The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russiaby Candace Fleming
“[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
From the Hardcover edition.
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
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)
“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.
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)
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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Well Done Teen Non-fiction. I learned a lot about the Romanov Family and of the Russian people during Tsars Nicolas reign. I think the book of well reached. You should keep in mind when reading this if you are an adult, that this book is for teens not adults. Overall this is a good book.
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.
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.
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.
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.