite fiction novel, I find it decidedly more difficult to read non-fiction for long periods of time. There is (bluntly put) just more to take in. If I were to breeze past 100 pages in a hour I’m going to miss the majority of it, nuances that are necessary to the understanding and reason for the history lesson in the first place. Imperial Russia is better in small chunks WHICH Fleming provided. The novel as a whole is split up into 4 major parts. (Before the Storm, Dark Clouds of Gathering, The Storm Breaks, Final Days) but inside each part are chapters (I Dreamed That I Was Loved, What a Disappointment!, The Reign of Rasputin) and each chapter is only a few pages. For instance chapter 11 is titled: “The Reign of Rasputin” and starts on page 146. Chapter 12 which is titled: “It All Comes Tumbling Down” starts on page 156. To make it even better, there are sub-sections in each chapter breaking periods of time, significant events, and sub-plots such as the introduction of new people, down into a few paragraph. (Leapfrogging Ministers, The Point of No Return, Death to the Starets, The News.) These smaller sections helped to relay pertinent information while maintaining the flow of the “bigger picture.” I found that I could take in more, understand more, and even retain more with Flemings way of delivering information.Need proof? I had a 45 minute conversation with my husband about how WWI started, the number of Russian troops killed within the first 4 days, and how Russian soldiers were limited to 10 bullets a day due to bad planning. I knew NONE of this before I read Fleming’s novel. Even more important…I didn’t care. It was just “information.” I learned (and retained) more about WWI in 5 pages than I could have ever thought possible. And I’m happy that I know it. It’s IMPORTANT that I know it. I can’t sit here and tell you that this book has drastically altered my reading habits, it hasn’t. But I CAN tell you that I’ve never been more impressed while reading a novel of this nature. The history itself is devastating. The Romanov family, the quick acceptance of murder, rebellion, the hardships endured by the peasants, NONE of it is all that “easy to read” when put into perspective. But it’s relayed with class and backed by a significant amount of research. Both of which I can respect and appreciate on a level I never have before. Fleming managed to write a “readable” yet simultaneously detailed account of the Romanov’s and the decimation of their 300 years autocracy. Not an easy feat.I highly recommend this novel to history buffs. But even more…I recommend it to those who think history is a hard lesson. Fleming proves otherwise.Happy reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

  • Jasmine (singprettyreadbooks)
    2018-12-24 13:21

    Excellent. Read this as a complement to Carolyn Meyer’s “Anastasia and Her Sisters.” Feel free to hold out on Meyer’s book though - Fleming’s reads way better and is much more engaging.

  • Courteney Hooks
    2018-12-31 11:06

    Wow, did the animated Anastasia lie to me...

  • Rachael Stein
    2018-12-26 14:01

    I have to make a confession. Though we diligently try to include at least one work of nonfiction in our Mock Newbery discussions, in my heart of hearts I rarely find it as distinguished as the fiction and poetry it's up against. There have been some very well-crafted works of narrative nonfiction in the past ten years, but, to my mind, none of them has displayed the alchemical combination of plot, character, setting, style, and theme that distinguishes the best fiction.Until now. The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia is the first work of non-fiction that I would seriously defend as a Newbery frontrunner*. It would be difficult for me to say anything that was left unsaid by its six starred reviews, but I'll add my voice to the chorus of approval. It seems to me that it must be very difficult to write clearly about the Romanovs; a century after their deaths, most portrayals are either fairy tales and (literal) hagiography, or demonic caricature. By shifting her narrative point of view between the claustrophobic lives of the Tsar and his family, and events "outside the palace walls," Fleming deftly walks the tightrope between these two extremes. We are privy to both tender moments between Nicholas and Alexandra and instances of their shocking callousness and indifference to the suffering of the Russian people. What emerges is a portrait of a flawed, sad, arrogant, but ultimately human set of characters. Plot also presents a challenge in narrative nonfiction (especially when the foregone conclusion is well-known to most readers), but Fleming builds suspense through the use of expert pacing. She also immerses the reader in the setting with vivid details and primary sources - diaries, letters, memoirs - that remind of us what was at stake for every stratus of Russian society. Stylistically, she uses irony to wonderful/tragic effect - in one chapter, Nicholas plays dominoes and sips tea as Petrograd falls to mobs of hungry peasants.I'll be recommending this one to Sam for our final Mock Newbery reading list, and I'll come to the table prepared to defend it. Whether or not our participants elect it Maryland's choice for the most distinguished contribution to American's children's literature though, I have little doubt that they will find it, along with Booklist (and me), "compulsively readable."*Caveat: I never did get around to reading Bomb.

  • Sunday Cummins
    2019-01-20 10:26

    Extremely well written, appealing and accessible. While I knew the ending, I didn't want to put it down. Fleming not only tells the story of this family, but also of the world around them - starving peasants and academics, workers without rights, terrible living conditions and so forth--much of which the royal family took for granted or ignored, leading to their demise. The ideas and details in this book are haunting me because they resonate with many current issues in the 21st century world - Egypt, Syria, and the gap between the rich and the poor in the U.S. even. I'd recommend for 8th grade and up--independent reading or reading in a literature circle or for a savvy 7th grade reader with background knowledge about this period. There could be some amazing discussion about Fleming's choice of details and how she weaves primary sources into the narrative as well as the central ideas in the book.Also, Fleming makes an interesting point in her author's notes about how thoughts about the Tsar and his family were, for many decades, based on former nobility's fond memories of the times with family, nobility that fled to Europe when the Soviets took control. For decades citizens of this part of the world were forbidden to talk about the murder of this family. With the fall of Communism in 1991, though, the outside world was allowed to access Nicholas' diaries and letters as well as diaries written by the children and to gain a better idea of what these people were like. There was also access to documents related to the investigation of the family's murder with accounts from villagers and even the man who was in charge of their execution. It would make for interesting conversation to compare a book or text written about the Romanov family prior to 1991 and this one by Fleming.This book has received much well-deserved recognition and many awards including NCTE's Orbis Pictus Award for 2015 and ALA's Sibert Honor Award 2015.

  • Kristine
    2018-12-21 15:57

    This is my current top pick for Newbery brass. Are there some books I might enjoy more? Sure. But this is the most distinguished in what it attempts to do (tell the story of the fall of the Romanov empire, and do so in a nuanced way that explains political societal and familial power dynamics, and oh by the way write it in 250 pages and in a way that a 12 year old would be both engaged and educated?). It seems an impossible task. I couldn't put the book down - watching the worst case possible scenario play out in every single turn was maddening and improbable. The romanov's incompetency was mind blowing, but Fleming provided enough context to show how it had developed. The trials of the Russian people, my heart breaks to read of the past 100 years of brutal rule -sigh. I'm just feeling so melancholy at the end of it all. I suppose that's part of its magic, as I stare into the eyes of the Romanov family picture on the front cover, I'm filled with feelings of pity, disgust, compassion, and derision. Five full stars.PS the only downfall? The esteem of my favorite princess movie, Anastasia. :(

  • Staci
    2018-12-22 13:09

    This young adult non-fiction account of the Romanov Family pulled in my interest and held it. It was a multi-layered tale with details about the Romanov Family, peasants during the time period and the political events that occurred. It was incredibly interesting to learn how the Romanov Family lived including their final days. Details such as the personalities of each family member, what they wore, did in their free time, etc. add to the reader's understanding of what their life was like. One interesting detail is the children slept on Army cots rather than beds to keep them humble.The lives of peasants were difficult and it was easy to understand their discontent and motivation for revolution. Likewise, the political details of Tsar Nicholas II's reign, the revolution and then the takeover by Lenin were fascinating. Perhaps best of all were the details about information that has come to light since 1991. This young adult award winning book delivered a solid read for this adult. I recommend this book for readers that enjoy history.

  • Renata
    2019-01-18 17:04

    A great read (listen)! Basically all I know about this era of Russian history is, humiliatingly enough, from the animated movie Anastasia, so I spent the whole book being like, but where's the talking bat??? j/k. I mean for real there's no talking bat in this book, but it's a very compelling historical narrative with great use of primary source documents. I liked that the audio version had other readers for the letters and journals. It kinda spiced things up. It's also a great combination of humanizing the Romanov family and understanding how and why they were so cut off from the world, but also of how desperate the peasants were.also MURDER.

  • Mandy Prasad
    2019-01-21 11:15

    At the end of this book, author Candace Fleming states that she was frequently challenged about her previous perceptions of the Romanov family. After reading her book with thorough sources, I would also have to say that my perceptions were challenged. Great read with valuable insight shows you the true state of Russia, both the rich and the poor that led to the downfall of the 300+ year reign of the Tsars. I recommend this book to all history geeks out there, as I'm sure you'll learn something new.

  • Amanda
    2019-01-09 17:14

    A compelling and incredibly well-researched account of the last Tzar of Russia and his family. Fleming excels at blending the imperial family's story with that of the larger events of the early 20th century. She also manages to explain the beginnings of communism in a way that is understandable, no small feat. Highly, highly recommend.

  • Becky Rasdall
    2018-12-29 17:25

    I've always been so intrigued by the Romanov family and knew a lot of this information but it was fascinating reading it all out together in chronological order and with others points of view included. Such a tragic history for all levels of classes involved.

  • Becky Hintz
    2019-01-06 11:04

    Fast-paced history that reads like a novel. Ignore the "young adult" designation; this just means it's interesting and doesn't get bogged down in details. Readers of any age will find this to be an excellent intro to the Romanovs and the Russian Revolution.

  • Sarah Amelia
    2019-01-09 16:12

    Wow! Stunning book! Being the Russia obsessed person I am, I had to read it! I'm very glad that I did.UPDATE 10-24-15: Just got a copy of this book! :) soo happy.

  • Daisy jones
    2019-01-15 09:57

    As someone who confesses an ignorance to most history post-1900, this was a wonderfully concise introduction to the Romanov family. Unlike most non-fiction that I’ve experienced, the author touches on the state of Russia during WWI without relying on over-articulation by confusing wording choices. The book includes excerpts from both Alexandra & Nicholas’ diaries, along with excerpts from figures that worked for the ruling couple. Far from Saint Petersburg, we also experience accounts of living standards in Russia from those at the bottom of the hierarchy. I came into this book wishing for more knowledge of the Romanovs, and have left feeling much more informed about the state of international politics in the early 1900s. Regardless of how much I knew about the end of this story, I wasn’t ready to finish this book. I was absolutely gripped. I’ll always recommend this book to anyone of any interest. It is one of those rare books that brings you entirely out of your reading slump.

  • Ben
    2018-12-23 14:13

    Probably my favorite nonfiction book I've ever read. Really interesting to read about an event that isn't well known today, but is still very important. I recommend this book to fans of historical events.

  • Margo Tanenbaum
    2018-12-29 12:14

    Candace Fleming is a master at writing narrative nonfiction that is entertaining as well as informative, and her newest book on the tragic and doomed Romanovs is a worthy successor to her last foray into nonfiction, the highly acclaimed Amelia Lost. Fleming expertly weaves together the intimate life of Russia's last czar and his family with the saga of the revolution brewing underneath their royal noses, beginning with workers' strikes in 1905 and leading up to Lenin's seizing power in 1917. Interspersed with her compelling narrative are original documents from the time that tell the stories of ordinary men and women swept up in the dramatic events in Russia. Unlike many books for young people, which seem to romanticize the Romanovs, Fleming doesn't try to make the family into martyrs. Indeed, it is hard to have a lot of sympathy for the Russian royal family after reading Fleming's account. Fleming describes Nicholas as a young boy as "shy and gentle," unable to stand up to his "Russian bear of a father." His wife, the Empress Alexandra, a German princess raised to be a proper Englishwoman under the wing of Queen Victoria, never felt comfortable with the excesses of the bejeweled, partying Russian aristocracy, and encouraged her husband to retreat to Tsarskoe Selo, a park 15 miles and a world apart from St. Petersburg. Fleming brings us inside of their privileged--but also strangely spartan--life (for example the children were bathed with cold water in the mornings and slept on army cots in their palace!), one in which they had almost no contact with outsiders. Fleming manages to integrate her narrative history of the Romanov family with the larger history of the turbulent times in Russia, as the czar is forced to resign and he and his family are exiled to Siberia, fleeing in a train disguised as a "Japanese Red Cross Mission" so that the royal family would not be captured by angry peasants. She skips back and forth from the family's saga to what is happening in the capital, with plenty of original documents such as an excerpt from journalist John Reed's first-hand account of the swarming of the Winter Palace as well as excerpts from many other diaries.In my favorite quote in the book, Fleming discusses how Lenin nationalized the mansions and private homes throughout the country, while the owners were forced to live in the servants' quarters. She quotes one ex-servant as saying:"I've spent all my life in the stables while they live in their beautiful flats and lie on soft couches playing with their poodles...no more of that, I say! It's my turn to play with poodles now." Whatever one's feelings about the Romanovs, one cannot help but be moved by the account of their cruel assassination in the basement of their quarters in Siberia. Particularly ironic is the fate of the royal children, who did not die immediately because they were hiding the family jewels in their camisoles and other undergarments. This layer of jewels unwittingly created a bullet proof vest that protected them initially, until they were finally murdered with bayonets and then with gunshots. The bodies were immediately hidden in the woods, where the remains were not found until 1979 and then kept secret until the fall of communism in Russia. Ironically, the Romanovs have since been canonized by the Orthodox Church in Russia.The book is abundantly illustrated with archival photographs. An extensive bibliography is included, as well as a discussion of primary and secondary sources. Fleming also includes suggestions of websites on the Romanovs, as well as source notes for each chapter and an index. Highly recommended for middle school and high school students.

  • Lara
    2018-12-25 15:24

    The Romanov Empire under Tsar Nicholas II was doomed from the start. Nicholas’ father, the overbearing and tyrannical Alexander III, believed that his son was “girlie” and declared him a dunce once in public, and so Nicholas was not groomed or trained in the ways of government or governing. At the age of 30, Nicholas became tsar, completely unprepared and ill-equipped to lead Russia. He married Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Alix (named Alexandra upon her conversion to Russian Orthodoxy), shortly after the death of his father, causing the Russian people to refer to Alexandra as the “funeral bride,” and calling the marriage a bad omen. Instead of taking up residence in the Winter Palace, located centrally in the capital of St. Petersberg, Nicholas and Alexandra chose to reside in the simplest palace located in the countryside. They had four daughters before finally giving birth to a son who would become heir, but only after consulting the mystic “Dr.” Phillipe. When their son, Alexei, was diagnosed as a hemophiliac, once again they turned to mystic medicine, enlisting the “holy man” Rasputin to help alleviate Alexei’s pain and suffering. Meanwhile, Nicholas was making horrible political decisions, further alienating the poverty-stricken peasants, and clamping down on the growing call for a more democratic form of government. World War I brought more bad decisions, and soon the soldiers were also suffering because of the government’s refusal to face reality and pay for winter boots, coats, ammunition, and other basic necessities. Nicholas left Alexandra in charge of running Russia while he went off to Stavka to act as Commander in Chief of the Army. With the insane Rasputin advising Alexandra on how to run the country, things fell apart rapidly. Beseeched by his ministers to DO something to quell the tide of unrest throughout Russia, Nicholas continued to be oblivious and insisted that everything was fine. Revolution inevitably broke out, and the family was rounded up and imprisoned in their own palace. They were all ultimately moved to Siberia where they were executed along with a few staff members and one of the family dogs.If you’re looking for a nonfiction book that reads like a historical thriller, is filled with intrigue, violence, and presents multiple sides of the same story, look no further. As I was reading this gripping tale, I was constantly brought back to reality by the intermittent sections of alternative primary source history filled with the voices of the peasants, the soldiers, and the revolutionaries. Whenever I was tempted to feel sorry for any of the Romanovs, I would read the stories of peasants dying of starvation while the Romanov children misbehaved and played tricks on their tutors; or tales of soldiers who were led like lambs to the slaughter against the enemy while Nicholas spent his time taking walks, naps, watching movies, or listening to music on his phonograph. The contrast, carefully orchestrated by Candace Fleming, was palpable. The message, that history is never black and white, was crystal clear.Highly recommended for grades 7-12.