A Lifelong Passion: Nicholas and Alexandra: Their Own Story

Nicholas Romanov, Author, Sergei Mironenko, Editor, Andrei Maylunas, Editor Doubleday Books $35 (688p) ISBN 978-0-385-48673-6
Members of Russia's royal Romanov family were compulsive letter-writers and diary-keepers. By splicing the writings of Czar Nicholas II, his wife, Empress Alexandra, their children, relatives and confidants with excerpts from memoirs and supporting documents (newly released by the Russian State Archive, much of the material is published here for the first time), this chronologically organized documentary provides a lustrous, highly revealing and involving family portrait. It opens in 1881 with the assassination of 12-year-old Nicholas's grandfather, Czar Alexander II, and closes in 1918 with the Bolshevik murder of Nicholas, Alexandra, their children and servants. Noteworthy among the diary entries are the tortured, guilt-ridden confessionals of Nicholas's cousin, Grand Duke Konstantin, poet, intellectual, translator of Hamlet and closet homosexual, and the premonitory rumblings of the czar's sister, Grand Duchess Xenia, who scorns the royal couple's worshipful infatuation with Siberian peasant Grigory Rasputin. Most moving of all is the unwavering devotion and love between Nicholas and Alexandra. Replete with scandals, romance, rocky marriages and murders, the Romanovs' writingsDat times banal, more often vivid and intenseDreveal just how out of touch they were with the common people. This volume is a treasure for students of Russian history. Maylunas, a Russian-born Romanov specialist, lives in Vienna. Mironenko is director of the Russian State Archive. Photos. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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