From the bestselling author of Stalin and The Last Tsar comes The Rasputin File, a remarkable biography of the mystical monk and bizarre philanderer whose role in the demise of the Romanovs and the start of the revolution can only now be fully known.
For almost a century, historians could only speculate about the role Grigory Rasputin played in the downfall of tsarist Russia. But in 1995 a lost file from the State Archives turned up, a file that contained the complete interrogations of Rasputin’s inner circle. With this extensive and explicit amplification of the historical record, Edvard Radzinsky has written a definitive biography, reconstructing in full the fascinating life of an improbable holy man who changed the course of Russian history.
Those that are follows of my blog know that this is one of my favorite times of history to read about. If you have ever considered history a boring topic, then you have never read about the fall of the Romanov dynasty, and the surrounding history that led up to the Russian revolution. The ultimate love story, with a dying heir to the Russian throne, as well as the entire involvement of Rasputin, the man that is credited with all kinds of horrifying behaviors, all of which led to the downfall of Czar Nicholas II, and his family. With star crossed lovers, revolution, murder/attempted murder (all involving one man), the destruction of a family in a basement room, and the world first (and most expensive) bullet proof vest — there really isn’t much missing from this story!
This book is based on a lost investigation file that only resurfaced after the fall of the Communist Russian government, in 1995. It was at this point that the world was to learn of just how involved Grigory Rasputin was at being a catalyst to the Russian revolution, which led to the ending of the Tsars in Russian history. The file is filled with interrogations of many of the people that made up the intimate circles of Rasputin, himself. And it is through these interrogations that a clearer picture of the character of Rasputin evolves.
Charged as a holy man, a healer, a counselor and confidant to the royal family, he was also accused of philandering, rape, sexual misconduct of every imagination, and political misdeeds that brought shame upon the Russian monarchy. The target of more than one assassination attempt, Rasputin is a man of the stuff of legends. And in fact he is even considered the source of several legends. The night of his death, having been poisoned, beaten, stabbed, and ultimately drowned in the frozen river — there were some that even considered him nearly immortal.
His intimate connection to the Romanov’s is considered a matter of public record. And yet the more you read of this book, the more you come to realize how much was never really known about this man. Depending on the source of the information, depends on the picture that develops — and even putting all the pictures together, you come away with an uncertain image of a very influential, and dangerous person, in a very subversive way. In the end it is still uncertain what his motivation was, fame, wealth, recognition. He seemed to be seeking all of them and none of them, depending on whose point of view you were to use.
This is a book that I picked up because the title really caught my attention. I recognized the name, but I never knew the history. And after reading this book, I was hooked. Rasputin is the type of person that makes the perfect character in a book. No motivation, at least not on the surface, the man seemed to honestly believe in the service he seemed to be performing for the royal family. But no one ever seemed to figure out what that service really was. And the allegations and speculation of his influence over the Royal family was vast and vulgar in almost every sense.
The Tsarina insisted that if it were not for his miraculous healing powers, the Tsaravich would never have lived as long as he did. And yet other’s insisted he was a fraud that was nothing more than a crude peasant that had, beyond all belief, become the lover of the most powerful woman in Russia.
This isn’t a book that provides a lot of answers about who Rasputin was. But it does give you an interesting look into a startling character from history. This is a man that has been associated with great miracles, ultimate evil, some even suggested that he was the servant of the devil himself. It was believed that he was beyond men’s ability to kill him, and some believe that he even out lived the Romanov family, which he single handedly pulled down. This is a man that is one of the most fascinating characters of history to read about. And this book is a great source for reading about him.
I also came away from this book with a great appreciation for the rich religious history of the Russian culture. Having grown up in the United States, I was always taught that the Russians were a godless people that suppressed religion of any kind with a fanatical strangle hold. I was amazed at the beautiful insight given into the religious culture and heritage that has survived in the Russian people for hundreds of years. It is a great insight into the cultural structure of the Russian people — not just based on a man considered a raving lunatic, but the beauty of the religious beliefs as a whole come through in this book.
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[...] the story of the Romanov’s several years ago, when I came across a book that had the name Rasputin in the title. At the time, I was familiar with the name, but not the man behind it. So, picking [...]