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Tsar: The Lost World of Nicholas and Alexandra

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This spectacular illustrated history tells the story of the last Romanovs - one of the great tragic love stories of all time - with unparalleled vividness & intimacy. The text, which follows Nicholas & Alexandria from their childhood's to the Siberian cellar where their lives ended, is complemented by rare images from the imperial family's private collections (locked away This spectacular illustrated history tells the story of the last Romanovs - one of the great tragic love stories of all time - with unparalleled vividness & intimacy. The text, which follows Nicholas & Alexandria from their childhood's to the Siberian cellar where their lives ended, is complemented by rare images from the imperial family's private collections (locked away for decades in Soviet archives, & published here for the first time), as well as by contemporary full-color photographs of the places & palaces the Romanovs knew.


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This spectacular illustrated history tells the story of the last Romanovs - one of the great tragic love stories of all time - with unparalleled vividness & intimacy. The text, which follows Nicholas & Alexandria from their childhood's to the Siberian cellar where their lives ended, is complemented by rare images from the imperial family's private collections (locked away This spectacular illustrated history tells the story of the last Romanovs - one of the great tragic love stories of all time - with unparalleled vividness & intimacy. The text, which follows Nicholas & Alexandria from their childhood's to the Siberian cellar where their lives ended, is complemented by rare images from the imperial family's private collections (locked away for decades in Soviet archives, & published here for the first time), as well as by contemporary full-color photographs of the places & palaces the Romanovs knew.

30 review for Tsar: The Lost World of Nicholas and Alexandra

  1. 5 out of 5

    MaryannC. Book Freak

    I never get tired reading about The Romanovs. This book presented many photographs of the Tsar and his family that I have never seen, as well more personal info. that I also didn't know about, beautiful depictions of a beautiful family. Sad, haunting, but insightful.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sweetwilliam

    This is really a coffee table book that tells the story of the last Romanovs to rule Russia. Peter Christopher’s photographs serve as a lens into Russia’s magnificent past. This was a time of opulent splendor when monarchs ruled Europe by divine right. The pages are adorned with photos and illustrations of 1,000 room palaces, cathedrals, yachts, coronations, balls, priceless Faberge eggs, and a wedding gown gilded with gold so heavy that the empress could barely stand up while wearing it. Most o This is really a coffee table book that tells the story of the last Romanovs to rule Russia. Peter Christopher’s photographs serve as a lens into Russia’s magnificent past. This was a time of opulent splendor when monarchs ruled Europe by divine right. The pages are adorned with photos and illustrations of 1,000 room palaces, cathedrals, yachts, coronations, balls, priceless Faberge eggs, and a wedding gown gilded with gold so heavy that the empress could barely stand up while wearing it. Most of all the book contains touching photos of the beautiful family of Nicholas II and Alexandra. I give the photos and illustrations five stars and the verbiage three stars but the synergy between the two makes for a five-star experience. You will enjoy thumbing through the pages of this book. Author Peter Kurth tells the story of Nicholas, a simple family man that was thrust into the role of Tsar without proper experience or training for the job. He was a devoted husband and father that liked to shoot, shovel snow, and garden but really had no aptitude to be the Tsar and autocratic ruler of 1/8 of the world’s people. Nicholas knew that Alexandra of Hesse was his true love since the time he first laid eyes on her when she was only a girl of twelve years of age. Similarly, Alexandra was also thrust into the role of Tsarina without proper grooming for the role. She was a Hessian princess and a favorite granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She barely spoke any Russian at all and never lived there. She was very well educated, refrained from gossiping and a bit too prudish for the busybody, risqué Russian court of the day. The marriage of Nicholas and Alexandra was hastened by the demise of Nicholas’s father Tsar Alexander. It was during a turbulent, climactic time in the history of Russia. They would have to learn on the fly. Much of Kurth’s book was really a beautiful love story. Nicholas’s parents were at first against the marriage. Nicholas threatened to become a monk rather than marry another. Queen Victoria was also against the marriage and said she didn’t wish to subject any of her relatives to that cold climate. However, they were destined for each other. Alexandra gave Nicholas four beautiful daughters before giving birth to the heir, Alexi, a sickly hemophiliac. This disease was passed down to random males from Alexandra’s (and Queen Victoria’s) side of the family. The pages are adorned with family photos of the girls dressed in matching outfits. Before I finished the book I fell in love with the beautiful duchesses; it was almost as if I were looking at photos of my own daughters coming of age. According to Kurth, Alexandra was as devoted to Nicholas as much as he was to her. Kurth casts doubt upon rumors that Alexandra was having a physical romance with Rasputin. Kurth said that she signed letters with kisses and called herself mother to Rasputin and anyone else of whom she corresponded. She considered herself the mother of Russia. This was a woman that sat home and crocheted scarves and blankets for people. During the war, the empress and the duchesses received training and became nurses. They converted a palace to a hospital and the girls put in full days taking care of the wounded. This doesn't sound like a women caught up in the sexploits of the royal courts of Europe at the time. The Russo Japanese War of 1905 cost the empire dearly. World War I was disastrous for the world’s economies and it was the death knell for nearly all the monarchies of Europe. No country suffered worse than Russia. The Tsar abdicated and the Empire was torn apart at its limbs with a series of revolutions by various factions. The real death knell for Eastern Europe happened when Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized power. This to me was the end of an era of innocence. The Tsar and his family were murdered by a drunken mob of Bolsheviks in the cellar of a house in Siberia. Make no mistake, this was not an execution by firing squad but cold blooded murder of eleven people. The Tsar and his immediate family members and their doctor and a few servants were murdered in a blood orgy that took a good thirty minutes. In the end, Lenin’s hands had royal blood on them. This could have been avoided had England’s liberal government of Lloyd George given the Romanovs permission to live there in exile. The author said it was really King George V that “shut the door on their hope for exile in England [because] the presence of the Romanovs in in England…especially the empress would raise all sorts of difficulties for their British relations in wartime.” Kurth said that the problem with Queen Victoria’s granddaughter was that she was of German birth. Incidentally, this happened at the same time that the British royal family dropped their German surname of Saxe-Coburg for Windsor because the former name was German. Finally, the Great War and the abdication of the Tsar gave way to another type of autocratic rule that proved far more deadly and catastrophic for the Russian people and humanity in general than the 300 year reign of the Romanovs. This was another case of the devil you know is far better than the devil you don’t know. The murder of the Romanovs was just the start...the tip of the iceberg really for the iron curtain that would fall down upon Eastern Europe and result in the murder of about 35 million Russian citizens by their own government. I’m sure I will remain haunted for some time by the ghost-like photographs of this lovely family. The knowledge that these four beautiful girls and this twelve-year-old boy were murdered in cold blood by drunken communist thugs for a cause known as socialism is more personal now that their beautiful faces are ensconced in my memory. I try to console myself with the knowledge that there would be another 35 million faceless victims of socialism in Russia and probably 100 million more victims elsewhere for that wonderful cause. This way, I can console myself that their deaths really aren’t that special when you consider the magnitude. But still….look at those beautiful children and those matching dresses and consider how innocent they are. How could they? To hell with socialism.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Linda Lipko

    f you only have time to read one book regarding The Romanovs, Russian history, and the Russian revolution, this should be the one! Lush in photography, rich in detail, stunningly organized and exquisitely written, this is a gem which chronicles the opulence of the Romanovis and vividly contrasts this to the brutal massacre that ended their lives and the rule of the Tsars of Russia. The author and photographer show the before and after of the lush tranquility of summer and winter palaces and of yac f you only have time to read one book regarding The Romanovs, Russian history, and the Russian revolution, this should be the one! Lush in photography, rich in detail, stunningly organized and exquisitely written, this is a gem which chronicles the opulence of the Romanovis and vividly contrasts this to the brutal massacre that ended their lives and the rule of the Tsars of Russia. The author and photographer show the before and after of the lush tranquility of summer and winter palaces and of yachts and compare this with the captivity of the royal family at Ekaterinburg and their murder in the basement of the "house of special purpose". I've read a lot of Russian history, yet this book contained tidbits I didn't know. For example, the precursor and ominous signs which pointed to a doomed ending were rife from the beginning. The shabbily erected accommodations for the populous during the coronation celebration left hundreds dead and trampled as peasants fought for souvenir mugs and beer and wine to fill them. Knowing this event had occurred, still, the fantastic over-the-top coronation ball occurred, leaving a very bad perception from the start. Warned of Alexandra's dangerous obsession with the mad monk Rasputin, Nicholas passively ignored the possible repercussion. Involvement in WWI was disastrous as once again Nicholas' passivity and lack of leadership played a major role in the downfall of him and his family. Hiding his son Alexi's hemophilia from those who could have had sympathy again proved an inability to judge the masses. I highly recommend this coffee table style book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Though I’ve read different versions of the Romanov story a dozen times, the photos and images in this book were an incredible supplement to the narrative. The writing wasn’t exceptional, but I was enraptured by the pictures, art and captions. If only Robert K. Massie’s definitive books had been accompanied by such unique and dramatic images! I was thoroughly engrossed throughout the entire big, beautiful book. I read it over the course of several evenings and must confess that I was disappointed Though I’ve read different versions of the Romanov story a dozen times, the photos and images in this book were an incredible supplement to the narrative. The writing wasn’t exceptional, but I was enraptured by the pictures, art and captions. If only Robert K. Massie’s definitive books had been accompanied by such unique and dramatic images! I was thoroughly engrossed throughout the entire big, beautiful book. I read it over the course of several evenings and must confess that I was disappointed to finish it because I really felt that, more than any other Romanov books I’ve read, I was really present in imperial Russia. I cannot emphasize enough how well-structured the entire book was. The images of the family, of prominent locations, and various other notables were incredibly satisfying for a Romanov enthusiast like me.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Peter Kurth has researched and written a comprehensive and informative account of Russia’s last Emperor and Empress that is haunting and unforgettable. It seems like the lives of Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra, were doomed from the very start of their relationship. Beginning with their first meeting at a family wedding until their brutal murders at the hands of the Bolsheviks, Kurth’s fascinating account brings to life a vanished era. The relationships between members of the aristocracy, th Peter Kurth has researched and written a comprehensive and informative account of Russia’s last Emperor and Empress that is haunting and unforgettable. It seems like the lives of Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra, were doomed from the very start of their relationship. Beginning with their first meeting at a family wedding until their brutal murders at the hands of the Bolsheviks, Kurth’s fascinating account brings to life a vanished era. The relationships between members of the aristocracy, the religious undercurrents, and the evolving political and social unrest collided and resulted in tragic consequences for the Romanov dynasty. Included in this wonderful book are photographs taken from the surviving personal albums of the Romanov family and their entourage which had long been hidden in Russian archives. For anyone interested in Russian history, this book is a must read!

  6. 4 out of 5

    LobsterQuadrille

    This is probably the best non-fiction book on the Romanovs I have read thus far! The writing is engaging, yet very detailed and informative, and the photographs are great too. There are plenty of wonderful candid shots, along with the elegant posed portraits that we most often see. Kurth managed to give thorough historical information without his writing becoming dry or dull. The anecdotal details really give a sense of these legendary figures' personalities, adding a lot of emotional weight to This is probably the best non-fiction book on the Romanovs I have read thus far! The writing is engaging, yet very detailed and informative, and the photographs are great too. There are plenty of wonderful candid shots, along with the elegant posed portraits that we most often see. Kurth managed to give thorough historical information without his writing becoming dry or dull. The anecdotal details really give a sense of these legendary figures' personalities, adding a lot of emotional weight to the ending. The political issues that eventually led to Tsar Nicholas' downfall(and the murder of him and his family) are explained well and provide good insights into both sides of the story. Anyone interested in history, and especially the story of the Romanovs or the Russian Revolution, will find something worthwhile in this fascinating account.

  7. 5 out of 5

    ck

    Informal notes, rather than a formal review. More than a decade ago, business took me to Portland. There I fell in love with the city's variety of gardens, its vibrant artistic/craft community, and the thoughtfulness with which its residents had dotted the city streets with bubblers for four-legged residents. I managed to steal an hour to visit Powell's, and there I found this and several other books, gently used, in double-filled shelves. The concept of a place so packed with an esoteric array of Informal notes, rather than a formal review. More than a decade ago, business took me to Portland. There I fell in love with the city's variety of gardens, its vibrant artistic/craft community, and the thoughtfulness with which its residents had dotted the city streets with bubblers for four-legged residents. I managed to steal an hour to visit Powell's, and there I found this and several other books, gently used, in double-filled shelves. The concept of a place so packed with an esoteric array of books that one could buy and bring home visit anytime one liked still makes my heart beat a little quicker. I remember sitting on the floor in the midst of the stacks and leafing through Kurth's book and knowing that it needed to come home with me. Before that day, my only focused reading about the Romanovs was Massie's excellent Nicholas and Alexandra, and this was my first real chance to see the people he had brought to life so stirringly. Over the years, I have revisited this book and continue to appreciate the selection of images, and the large format that enables them to be studied in detail. This is a worthwhile companion, even though additional images continue to become available.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Fascinating. Had me spellbound, even though I knew what was going to happen, I couldn't put it down. I have read other books on this subject, and came across this one by accident at my library. Many pictures that I had never seen before, and I especially liked the then vs now comparison shots. Still can't believe that this was how a country got rid of its monarchy. Chilling. Enjoyed it so much that I bought it on eBay for my personal collection before I even finished it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Gorgeous. There are no other words to describe this book. The photographs - from the last Tsar and his family in the 1900s and from Russia today - are breathtaking. No one can see them without wanting to visit Russia! And lots of family pictures have only been published in this book. The text is fine - this was one of the first books I read about the Romanovs, so had a lot of great, easy to read information (apart from the conspiracy theories, Peter Kurth believed in Anna Anderson until he passed Gorgeous. There are no other words to describe this book. The photographs - from the last Tsar and his family in the 1900s and from Russia today - are breathtaking. No one can see them without wanting to visit Russia! And lots of family pictures have only been published in this book. The text is fine - this was one of the first books I read about the Romanovs, so had a lot of great, easy to read information (apart from the conspiracy theories, Peter Kurth believed in Anna Anderson until he passed away - which was after the "dubious" DNA testing and before all the bodies of the children were recovered), but nothing in depth. Highly recommended!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gray

    Amazing pictures I haven’t seen anywhere else and new details about the family... this book is a treasure

  11. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    A fascinating pictorial depiction of the last of the Romanovs. I had just recently read "Fall of Giants," which covers WWI & precipitates the rise of communism & inevitable demise of a ruling family that was so terribly out of touch with their subjects. So this book was a good follow-up. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, archives have been available with diaries & pictures of Nicholas II & Alexandra. I got a different picture of Alexandra than what I had in mind by seeing stories of their lov A fascinating pictorial depiction of the last of the Romanovs. I had just recently read "Fall of Giants," which covers WWI & precipitates the rise of communism & inevitable demise of a ruling family that was so terribly out of touch with their subjects. So this book was a good follow-up. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, archives have been available with diaries & pictures of Nicholas II & Alexandra. I got a different picture of Alexandra than what I had in mind by seeing stories of their love for each other. Alexandra impressed me as a strange person, but they did have a close & loving family. There are beautiful current pictures of locations together with shots from the family collection. Regardless of the fact that they lived such a privileged life amidst the cruel poverty of the Russians, it is sad how the family was treated & eventually murdered. They came from centuries of being told the people revered their Tsars. So even though they possibly could have escaped, they didn't really understand the hatred towards them & what they represented until it was too late.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michele Barber

    The marvelous thing about this book is all the photographic documentation that's included. One hobby of Tsar Nicholas and his family was photography, so there is a great deal of photographic evidence of their daily life, a great deal included here. This book is a wonderful introduction to this tragic chapter in Russian history.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

    Lots of nice pictures. Nothing new information-wise. In fact, since this book was published the missing bodies of Alexei and Anastasia have been found, forensically analyzed, and reburied, and the family has been canonized so...a bit outdated all around.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

    I actually purchased a used hard copy version of this book and it's what I would call a coffee table book. Pictures are gorgeous and book provides insight into court life, royal residences and the ultimate demise of the Russian aristocracy. I would recommend the book for the pictures alone!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

    Beautifully illustrated book with a variety of topics (not just concentrating on Rasputin and the deaths of the Romanov family). Photographs punctuate the text well, and no expense was spared for full-page (in some cases even tr-fold) representations of the palaces and other pertinent material. The text is concise but relays enough information for interest--not just to accompany the pictures.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lana

    A beautifully put together book of the reign and last day’s of Tsar Nicholas II. I have read a great deal on the the Russian monarchy and this book would be a great introduction for someone wanting to learn more about the last tsar and tsarina, their family, and the Russian Revolution. The pictures are stunning and the writing is clear and concise.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    I got this book through my public library. I was quite surprised at pickup to discover that not only was (my version) a coffee table size book, but it was also a paperback one. This book was not compatible with my reading habits. The pictures were awesome though.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Thom Swennes

    I have always been fascinated with the lives and ultimate fate of the Romanov’s, the last reigning royal Russian family. Their story is a tragedy wrapped in gold and silk. They were the product of an ancient, outdated system that refused to die a peaceful death. The final straw was a family feud that covered the world, resulting in over 37 million dead and changing Europe forever. Were they the cause of all this misery or just another handful of collateral causalities? I would say that this book I have always been fascinated with the lives and ultimate fate of the Romanov’s, the last reigning royal Russian family. Their story is a tragedy wrapped in gold and silk. They were the product of an ancient, outdated system that refused to die a peaceful death. The final straw was a family feud that covered the world, resulting in over 37 million dead and changing Europe forever. Were they the cause of all this misery or just another handful of collateral causalities? I would say that this book falls short of answering such questions but it probably wasn’t designed to. What this book does do in show the reader the splendor and unrealistic luxury the last Tsar and his family lived in. One can only say that they like the peasant folk that ultimately overthrew them were products of their time; a time that moved at a snails pace while the rest of the world was rushing toward a brave new world. This book is richly and profusely illustrated (something most of the books I tend to read aren’t) and would satisfy both readers and non-readers as each picture, as the saying goes, is worth a thousand words. I read the Dutch translation of the original but I feel sure that nothing was lost in the translation. I recently came across this book in a flea market and decided to liberate it on a whim. It is an action I will never regret and I highly recommend it to both lovers of history and beautiful things.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    The ever romantic story of the Romanovs, the fall of Imperial Russia and the quest to prove those bones so badly contaminated are the actual remains of Russia's last ruling family. Peter Kurth, writes of course what all historians know of the Imperial Family. The photographs throughout the large tome, are some rare and many seen before. Showing the family's way of life, and how wrong the public and government were, how they characterise Nicholas and his dear wife Alexandra... so many inaccurate The ever romantic story of the Romanovs, the fall of Imperial Russia and the quest to prove those bones so badly contaminated are the actual remains of Russia's last ruling family. Peter Kurth, writes of course what all historians know of the Imperial Family. The photographs throughout the large tome, are some rare and many seen before. Showing the family's way of life, and how wrong the public and government were, how they characterise Nicholas and his dear wife Alexandra... so many inaccurate things were said about the family, and about the two star-crossed lovers who supposedly ended the 300-year ruling Dynasty. I recommend this book, for people who have a strong liking and fascination with the Romanovs, though most of the things, are what have been passed about through history, the rumors, the horrid claims of the Bolsheviks, and how they boasted of the family's demise in July of 1918. A recommended Romanov book for all fans of the Mystery of the fall of Imperial Russia, that ended so abruptly in a little cellar room in faraway Ekaterinburg...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

    Easy to follow biography of the last royal family of Russia. I was able to keep everyone straight (lots of relatives and aristocrats and revolutionaries). I have always been interested in revolutions, and Peter Kurth places a weighty share of the blame on the silly, decadent elites who refused any kind of reform. I would own this book just for its description of the events leading up to the revolution. The pictures in this make it worthy of a fine coffee table. This book actually helped me unders Easy to follow biography of the last royal family of Russia. I was able to keep everyone straight (lots of relatives and aristocrats and revolutionaries). I have always been interested in revolutions, and Peter Kurth places a weighty share of the blame on the silly, decadent elites who refused any kind of reform. I would own this book just for its description of the events leading up to the revolution. The pictures in this make it worthy of a fine coffee table. This book actually helped me understand more about Alexandra's attempts to be a good mother in a decaying society and an institution (Russian royalty) that was seriously flawed. As the oldest daughter of Queen Victoria, she was scandalized by the loose morals of Russian aristocrats and kept her daughters home most of the time knitting. And they had bad handwriting. Weird.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

    Beautiful photographs, excellent text, very well put together. The illustrations are well labeled, explained, and connected to the topic being discussed in the text - always a sticking point for me. They did a great job of putting a picture taken during the reign of the Romanovs next to a contemporary photo of the same thing.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Magoon

    This was a great book for an overview of the last ruling Romanov family and it's demise. The overwhelming array of photos (all nicely labeled) gave a real insight into what it looked like to live in that time frame. It took me about a day to read through the whole book...maybe 5-6 hours total reading time. All in all an enjoyable read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dave Sippel

    While the book gives interesting inside information regarding the last Russian royal family, you wont find a deep historical analysis. The photographs are the main draw of the book and they are great. It reads like a family album, tracing the lives of Nicholas and his wife from their early years to their executions.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    +The pictures were amazing +It was an incredible book...and such a sad story. +I loved the conspiracy theories. +I love learning about the Romanovs & Rasputin! -There were too many names that popped up...it was tough to keep up! +The pictures were amazing +It was an incredible book...and such a sad story. +I loved the conspiracy theories. +I love learning about the Romanovs & Rasputin! -There were too many names that popped up...it was tough to keep up!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    The value of this is mostly pictures, and there a lot of very large, very beautiful pictures. No need to visualize what the Romanovs' surroundings looked like--it's all there for you to see. My favorite was undoubtedly the white palace at Livadia.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    c1995. The words manage to wheedle you from merely loking at just the pictures. Damn! Lost the first set of comments I made - AGAIN!!!!!!!. FWFTB - vanished, Imperial, DNA, tragic, evocative. FCN: Nicholas II, Anastasia, Rasputin, Anna Anderson, Queen Victoria.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Loraine

    perfect. I will someday read The Robert K. Massey "Nicholas and Alexandra" as well as "The Romanovs" but not just yet. This wonderful coffee table book was a pleasure to read and I did not want to put it down. The pictures add so much to the experience.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Lawler

    This remains one of my favorite history books. By comparing "then and now" photographs, the reader learns about the life of the Imperial Romanov family, their environs, and what happened to these places after the fall of Imperial Russia.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    Extraordinary photographs of the family, the places they lived and key people in their lives and times. Brilliantly written, endlessly interesting. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the Romanovs and the Russian revolution.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Debra Franklin

    If you're interested in the Romanovs, don't miss this book, especially if you like Romanov photos. The book is full of high-quality images of the family. This edition is coffee-table book sized. Peter Kurth is a fantastic writer, so the text is a pleasure to read.

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