Title: The Romanovs: 1613-1918
Author: Simon Sebag Montefiore
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.
Did you ever want to know which nicknames the Romanovs gave their significant other’s genitalia? Then this is the book for you! There’s a lot of information on the family’s sex-life gained from letters and other documents. Now it would be unfair just to talk about the fact that in this book you’ll learn that Alexander II had so much sex that his doctors suggested he should slow down a bit for the sake of his health because you’ll learn a lot more about the Romanov-history than just the naughty parts. And a lot of it will be new, even to people like me who have read about the Romanovs before.
(Though I can’t deny that the naughty bits will probably stay with me most).
The book is very in-depth and doesn’t only talk about the Tsars and their immediate family but also some courtiers and more distant relatives. As a result, the book can be rather confusing (especially if you listen to the audiobook…seriously…I recommend this book but the printed/e-book version where you can leaf back to check who was who is probably the more sensible choice) and while some of the stories about what happened to person X or Z who was a confidant/lover/whatever of one of the rulers are interesting it’s questionable if they are all relevant. There’s a touch of ‘I researched him/her and I didn’t want it to be for nothing so I’ll include that bit’ in some bits.
However, overall that doesn’t matter (and in a non-audio copy you could just skip them after all…), this book is great for those who already have a basic knowledge of the Romanovs but want to know even more. (I do not recommend it for newbies since it’ll probably be too much info at once).