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The Rasputin File

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,380 ratings  ·  140 reviews
Rasputin, one of the most fascinating and controversial figures of the twentieth century, has remained cloaked in the myth of his own devising since his extraordinary ascent to power in the court of Nicholas and Alexandra, the last tsar and tsarina of Russia. Until now.

Edvard Radzinsky, the author of the international bestseller The Last Tsar, had long been frustrated by
Hardcover, 544 pages
Published March 14th 2000 by Nan A. Talese (first published 2000)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  1,380 ratings  ·  140 reviews

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Rebecca McNutt
Hey, does anybody else recall that song by Boney M?
...Sorry. Anyway, The Rasputin File is quite an extensive book on this often quite bizarre historical figure, including details I never even knew. If you're into history, biographies or Russian culture, this is definitely a book I would recommend.
Just a little over a year ago, I asked Santa to bring me some books on historical bastards. This was one of the treats that Santa (or rather, NikNak) responded with.

Prior to reading this, the only thing I really knew about Rasputin was that he was apparently Russia’s greatest love machine (thanks, Boney M). I now know that he was actually just Russia’s most persistent lech, but I also learnt a lot more (including the surprising revelation that this all happened so recently. Thanks to the ready
Dec 18, 2009 rated it did not like it
Awful. Radzinsky's one strong point is his access to the titular file, which enables him to reveal information not found in other accounts of Rasputin and the Romanovs. But he is not a good enough writer to handle the information; this is a clunky, unbearably boring book, full of characters who don't do anything and events that don't portend anything and prose that barely means anything. I don't know if his choppy, fragmented style is the result of something lost in translation, but this was ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
'The Rasputin File' by Edvard Radzinsky is one of those books which have a surface tone, in its English translation, of being a 'lightweight' celebrity expose. However, this book is dense with facts backed up with documentation. It is an academic biography. The author is a television personality as well as a historian who is known for choosing as his subjects those people who reside on the scandalous scale of history's judgement. Radzindky reveals Grigory Efimovich Rasputin (1869 - 1916) like a ...more
Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for a friend and even though my interest on the topic was minimal at the beginning of the work I was completely drawn into the entire Russian empire at that time by the time I was finished. The author gives you more than just a Rasputin biography here which is the main pulling point of this work of non-fiction; he gives you a background and history lesson of the entire Russian court and all of the key players in history at that time rather than just following the path of ...more
Jan 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 24, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, own
For a man who is incredibly fascinating, this book was a real snoozefest.
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
I'm just not enough of a history buff to read something quite this detailed, so maybe I have myself to blame for getting bogged down in this. It isn't a bad telling, but it is really detailed at times. And I do have to say that the severe overuse of sentence fragments is pretty distracting.

Having said all of that, the ending is a pretty serious payoff. The author describes "the facts" of what happened the evening of the murder, then tells what he thinks REALLY happened, and that's where it
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got this book as a birthday present from Nick a bunch of years ago and I have finally just gotten around to reading it. Before I even begin, let me just say that I am big into Russian history. Prior to reading this book, I mostly was interested in the Lenin and Stalin periods of Russian history, but this book definately made me want to know more about the period right before it. This book is so great because it is written so much like a novel. It's really exciting and dramatic as the author ...more
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best book about Grigori Rasputin I have found. It is interesting, and not at all dry and boring like a lot of historical books. This book practically wrote an eight page research paper for me. Out of a whole stack of books about Rasputin, this was the one I kept coming back too for references.
Steve Shilstone
This book explains how a mystic peasant holy man debauchee came to darn near rule Russia via his tremendous influence over the tsarina Alexandra, who herself was the power behind her husband Nick's throne.
Timothy Boyd
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the most misunderstood and scariest men every to live. This book covers his life from his discovery as a humble monk to the man behind the throne of Russia. A slow to read but very interesting book. Very Recommended
Aug 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating all around. I couldn't put it down for the longest time.
Jun 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My interest in anything Romanov occasionally borders with obsession so if there is a book about this subject,you can bet I will read it.
Found this one in local bookshop and of course had to buy it although at this point I am very familiar with the story,but here we have fresh files (unearthed from somewhere and sold on Sotheby's auction,presented as a gift to author),photos and less known characters.

It is a huge,occasionally very exhausting story that covers not only royal family and their inner
Moon Rose
Paganism has made an indelible mark in Christianity from the time of its birth, incorporating its antiquated mystic culture into the mainstream of its belief unbeknownst mostly to all, yet it is deeply ingrained in the tradition of the Christian thought. It has somehow created a convoluted world of endless discord in the pursuit of which is the truth, or which is the false.

The mysticism that envelops the figure of Rasputin during the last days of Tsarist Russia best illustrates this fusion of
Hessa Issa
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If only all biographies were like this..
I really loved it and I was really sad when it ended, which is surprising, seeing how I don't get too attached to non-fiction, but those were real people which makes it all that much sadder.
Rasputin's death has always been this bewildering legend to me, and to have it explained and rationalized, it takes the magic out of it. I felt like a child finding out that Santa or the Tooth Fairy don't exist anymore. It was very disenchanting.
I love this biography
Jul 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great writer; great access to materials.
Angelique Simonsen
Well he wasn't the man I thought he was. the other thing I learnt is that you never meddle in Russian politics
Melanie Stout
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to do a quick comparison between two of the world’s most influential manipulators and leaders of cult factions. They are both created covens of followers, who encircled their “Lord” in undulating circles while wearing robes and muttering rapturous spell like chants. They both take great strides to subdue their own flesh (one in mutilation and one in sexual desire), thus making themselves less human and more divine. They both come out of violent and meager beginnings, finding their origins ...more
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of ink has been spilled regarding Rasputin and deciding which spill to taken in required some thought. In the end, I settled on Edvard Radzinsky's puddle for it being by a Russian who had access to sources other authors did not, most particularly the file for which the book is named.

This file is the record of the police interrogations and investigation into Rasputin's murder. It had been lost for decades in the wake of The Great War, two back-to-back revolutions, and a bloody civil war.
In the 90's, the Russian historian Edvard Radzinsky got ahold of a file long thought lost: the interrogations of the Extraordinary Commission, following the February Revolution, of everybody associated with the infamous peasant mystic, Grigory Efimovich Rasputin, whose reputation has since become known the world over in a way that no Siberian mystic has ever accomplished outside of Russia. Radzinsky proceeded to distill the information in these files into this book, the Rasputin File, which has ...more
Jan 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd recommend this book - with one caveat - for anyone who's fascinated by early Twentieth Century Russian history, or a general interest in some of the events that led up to the First World War.

The only significant issue it suffers from is the fact that the author and/or translator makes it a rather heavy-going read, so quite a bit of patience is needed to see it through to the end. If you persevere with it though, I'd say it's a thorough and insightful attempt to explain a very complicated and
Jul 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to imagine a biography of Rasputin being complete without the documents that Radzinsky has unearthed. These are the police reports, official testaments and interviews with the different people that had a chance to interact with the man. Long thought destroyed, they magically popped up in an auction in Paris, and as luck would have it Radzinky got a hold of them.

Radzinsky most definitely makes an exhaustive attempt of telling what Rasputin's life was like and who people believed he was
Diane Supinski
The one thing I will say about this book is that it definitely had a lot of information as well as a large cast of characters. That is why I gave it a rating of 3 stars. I tried to keep track of everyone, and the reference guide at the beginning of the book helped, but it still was confusing. I also think the author put in too many excerpts from the "file" The "file" was the main source of reference for the book. Having said that, I still got the gist of it, which is, an uneducated peasant had a ...more
Whew. Took me a long time to get through this one. I guess I liked it, but I can't give a rave review. Although I learned quite a few facts and factoids about Rasputin and this period of Russian history, I don't feel I gained any understanding of the man, his contemporaries or the times. However, that might have been the author's point: it was a crazy time, and Rasputin and his motivations may be impossible to understand. Given that, I don't think that the much-touted "Rasputin File" shed as ...more
Allison Grindle
I was disappointed by this book. I feel I don't know much more about Rasputin the person despite a long 500-page slog through this book. I don't know if the writing felt clumsy because of the translation or because the author is a poor writer. You can certainly tell he is a TV presenter as his fragmented sentences would clearly lend themselves to a dramatic TV show. The cast of characters is enormous and you don't necessarily gain much by reading about all the minor people. What apparently ...more
Nov 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia, history
When I was young I thought that Rasputin was fictional like Ebenezer Scrooge or Simon Legree--a exaggerated character representing a real truth. Rasputin was not a made up character. He was a real living person who figured heavily in the lives of the Romanov family and the lead up to the Russian Revolution, but the true history of his life is not easy to discover.

This book purports to use original letters, diaries and police reports to present an unbiased biography of Rasputin, but it doesn't
With a background in dramatics, Radzinsky clearly wrote this book with that element in mind. He demonstrated that he could be either melodramatic and sometimes even condescending in many parts of his work where it was unwarranted. His thoughts and series of conclusions are often flawed and not based on supporting evidence. For example, he prefered to assume that the Yar incident had occurred rather than carefully examine the relevant depositions in the File he had the unique opportunity to ...more
I own, and have read, dozens of books about Rasputin. This one is the biggest. I am thinking of reading only the right-hand pages... Don't read it in bed because you will be injured when you fall asleep and it falls on your face.

The author has in his possession a file on Rasputin which was sold at Sotheby's but rightfully belongs to the Russian archives (i.e. stolen). In spite of this massive pile of "new" information, which the author regurgitates (view spoiler)
I wanted to give this book a higher rating - after all - I liked it enough to read all 503 pages! It started off very promising. Radzinsky's basic questions about Rasputin were similar to my own (and everyone else's). Unfortunately, despite access to a file missing from the Soviet archives for decades - he sort of muddled this fascinating part of Russian history up for me. I can't explain it. His quotes and references are great - he pieced the story of the strange power Rasputin held over the ...more
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Radzinsky (Russian: Эдвард Радзинский) is an author of more than forty popular non-fiction books on historical subjects. Since the 1990s, he has written the series Mysteries of History. The books translated to English include his biographies of Tsars Nicholas II and Alexander II, Rasputin, and Joseph Stalin. His book Stalin: The First In-depth Biography Based on Explosive New Documents from ...more
“En aquella misma época Rasputín empezó a hacer recomendaciones graciosas a los zares. "Encuentra que deberías ordenar a las faktorías [fábricas] que fabricasen municiones, simplemente tú da la orden; incluso elegir qué faktoría, si te muestran una lista [...]. Sé más autocrático, Cariño mío, muestra tu voluntad (14/06/1915).

Es curioso, pero Rasputín sugería medidas que recuerdan al imperio bolchevique de los tiempos de Stalin, que durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial convirtió, con mano de hierro, todas las fábricas para suplir las necesidades del frente. Rasputín propondría lo mismo: "29 de agosto de 1915 [...] Pero Nuestro Amigo cree que más fábricas deberían hacer munición, además de las mercancías que producen".

¡Y el zar trataba de llevar a cabo tales sugerencias! Junto con la nacionalización y la militarización de las fábricas, se efectuó la expropiación obligatoria de los productos alimenticios de los campesinos y terratenientes. Se hacía todo lo que aconsejaba Rasputín. [...] Algunas de las medidas que fueron instituidas durante el comunismo de guerra después de la Revolución, de hecho ya habían sido propuestas antes de Lenin por el campesino ruso Grigori Rasputín. Y llevadas a cabo por el último zar.”
“Poco antes de su muerte, el campesino había empezado a hablar con la zarina de un aumento de "la paga a todos los oficiales pobres del país" para reforzar la maquinaria del Estado en tiempos difíciles. Su idea de cómo obtener el dinero para ello suena divertida en boca de la zarina de Rusia: "siempre se puede obtener dinero de algunos capitales", escribiría Alix a su marido el 25 de septiembre de 1916. Es decir, simplemente apoderarse del dinero de los ricos.

Aquel antiguo sueño campesino también sería puesto en práctica por los bolcheviques. No era ninguna casualidad que Bonch-Bruévich, el futuro amigo íntimo de Lenin, camarada de armas y fundador de la sangrienta Checa, se mostrara en sus artículos encantado con el "inteligente e ingenioso campesino". [...] Para poner a prueba su "don de conocer a la gente", Bonch-Bruévich mostró a Rasputín un retrato de cierta persona querida. Al ver el retrato, escribió Bonch-Bruévich:

"Rasputín se puso muy nervioso. "¿Quién es? Dime, ¿quién es?". Se precipitó hacia la pared de donde colgaba el cuadro en el que estaba pintado el rostro orgulloso e inteligente de un hombre mayor.
"¡Bueno, es alguien importante! ¡Dios mío! ¡Es un Sansón, amigo mío, un verdadero Sansón, sí señor! ¡Preséntamelo! ¡Iremos a verle ahora mismo! ¡Es alguien a quien deberían seguir regimientos enteros!" Y Rasputín se apresuró a encender una luz eléctrica que había junto al cuadro para poder observar mejor la cara de aquel hombre extraordinario. Le dije que se trataba de Karl Marx".”
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