This is one overwhelming volume that spans over 300 years, with precision and an eye on the shocking. With so little abridged and too many footnotes, this might have been better in two volumes. The nineteenth century is easier to read if only because there are more sources and most of us are more familiar. Not to be missed for the unforgiving telling of all the lascivious tidbits and arbitrary rules and mores.
The book details 300 years of despotism in which the Romanov Tsars and Tsarinas brutally subjugated and ruthlessly exploited multiple millions. Here we read about rulers who believed the ‘divine right of kings’ permitted them to do anything they pleased, without having to answer to anyone, human or divine. These outwardly religious autocrats behaved as if they did not even have to answer to the Almighty. Galatians 6:7-8 reads, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption...” While reading the Bible, they either skipped over these verses or read them and decided they did not apply to Emperors and Empresses.
It is little wonder this debauched and dissolute dynasty ended in a bloodbath. I only wonder why it took the Russian people so long to rid themselves of such tyrants.
Lord Acton came to the conclusion that, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." I think you will agree with the man after reading The Romanovs.
Despite the NY Times, I found this to be a highly readable introduction to the Romanov history. The NY Journal's review siting the treachery, debauchery scheming, maneuvering and incompetence, not to mention, barbarity is spot on.
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