Title: The Romanovs: 1613-1918
Author: Simon Sebag Montefiore
Page Count: 657
Publication Date: 2016
Category/Genre: History, Non-Fiction, Cultural, Russia, Politics
Good Reads Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.95)
My Rating: ★★★★☆(4.0)
The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world’s surface for three centuries. How did one family turn a war-ruined principality into the world’s greatest empire? And how did they lose it all?
This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. Simon Sebag Montefiore’s gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance, with a global cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries and poets, from Ivan the Terrible to Tolstoy and Pushkin, to Bismarck, Lincoln, Queen Victoria and Lenin.
The prompt for my 2020 Reading Challenge was to read a book written by or about a person or culture not your own.
I chose to delve headfirst into Russian history with one of the most infamous dynasties in the world. The Romanovs begins in 1613, with the ascension of Michael I, the first Romanov tsar. It ends in 1917, with the brutal murder of Nicholas II, the last Romanov tsar.
There are wars, coups, sex, revolutions, betrayals, assassinations, dramatic blunders, torture, catastrophic flaws, incest, affairs, and limitations of human beings in power. If you are looking for a real-life Game of Thrones, this is probably going to be your best bet.
Montefiore is a well-respected historian and he really has a way with words, creating a very compelling (albeit hefty – clocking in 650+ pages) historical account of this family. Far from pedantic, this read more like a novel with all of the dramatic events and unique personalities. The family tree and cast of characters at the beginning of each section is quite helpful to keep track of it all.
In the end, it was amazing to think that all of this and all of these people did exist. History can certainly be very wild.