304 pages; published July 2014
The history of the fall of Tsarist Russia and how the stage was set for a Stalinist Communist take-over is told through an intimate look at the family of Russia’s final Tsar, Nicholas II, and through the stories of the beaten-down peasants and workers who toiled to survive under his cruel reign.
In this excellently researched and written book, history is told in a style that combines informative with riveting and emotionally wrenching. The personal life of Tsar Nicholas II is laid bare. Pathetically unsuited for the task, the Tsar wanders between dangerous inaction and ill-advised, brutal crackdowns that fuel the flame of the Russian revolution. His family is insulated, spoiled, out-of-touch, and just weird. The misery of the Russian workers and peasants knows no bounds. Their stories are interwoven, told in stark terms in the words of those who manage to survive the horror. The arc of the Russian revolution and the mess that led to the country being passed from cruel royalty to vicious dictator becomes disturbingly clear. More fascinating that most novels, this history book should be an easy sell to teen and adult readers alike.
- I cannot even get my mind around the numbing desperation of Russian peasant life. I don’t ever want to be a Russian peasant. Or deposed royalty for that matter.
- Nicholas II was certainly prone to monstrous behavior, but this book also – to my great fascination – makes him quite the object of pity. It seems like he could have been a fairly decent, somewhat peculiar guy if he has been born a modern middle class American, allowed to have a little job and dote on his wife and family.
I’ll Recommend This to …
- Readers with any amount of interest in history, World War II, or Russia
- Anyone looking for a fast, high-interest read
- People who like real, sad stories with lots of pictures of the real, sad people
- Students who teachers allow them to explore the possibility that there is value to knowing history outside of American history
- Fans of narrative non-fiction