The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia

( 5 )

Overview

“[A] superb history.... In these thrilling, highly readable pages, we meet Rasputin, the shaggy, lecherous mystic...; we visit the gilded ballrooms of the doomed aristocracy; and we pause in the sickroom of little Alexei, the hemophiliac heir who, with his parents and four sisters, would be murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.” —The Wall Street Journal
 
Here is the tumultuous, heartrending, true story of the Romanovs—at once an intimate ...
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Overview

“[A] superb history.... In these thrilling, highly readable pages, we meet Rasputin, the shaggy, lecherous mystic...; we visit the gilded ballrooms of the doomed aristocracy; and we pause in the sickroom of little Alexei, the hemophiliac heir who, with his parents and four sisters, would be murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.” —The Wall Street Journal
 
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 Russia's poor masses, making this an utterly mesmerizing read as well as a perfect resource for meeting Common Core standards.

"An exhilarating narrative history of a doomed and clueless family and empire." —Jim Murphy, author of Newbery Honor Books An American Plague and The Great Fire

"For readers who regard history as dull, Fleming’s extraordinary book is proof positive that, on the contrary, it is endlessly fascinating, absorbing as any novel, and the stuff of an altogether memorable reading experience." —Booklist, Starred

"Marrying the intimate family portrait of Heiligman’s Charles and Emma with the politics and intrigue of Sheinkin’s Bomb, Fleming has outdone herself with this riveting work of narrative nonfiction that appeals to the imagination as much as the intellect." —The Horn Book, Starred

A Robert F. Sibert Honor Book

A YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award Finalist 

Winner of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction

Winner of the 2015 Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children
A 2015 Sibert Honor Book
A 2015 Finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 04/28/2014
Making vibrant use of primary sources that emerged since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Fleming (Amelia Lost) brings to life the last imperial family of Russia. Writing with a strong point of view based on diary entries, personal letters, and other firsthand accounts, she enriches their well-known story with vivid details. The narrative begins in February 1903 (with some flashbacks to the meeting of tsar Nicholas and German-born tsarina Alexandra) and also features primary sources from peasants and factory workers—including an excerpt from Maxim Gorky’s 1913 memoir—that help to affectingly trace the increasingly deplorable conditions and growing discontent that led to the Russian Revolution; key figures such as Rasputin and Lenin are profiled in some depth. Fleming’s fulsome portraits of Nicholas and Alexandra, along with her depiction of their devoted relationship, highlight the role their personalities played in their downfall, as well as that of their beloved country. A wonderful introduction to this era in Russian history and a great read for those already familiar with it. Ages 12–up. Agent: Ethan Ellenberg, Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency. (July)
VOYA, August 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 3) - Diane Colson
They did not know that they were about to be shot dead. As the family of ex-tsar Nicholas gathered in the cellar, the youngest girl, Anastasia, smuggled in her dog. Moments later, the entire family, including the dog, lay lifeless on the dirty floor. The Romanov family had ruled Russia for three hundred years. How had they come to such a tragic end? Fleming answers that question by beginning with the meeting of the reluctant ruler, Nicholas, and his German-born wife, Alexandra. They shared a passionate bond that seemed fated to cripple the monarchy. Nicholas yielded to the guidance of his wife, who was dedicated to a self-purported mystic named Rasputin. Both parents were deeply devoted to their children; four girls and one son, Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia. Fleming keeps the reader close to the Romanov family as she relates the fateful sequence of events that led to their execution. There was war against Germany, which Russian soldiers fought with little ammunition or supplies. Families in the cities and villages were starving to death for lack of bread. There was an emerging philosophy called communism, espoused by Vladimir Lenin, that promised an equal distribution of Russia’s wealth. Nicholas, wrapped in his own comforts and close family, did not comprehend the turmoil outside the palace walls. Fleming organizes the narrative of these events masterfully, guiding the reader through a complex period of history and always winding back to the Romanov children. Photographs, a map, and extensive source notes add to the power of this heart-wrenching story, a must-have for all libraries. Reviewer: Diane Colson; Ages 12 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-05-12
Fleming examines the family at the center of two of the early 20th century's defining events.It's an astounding and complex story, and Fleming lays it neatly out for readers unfamiliar with the context. Czar Nicholas II was ill-prepared in experience and temperament to step into his legendary father's footsteps. Nicholas' beloved wife (and granddaughter of Queen Victoria), Alexandra, was socially insecure, becoming increasingly so as she gave birth to four daughters in a country that required a male heir. When Alexei was born with hemophilia, the desperate monarchs hid his condition and turned to the disruptive, self-proclaimed holy man Rasputin. Excerpts from contemporary accounts make it clear how years of oppression and deprivation made the population ripe for revolutionary fervor, while a costly war took its toll on a poorly trained and ill-equipped military. The secretive deaths and burials of the Romanovs fed rumors and speculation for decades until modern technology and new information solved the mysteries. Award-winning author Fleming crafts an exciting narrative from this complicated history and its intriguing personalities. It is full of rich details about the Romanovs, insights into figures such as Vladimir Lenin and firsthand accounts from ordinary Russians affected by the tumultuous events. A variety of photographs adds a solid visual dimension, while the meticulous research supports but never upstages the tale.A remarkable human story, told with clarity and confidence. (bibliography, Web resources, source notes, picture credits, index) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)
From the Publisher
Kirkus starred review, May 15, 2014:
“A remarkable human story, told with clarity and confidence.”

Publishers Weekly starred review, April 28, 2014:
“A wonderful introduction to this era in Russian history and a great read for those already familiar with it.”

Booklist starred review, June 1, 2014:
"For readers who regard history as dull, Fleming’s extraordinary book is proof positive that, on the contrary, it is endlessly fascinating, absorbing as any novel, and the stuff of an altogether memorable reading experience."

The Horn Book
starred review, July/August 2014:

"Fleming has outdone herself with this riveting work of narrative nonfiction that appeals to the imagination as much as the intellect."

School Library Journal starred review, June 2014:
"
This is both a sobering work, and the account of the discovery of their bones and the aftermath is at once fascinating and distressing. A solid resource and good recreational reading for high school students."

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books starred review, September 2014:
“With comprehensive source notes and bibliographies of print and online materials, this will be a boon to student researchers, but it’s also a heartbreaking page-turner for YAs who prefer their nonfiction to read like a novel.”

From the Hardcover edition.

Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
The Romanov Dynasty ruled Russia for three hundred years until Nicholas and Alexandra and their five children were murdered in the basement of a house in Ekaterinburg, Russia on July 17, 1918. Fleming clearly presents the people and events that led to this shocking event. She provides insight into members of the royal family, children as well as adults, through their actions and reactions to both personal and state events. She shows how Alexandra’s dependence on Rasputin and Nicholas’ dependence on Alexandra often led to poor decisions. Readers will gain understandings of World War I and the rise of communism and the roles they play in the demise of the dynasty. Captioned black and white photographs add to the reader’s comprehension. The last chapter includes a page from a Petrograd professor’s life under Lenin and brings the reader up-to-date on the recent DNA findings and sainthood for the Romanovs. Nicholas and Alexandra’s family trees, provided at the beginning, have been simplified (or “reluctantly pruned,” says Fleming) to show relationships to other European royalty. The author has also indicated which family members were carriers or suffered from hemophilia. A map of Russia provides a sense of the vastness of the Russian Empire and the locations which are mentioned in the book. The Bibliography presents primary sources and general sources, online resources, and well-documented chapter notes, and an index. Fleming has written an important, fascinating, and insightful view. This is a must read. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo; Ages 12 up.
School Library Journal
★ 06/01/2014
Gr 9 Up—The tragic Romanovs, last imperial family of Russia, have long held tremendous fascination. The interest generated by this family is intense, from debates about Duchess Anastasia and her survival to the discovery of their pathetic mass graves. A significant number of post-Glasnost Russian citizens consider the Romanovs holy to the extent that the Russian Orthodox Church has canonized them. This well-researched and well-annotated book provides information not only on the history of these famous figures but also on the Russian people living at the time and on the social conditions that contributed to the family's demise. The narrative alternates between a straightforward recounting of the Romanovs' lives and primary source narratives of peasants' lives. The contrast is compelling and enhances understanding of how the divide between the extremely rich and the very poor can lead directly to violent and dramatic political change. While the description and snippets on the serfs and factory workers are workmanlike, the pictures painted of the reclusive and insular Romanovs is striking. Unsuited to the positions in which they found themselves, Nicholas and Alexandra raised their children in a bubble, inadequately educating them and providing them only slight exposure to society. The informative text illuminates their inability to understand the social conditions in Russia and the impact it might have had on them. This is both a sobering work, and the account of the discovery of their bones and the aftermath is at once fascinating and distressing. A solid resource and good recreational reading for high school students.—Ann Welton, Grant Elementary School, Tacoma, WA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375867828
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 7/8/2014
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 36,577
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 950L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Candace Fleming is the prolific and highly acclaimed author of numerous books for young adults and children, including the nonfiction titles The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary, winner of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Nonfiction; Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart, a New York Times Notable Children’s Book of the Year; and The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P. T. Barnum, an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults. She lives in Oak Park, Illinois. Visit her at candacefleming.com.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2015

    Fascinating story about the final Tsar and his family

    Well researched--pages and pages of documentation. Well written; I couldn't put it down! A sad human story of miscommunication and naiveté about governing. A close-knit family living in a cocoon of wealth and privilege and not sensitive to the plight of others.

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  • Posted November 24, 2014

    I have a minor obsession with this area of Romanov/Russian histo

    I have a minor obsession with this area of Romanov/Russian history. And yes, it was brought on by 1997's Anastasia. Since then, I have read a few biographies, a couple of articles, and became once again enraptured with this family in 2007 when the remains of Anastasia (or Marie) and Alexi were found.

    When given the opportunity to read The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming, I knew I couldn't pass it up. Each time I read a biography I always learn something new and Candace's book was no exception.

    What I truly loved about The Family Romanov is that Candace doesn't just focus on the Romanov family, she also talks about the state of Russia and her people. Knowing what was going on outside of the Romanov family is eye opening as I understood where its citizens were coming from and why they wanted to overthrow Nicholas II and the monarchy. 

    Sometimes I have trouble with non-fiction novels. I start out excited to read it and learn about these people, but then after a while I feel like I'm being taught by Ben Stein from Ferris Buller's Day Off. With The Family Romanov. With The Family Romanov, I had zero problems. Candace's writing is wonderfully done and doesn't give the book a feeling of non-fiction. I didn't feel like I was being taught, I felt like I was reading a fictional narrative. I was entranced, engaged, and looking forward to turning the page.

    For any individual interested in the Romanovs, I highly recommend this book. Since Candace focuses on both the family and Russian history, know that going into you're not going to learn a lot about the familial relationships and what they are each going through specifically as she balances her narrative equally between the Romanovs and Russia. She does touch on the Grand Ducheeses and Alexi, but most of her focus is on Nicholas and Alexandra.

    For me it wasn't a huge deal as I know a lot of the family, but someone who doesn't know so much may be a little disappointed. However, knowing/understanding what the Russian people were going through was exceptionally enlightening in understanding this period of history.

    Incredibly researched, The Family Romanov is a must for anybody interested in this period or anybody looking to get their toes wet. Even for those who have trouble trudging through facts, I know you'll enjoy this book. I learned so many things and experienced so many emotions - this is by no means an easy read, but it is a read that has stuck with me.

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  • Posted November 16, 2014

    Just started reading this... and will shelve it while a read a c

    Just started reading this... and will shelve it while a read a couple others. My impression so far is that it isn't so much stressing the historical,  as it is the social. If I were a young child reading this, I would be left with a definite distaste for the greedy rich. But we'll see how the author manages they events of the Revolution, the ruthlessness of the Bolsheviks, and the coldness of Lenin. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2014

    Lots of clear information about the Romanovs and what happened.

    Lots of clear information about the Romanovs and what happened. However, it reads as though it was written for a grade school text or maybe even middle school, and I find it hard to believe that either one would be studying Russian history. I wish I'd known before buying it that she intended it for 'young adults'; that is in the description but I guess I never thought young adults would be all that interested in the causes of the Russian Revolution.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2015

    No text was provided for this review.

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