On completion: The author of this book, Steven Lee Myers, was the New York Time's Moscow Bureau Chief until 2007. As a journalist stationed in MoscowOn completion: The author of this book, Steven Lee Myers, was the New York Time's Moscow Bureau Chief until 2007. As a journalist stationed in Moscow he has followed all that has happened in Russia in close detail. In this book he traces Putin's rise to power, his years in the presidency from 2000 as well as his collaboration with Dimitry Medvedev during 2008 through 2011. The book is detailed, well researched, extremely thorough and could not be more up-to-date! Even events of 2015 are included. The presentation is chronological.
The book provides a complete summary all that has been in the news concerning Russia over the last decades. What exactly? Examples follow: - Gorbachev's reign - Yeltsin's reign - the wars in Chechnya - missile defense discussions - the sinking of the submarine Kursk in the Barents Sea - the Moscow theater siege and hostage crisis (2002) - the suicide bombing of two domestic Russian aircraft in 2004 - Ivan Rybkin's kidnapping in 2004 when he accused the Putin administration of complicity in the 1999 bomb attacks in Moscow which led to the Second Chechen War - the Beslan school siege and hostage crisis (2004), - the expropriation/dismantling of the Yukos Oil Company in 2005 - the poisoning and death of Alexander Litvinenko (2006) - the Russian offensive in Georgia in 2008 and of course - the recent annexation of the Crimea (2014).
So you think the list is long? I have named but a few of the many, many incidents cited in this book, all of which have received widespread media coverage. So the book is a great summary of all that has been reported in the news, but the question is if it gives anything new. So many of the ‘crimes’ committed remain without conclusive proof. What exactly is fact and what hearsay? The result is you can believe whatever you want to believe. Russians have chosen to believe one version, and we with what we define as a freer press and more democratic way of life see the events differently. Read in one sweep, you are left thoroughly dismayed by what has occurred in Russia after the fall of the U.S.S.R. One is left frightened by where the world stands today.
Do I now understand Vladimir Putin? I certainly have not gotten into his head! That is impossible; no one is privy to his inner thoughts, and you certainly cannot rely on what he or what he allows the Russian media to say. His control over the media is tight; only recently has any dissent been able to be voiced via the net. Everything personal is covered up. Extremely little is known about his two daughters. Marilya was born 1985, is married to the Dutch Jorrit Faassen and has one child. Yekatarina was born in 1986. She remains unmarried. Vladimir married his wife Lyudmila in 1983. In 2013 the termination of their marriage was publicly announced. The decision was said to be mutual. It is the total lack of information that is most chilling. Do not expect much information about either Putin’s personal thoughts or family! It is his actions we can observe, and one can only make educated guesses at what has happened behind the scenes.
Why is it that Putin has such strong popular support? This was one of the questions I hoped would be answered by reading this book. I do understand the people’s support when he first came in to power - he spoke of eliminating corruption; he promised to get rid of the oligarchies. He reduced taxes. He increased wages. But now? 85% of the people support him. Corruption remains rampant and the standard of living for the large majority remains low. The masses scarcely care what happens to the stock market….. Putin’s almost complete control of the media, the total obliteration of all dissent, the lack of conclusive evidence proving his complicity may explain much, but I also believe one has to understand how Putin plays to the people’s strong sense of patriotism, their inherent love of their country. This comes to the point where it isolates them from rest of the world. While the book shows all this, the question itself is never directly answered head on.
The audiobook is well narrated by Rene Ruiz. Clearly and not too fast, but given the book’s detailed content and many, many foreign names it is very hard to follow in the audio format. I recommend reading the paper book instead.
Due to its extensive political, business and economic detail, the book cannot be seen as a light read, even in the paper format! Only occasionally does ironic humor lighten the load. Yes, I am glad I read the book, but it was a very hard read.
I have listened to about 25%:
I have to be upfront about this - the book puts me to sleep sometimes. So many people I don't recognize. Lines that leave me confused. An overload of facts for my puney brain. Yeah, I guess I am learning about what Putin has done to get where he is today....but do I know the man now? And how much will I remember? I don't think a non-fiction book has to be this dry.
I will continue........
Maybe if I complain it will improve????????! ...more
ETA: So I woke up at 4 AM irritated b/c I had left stuff out of my review. I should have given examples of the humor. One chapter is entitled somethinETA: So I woke up at 4 AM irritated b/c I had left stuff out of my review. I should have given examples of the humor. One chapter is entitled something like, 'Don't Try To Commit Suicide in a Tight Skirt". What else? Svetlana wanted to be cremated after her death. She told her daughter, Olga, to spread her ashes over a river in Wisconsin. Then she got thinking ....her daughter would be accused of polluting the river because they were the ashes of Stalin's daughter! Her daughter spread then over the Pacific.
This book is fantastic!
It is well written, based on solid research, engaging and will leave you rooting for Svetlana. Svetlana who? Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva (1926-2011). Stalin's only daughter, or Lana Peters, the name by which she preferred to be called. The book covers her entire life.
What do I mean by well written? We are presented with both detailed and sometimes contradictory information. When divergent explanations are possible the reader is given adequate information to draw their own conclusion. Many, many quotes are provided, both about Svetlana and from the mouth of Svetlana. Great lines, wise lines, funny lines. There certainly is humor in this book that could have been so dark. Historical events related to her life are those that are presented; there is a perfect balance of personal and historical facts.
The information presented is thorough and detailed, but never dry. Svetlana's life story is utterly fascinating. What she lived through is exciting and will have you on the edge of your seat - not once, not twice, but many times. The book plunges you immediately into her defection in 1967 from the U.S.S.R. Then it backtracks. You must have heard about Frank Lloyd Wright's wives and about Taliesin. Well, Svetlana's fourth husband was Wes Peters, the son of Frank Lloyd Wright's last wife (Olgivanna) and Frank Lloyd Wright's stepson! Anybody who has read The Women by T.C. Boyle will certainly want to read this too. If you have read that you will know of the shenanigans of these architects, of these communal artisans. Their behavior, well, let’s leave it at this, Svetlana fit right in. Sort of, in some ways, until…...
You know what kind of a father she had. Did you know that her mother died when she was six and a half? That her father killed, imprisoned and utterly destroyed many of their own family? That when she defected to the U.S. she left behind two children? There is more you don’t know.
Are you interested in love stories? Svetlana spent her life searching for love.
The reason why I loved this book, beyond the fact that it is well executed, is that Svetlana was such an amazing person.....but human. The author shows you who she was in her soul, intimately and honestly, by her deeds, by her humor, by her anger, by her willingness to say she was sorry, by her humility. She was head-strong. She was volatile and emotional. She had a temper! She was very intelligent. I really admire her. What spunk. What courage. You have to read this book to meet this woman.
Here is one of those few exceptional non-fiction books that is simple to read because it is so engaging, because you have to know what happens. Why? Because you come to care.
This book shows you who Svetlana was in her heart, in her head. I admire her because she never gave up, even though she had such a hard life. You root for her, regardless of her foolish mistakes. Everybody thinks she was wealthy – just forget that! So many lies have been woven around her. You have to read this book to get to the truth.
One word about the audiobook narration by Karen Cass. I wanted to know and remember every detail. I wanted to forget nothing, and for that I need a very slow narration. While Cass does a very good job, I personally wish it had been a bit slower. I don't think others are quite as neurotic about speed as I am.
Now I want to read all the books written by Svetlana Alliluyeva. Unfortunately only some of the titles are listed here at GR. ...more
When I sit in front of the screen and don't know what to write, that is usually a three star book.
Look, I am glad I read it. I certainly did learn abWhen I sit in front of the screen and don't know what to write, that is usually a three star book.
Look, I am glad I read it. I certainly did learn about Winston Churchill. Not only him but also everyone in his family, that is to say grandparents, parents, kids, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and the spouses of all these. You have to also add on the grandparents and parents and kids of the spouses. We are talking a lot of people. Also friends, enemies, work associates. Well-known authors, journalists, presidents.... LOTS of people. It is kind of hard to keep track of everybody. We are talking about upper-class, high echelon figures, royalty and aristocrats. Maybe a few of all those named could have been pared down?
The book not only looks at these people’s personalities, their respective weaknesses and strengths, but also delivers a condensed history of all that Churchill did in his lifetime. He was of course prime minister during WW2, but also again in 1951. His aim was to make a mark on history, and he certainly did! There is a lot of history in the book, and this isn't really indicated in the title. But tell me, how do you write about Churchill and not talk history? It was kind of dry sometimes and a bit long-winded. I thought the language used could have been less convoluted, quite simply more clearly stated. In books like this I prefer clarity over elegance.
I think I understand who Churchill was on completing this book, not just what he did. It was fascinating to see the twisted relationships that developed within the family. Three of his four surviving children had difficult, troubled, unsuccessful lives. Alcohol, gambling, suicide, depression, illegitimate love affairs abound. His youngest daughter, the happy successful one, Mary Soames, I read about here: A Daughter's Tale: The Memoir of Winston and Clementine Churchill's Youngest Child, but it is written by her so Pearson's book offers another point of view. It is not possible to know for sure the cause of the problems that arose, but you do get a pretty good idea.
The narration by John Lee, was clear, but too fast. Churchill was an aristocrat through and through, and Lee makes him sound even more uppity. I guess it fits the text, but I did not like it. There is a peculiar lilt to how he reads the lines; this got on my nerves. ...more
This is one of those books that improves the further you get into it. Halfway through I still considered dumping it. The names used for biblical charaThis is one of those books that improves the further you get into it. Halfway through I still considered dumping it. The names used for biblical characters are in Hebrew, and although they sound similar to the more familiar English names, this adds an element of confusion. Dates are rarely told. Places are often unrecognizable because they too are in Hebrew or ancient and no longer exist. The tribal names are difficult to keep track of. There are many tribes. We are told King David's life story by the prophet Nathan. Nathan is instructed by David whom he should speak to to get more information. Nathan is to record David’s life history, and this is the story we are reading. Nathan gathers information from several individuals and presents what each one says separately. As a result the events are not presented chronologically. This too makes the reading confusing. Another consequence is that the events are told rather than experienced or shown. This is more prominent in the first half of the book.
Due to my confusion while reading the book, I went onto internet to get the basic story. (See the links below.) This made it easier for me to follow, but should this be necessary?! As I read several characters began to stand out. I began to know who was who. I began to understand their personalities - particularly Nathan, King David's first wife Mikhal and Batsheva. Their stories are engaging. You hear the two women’s thoughts as they speak to Nathan. I empathized with them. I understood what they had lived through. I feel Brooks does a better job of portraying the female over the male characters. I did get to know Nathan, because he is telling the story, and then later Solomon too. He is King David's son with Batsheva. This understanding takes shape in the latter portion of the book. There are quite a number of personages to follow. You don't get large sections on each.
It cannot be a spoiler to state that King David was the one to unite the Hebrew tribes. Of course this was done by war. There is scheming and savagery and brutal episodes. I learned what King David did. I learned about his personality through his actions, NOT through his thoughts. I feel David is realistically portrayed, both his savagery and his more favorable attributes. His sexual proclivities are made very clear. What he achieved was no small feat. Through reading this book you get a fuller idea of who he was than by simply reading a quick summary on Wiki. I am glad I read it. The book put meat on the bones of the bare facts found on the Web.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Paul Boehmer. On the whole it was good. He uses different intonations for women, men and children. He reads at a slow pace with pauses to emphasize particular phrases. Sometimes I thought this was great and at other times it annoyed me. I think this was a difficult book to read, and he did an amazingly good job. The Hebrew names were for him no problem at all!
Through chapter 8 (i.e. 42%): I am having serious trouble with this. I knew little about King David when I began the book, only that he united the tribes of Israel, how he defeated Goliath and that his son Solomon built the temple. THAT is why I chose to read it.
I don't like the first person narrative used in the book. We are told the story by Prophet Nathan. This results in our being told about events rather than experiencing them first hand.
I don't like the language. It flips between biblical wording and modern day expressions. I couldn't believe it when in Chapter 7, David says "He couldn't fuck(a maidservant)!" He worried he was becoming impotent. So instead he (view spoiler)[had to have Batsheva instead, the wife of one of his loyal warriors (hide spoiler)]! One minute the language is crude and contemporary. Then come some lines that try to sound antiquated, biblical in tone! With such modern language I do not see why the author has to even bother changing the names to Hebrew. This causes confusion.
There is a stupid comparison between how war is like playing music. David played the harp.
Do you like cinematic writing? I don't. I guess, the author hopes this will be made into a movie.
I went to internet and found these about King David:
First off, let me state that this is an audiobook where I feel the narration is the icing on the cake. It is extremely good. The intonations, the happFirst off, let me state that this is an audiobook where I feel the narration is the icing on the cake. It is extremely good. The intonations, the happiness and the sadness expressed match the words to a tee. French pronunciation is perfect, as well as English and American dialects. I really, really enjoyed the narration. Superb! A delight to listen to. Mary’s memoir is chatty, confidential, so it is not hard to follow in this format.
This is a book about Mary Soames, the youngest child of Winston Churchill. Winston and Clementine had four other children. One died soon after birth. The other three were not nearly as successful or happy. It is rather intriguing to think about this. I can come up with several reasons, but they remain conjectures. Alcoholism can be inherited and Winston certainly was a big drinker! Mary was also the last child, the baby of the family; she scarcely grew up with her siblings or her parents! The book shows this in spades. And then of course all children are different, even brothers and sisters! The book depicts in great detail Mary's childhood. This part of the book is delightful. Pets and trips and sports, wonderful teachers, a devoted nanny and one-to-one relationships with adults. Yes, she was cosseted! She was certainly privileged, but she never becomes haughty or takes others for granted. Meeting her, knowing her through this book, was a pleasure.
Mary is optimistic and cheerful. She has empathy and humor. The humor rolls of the lines. So of course it is a delight to read what she writes. Oh, all these verbs should maybe be in the past tense; she died in 2014. Her personality is reflected in the feeling of the book.
In her teens Mary began to become interested in politics. French and English literature drew her, and you learn of what she read and what was read to her as a child. At an older age she kept detailed diaries. The book follows the diary entries closely. Letters have also been included. What you follow in this book are what she saw and observed and thought of the world she grew up in, of the build up to the war and finally the war years. You see the numerous dignitaries through her eyes, meticulously and amusing recorded in her diary entries. Her diary was originally for her eyes alone, so what she writes is frank. You can’t help but laugh. Because she was sweet, this is a joy to read. She does state when others are grumpy or sour or behave badly, but never in a harsh accusing manner. It is said and you go on. I don't believe she is hiding or holding back unpleasant information. She WAS a happy, optimistic person, at least most of the time. She shows respect and empathy for others in times of difficulty, so her happiness doesn't seem frivolous or exaggerated.
The book covers her years during the war first with the WVS (Women's Volunteer Service) and then the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) where she rose to the rank of captain in an anti-aircraft battery unit. There is a lot of flirting and partying too, but what you see is the life of women volunteers in the war, even if it is clear she was on occasion given special treatment due to the position of her father. The book ends after Winston Churchill lost the election in 1945 at the conclusion of the war. Soon thereafter she meets and marries her husband. The central focus remains her youth and the war years.
Mary was very close to her father. Through this close relationship you learn about her father too, but mostly you learn about Mary. You don't read this book to learn history. The history is there but only to the extent that she was involved, the people she met, her battery job and the support she gave her father.
ETA: I cannot stop thinking about my star rating. I personally did NOT like this book. That isn't to say it is a bad book, but you have to be ready foETA: I cannot stop thinking about my star rating. I personally did NOT like this book. That isn't to say it is a bad book, but you have to be ready for a lot of gossip! I am changing my rating to one star because that is my personal response tot this book. Please read below for a more detailed explanation of the book's content.
While I listened to this audiobook narrated by Carole Boyd I pushed myself to go on. It was that disagreeable….until the end when I was happy I had stuck it out. This book is extremely gossipy. The narration exaggerates this to the point where I could hardly stand it. (Boyd’s French was well executed; I have to praise what I can!) Bertie's life WAS filled with gossip - slander and mistresses and gambling and immoral behavior. He was gossiped about constantly until his death when he was adored. You cannot write a biography of Edward VII, the son of Queen Victoria, without writing about the gossip too. The author’s writing contains tons of gossip, and the narrator is not really at fault when she whispers and draws out sentences, shrieking alternately. The content is gossip and she delivers it in a gossipy manner. But I didn't enjoy it. We are told gossip and then told that probably isn't even true. I was so annoyed I would exclaim, “Then do NOT tell us!” I am wrong because this is what people were saying and the biography should tell us all. The book is clearly very well researched, so I have to give it three stars. No, I didn't enjoy the reading experience, but that is due to my error in choosing an historical figure that would not be to my liking.
What is very interesting is what Edward VII achieved in his reign. He was a political force to contend with, despite the fact that he never gave up his adulterous behavior. The Entente Cordiale was to a large extent of his making.
An additional reason why I had trouble with this book is that Bertie was close-mouthed. He listened. He didn't talk. He never said what he thought so we cannot get inside his head. We can only watch what he does. Neither is this the author's fault.
The double standard of the Victorian Age is extremely evident in this book. This too annoyed ME!
I learned more about Queen Victoria, specifically what she did after the death of her beloved Albert. I highly recommend We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals, but it stops with his death and her role as Queen has to be followed to the end to really understand her. On the other hand Ridley's book does little to elucidate why Queen Victoria's personality; in this book there is no discussion of her youth.
If you don't want the emphasis on the gossipy tone of the book, I recommend reading the paper book over listening to the audiobook. I really hated much of the time spent with this audiobook, but in that it is so well researched I am giving it three stars. And the end was extremely interesting, there is history and facts of a more political nature, that is the years when he was king, and when he was free of Queen Victoria. ...more
This book is a collection of several volumes originally sold separately. Portions of these have been abridged and additional information has been addeThis book is a collection of several volumes originally sold separately. Portions of these have been abridged and additional information has been added. All alterations were done by the author herself, in an effort to improve the content. Thus the book is split up into different sections, each having a specific theme. I liked some sections and disliked others.
The first part is about her childhood and familial relationships. This part was excellent. You see how Eleanor develops from an insecure and naive girl into a strong, independent woman. Watching this transformation is inspiring. You come to understand how and why she changes. You understand how she came to marry Franklin. You also understand the family she married into. This shaped her too.
Then you follow her years with Franklin. He establishes his career, becomes president and dies. How they influenced each other is covered, but historical events are skimmed over. This is not the book to pick if you want the details of Franklin’s political decisions or the war years. There are huge gaps in both historical events and personal relationships. This is an autobiography and clearly Eleanor is telling us what SHE wants said. There is no mention of either her own or her husband's extramarital relationships. It is not just the relationships that are lacking but also Eleanor’s support of Blacks and Jews is scarcely dealt with. I was disappointed that so very much was missing. I wanted to hear more about her efforts to coerce her husband into helping these groups. Oh, and it was strange how she spoke of her husband not as Franklin, but as “my husband”!
After the death of Franklin her role as a UN Delegate and Chairman of the Commission of Human Rights is meticulously covered, but here the writing sounded like a political speeches selling her views against the prevalent beliefs during the Cold War period. This section felt dated and extremely repetitive! I would mutter, "OK, here we go again.......another speech with the same message for the fifth, sixth time!" "Old truths" are proclaimed. This was the part of the book that was most thoroughly covered. She traveled all over the world speaking to political leaders. Much of this section reads as a travelogue recounting all the different places she visited. She worked as a columnist, a speaker and a radio correspondent. She never stopped working; the book follows her through her 75th year, as an activist and speaker of human rights. Her death, three years later, is not covered.
The audiobook is narrated by Tavia Gilbert. This narrator has a young voice, and it worked well for the young, naive Eleanor. As her self-assurance grows it felt more and more misplaced. ...more
While it does not provide new information, it recaptures the sense of the calamity that struck the nation and the world. It is definitely worth listening to, both for those who remember and those too young to remember....more
ETA: I have to add something about the humor in this book...... Both the disgusting antics of the parent and the moral depravity of the era is expressETA: I have to add something about the humor in this book...... Both the disgusting antics of the parent and the moral depravity of the era is expressed through innuendos, irony and sarcasm. So yes there is humor in the lines; we can either laugh or cry.
This book is primarily about Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales (1796 – 1817). She was the only child of George, Prince of Wales, who later became King George IV. Her mother was Caroline of Brunswick. Had she not died in childbirth at the age of 21, she would have become Queen of the United Kingdom. The book is about her troubled youth, her estranged mother and father and how she came to be married to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the first king of Belgium.
Charlotte's parents were constantly bickering, having affairs and using their daughter as a means of hurting each other. Her parents were hated by the English people. She was loved. One thing this book clearly demonstrates is the extent to which adulterous behavior, scandals and gossip infused royalty and the beginning of the 1800s. Had Charlotte not died, Queen Victoria would never have become Queen. The change in tone that Queen Victoria ushered in can only be understood if one is aware of what came before.
The book gives a good feel of those times and of who Charlotte was. Why she was who she was, and what she had to put up with!
The book zips through all the other members of the family and how Queen Victoria came to power. Zip is the word I want to emphasize. You get rapid summaries of the family tree and events. This is not in-depth and for my taste was way to superficial, but then this book is short and is primarily about Charlotte. I did love learning about her.
The narration by Jilly Bond was NOT to my liking. Charlotte sounds like a baby. All the voices were too exaggerated. Please, just read the text; I don't need all the dramatics! The speed with which the lines are read is rapid. ...more
OK, here is my advice: if you want to read about the Tudors read this author; read Alison Weir. Read her non-fiction books. They are better than her bOK, here is my advice: if you want to read about the Tudors read this author; read Alison Weir. Read her non-fiction books. They are better than her books of fiction. Weir manages to make all the facts interesting. She is clear and she knows how to tell the story so it reads as fiction, but every little detail is 100% true! You have surely met people who REALLY know their subject; their knowledge enables them to have every fact at their fingertips. They know all the amusing details too. Alison Weir is one such person.
Furthermore I highly recommend the audiobook narration by Davina Porter. The narration was delightful. I never felt I was listening to a stuffy proper English matron. The quotes are not only perfectly woven into the text by the author but also perfectly intoned by the narrator. The quotes of Elizabeth are both wise and beautifully expressed. I loved the book for the quotes.
And boy do I admire Elizabeth I. Talk about a strong woman.... who had a miserable childhood, and really made something of herself!
There are so many books written about the Tudor era. In this one book you get all those other stories clearly, succinctly told. In a fashion that reads as fiction.
I am a beginner on the theme of Tudor history. I believe that the more you know the more you will appreciate this book. I gave the book four stars because I really liked it.That is what four stars is supposed to mean. It is that simple. I believe that if I were more knowledgeable I would have given it five stars. (If you start knowing a lot you can stuff even more into your head…..) I do not mean that to appreciate this book you must have previously read on the topic. No, the opposite is true. This is a wonderful place to start. Why? Because Alison Weir makes Elizabeth's life so darn interesting. You come to know the people, inside and out. You come to care for them. All the men, all the suitors! Poor, poor Elizabeth; she spent all her life with everyone trying to get her to wed someone! She outwitted them all! She was a marvelous person, a strong person and she did this all alone, albeit with great advisors which she had the talent and wisdom to pick. What a leader! ...more
I personally am without religious faith. Some books demand that you be religious to understand how the characters think and behave. I just finished ThI personally am without religious faith. Some books demand that you be religious to understand how the characters think and behave. I just finished The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra. The religious faith of the girls and their mother is all encompassing and totally comprehensible…even to me. I really like books, like this, that let you experience a whole new way of looking at the world around you; I saw their world through their eyes.
You know what hits me? Everyone is reading horror stories for Halloween. Well, this is a horror story too, a real one.
I enjoyed this book very much, and so have given it four stars. It is by no means my first book on the last Russian czar and his family. I love Massie's Nicholas and Alexandra and highly recommend that too. What Rappaport's book has that is lacking from Massie's is a glimpse at the personalities of the four Grand duchesses: Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia. Having read this book, I feel I know them. The beginning isn’t focused on them. I was muttering, “But this is just the same thing as all the other books on the Romanovs! When am I going to be given the details on the girls?!” Be patient; it comes. Their characters are not simplistically summarized; you follow them from their birth to their death. Some personality aspects change; others remain stable. You see how they react in different situations and at different ages. You get different people's views of the four girls and their brother and mother and father too. Lots of quotes are given so you hear how they responded to each other in varying scenarios. I loved hearing how they girls behaved as children and then later as they worked as nurses in WW1 and finally when imprisoned first in the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo , then in Tobolsk and finally at Ekaterinberg. You learn about the whole family. It was a very close family. Family relationships are a central theme too, but you learn much more about the girls and their mother than father or son. You leave the book with a good understanding of what made each one of them tick and how outside events shaped them into who they were. Nature and nurture, both!
You also get an easily told story of the historical events. You don't get a political analysis of the situation in the Russian Empire. You are delivered a character study with the historical events as they unfold. If you want more go to Massie's book.
You cannot read this book without being horrified. You cannot read this book without getting emotionally invested. You cannot read this book without coming to understand the importance of faith and spiritual belief and love of family and country to Nicholas, Alexandra and their children. Personal decisions and choices affect history.
When I started this audiobook I was displeased with the narration by Xe Sands. She reads rapidly. She reads with emotion. You hear in her intonation her own emotional reaction to the events. She is not giving an unbiased presentation of the lines. There is gossip and she reads these lines with just such a tone. She sounds herself like a gossip when she relates what is being said about the Romanovs. BUT, I grew used to the speed. As I progressed I began to feel the lines simply HAD to be read with emotional fervor. How can you just read without passion....given what was happening? It works because her emotions reflect the author's lines very well.
You cannot read just one book about the last Romanovs. This is worth reading and it is easy to follow. Its strongest focus is on the girls' personalities, with all the rest told too. It has an epilogue that states what happened after the deaths, that is to those who aided them and also those who enhanced their suffering. ...more