He demonstrated that gift in earlier books, for example describing the prolonged death of Joseph Stalin in The Court of the Red Tsar , a horrific farce that assimilates a dozen or more firsthand perspectives. Embodied in the holy spirit of the tsar, in whom all authority resided, Russian nationalism held off invaders and maintained order and some version of justice for two centuries. Autocracy eventually, belatedly, ended serfdom, and led Russia into the modern era — and to disaster.
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The Romanovs is a study of autocratic government itself, and its fatal reliance on inherited merit. In fact, as many readers probably know, if Catherine the Great's son Paul was the offspring of her lover Saltykov, which he probably was, rather than of her husband Peter III, the Romanov bloodline ended not in but in As democratic and revolutionary thinking spread through Europe in the 19th century, the Romanovs chose not to reform Russia's system, but to entrench their authority.
They paid a significant price. Montefiore portrays an entire family relentlessly stalked by assassins "like wild game" — and growing ever more insular, inclusive and incompetent.
Like a novel, too, this is a hard book to put down. As historical reconstruction and as storytelling, The Romanovs is an achievement of the first rank.
The Romanovs: 1613-1918 (Hardcover)
The Romanovs: by Simon Sebag Montefiore - Books - Hachette Australia
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