Secret Lives of the Tsars: Three Centuries of Autocracy, Debauchery, Betrayal, Murder, and Madness from Romanov Russia
In three hundred years of history, the Romanovs are bound to have some memorable characters, and they certainly do, as detailed in this book. Peter and his granddaughter Catherine (the Greats) are only two; there were also the imbecilic Feodor; the usurping Sophia; and the commoner Catherine (not the Great); of course there is Alexander, who fought Napoleon; and the most famous Romanov, Nicholas II (the final). Each tsar gets a chapter or so, detailing what the author feels is the most important, overarching theme of the person and the reign. It is usually the most salacious. The Empresses Elizabeth and both Catherines apparently were sexually insatiable, as were most of the Emperors. This may be fun to gossip about for a reign or two, but after three hundred years of the same old, same old, was it really that surprising anymore? Still, it is a rollicking read, irreverent and funny, and gives the scope of history along with the gossip. There is a lot to cover, so it is nice to have a lighter approach. Overall, I enjoyed the tone and the personal details; it is an entertaining and informative overview of this important part of Russian history.
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