Monday, November 17, 2014

2014 book 275

Candace Fleming's The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia
It's this year's pick for Thanksgiving Sister Book Club! (We're doing a theme: after we talk about it, we're going to watch the cartoon Anastasia). I'm a big history nerd, but figured a YA history book wouldn't be too onerous for the less nerdy, and this has gotten great reviews. I will say that this  almost reads like a textbook, with sidebars and everything. (That's not an insult! It would be a very engaging and informative textbook.) That is, aside from the overuse of exclamation points (and I say that as a heavy user of exclamation points), which I felt were kind of out of place: They were invited to a ball! Workers earned 70 cents a month! The entire family had been placed under house arrest! etc.  Fleming does a great job showing the VERY great contract between the ridiculous lives of the royalty and the terrible lives of the working class, and everything else that led up to the Revolution. I mean, no matter how many books I read about it, I am constantly amazed at what a clueless ruler Nicholas was. I also appreciated the look at anti-Semitism and the pogroms that resulted--encouraged by Nicholas! Fleming doesn't romanticize him a bit in this book, which is a nice change. I did wish for more on the Grand Duchesses, but there's always The Romanov Sisters for a follow-up. And there's not really enough on how Lenin became a leader (there are a few short Lenin interludes, but I felt like the gaps were too large). She does do a great job of contextualizing the murder of the family, including the children (well, young adults/teenagers) and the family servants. Solid bibliography/endnotes too. But I do kind of feel like I accidentally read a textbook. A-/B+.

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