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The Escape of Alexei, Son of Tsar Nicholas II: What Happened the Night the Romanov Family Was Executed Hardcover – November, 1998


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Narrative Nonfiction
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

You might argue that there's no point to this English-language edition of a Russian book, because only the most feverish Russian monarchist could take seriously, as a political issue, the question of whether the last Tsar's heir survived the Bolshevik massacre at Ekaterinburg. But this is a bit like saying that it doesn't matter how Amelia Earhart died: a mystery is a mystery, each with its own special claims on our attention. We know that Cheka thugs buried two fewer bodies than they fired at, and forensic evidence shows that if those two got away, they were almost certainly Nicholas's two youngest children, Anastasia and Alexei. There have been many Alexei pretenders in Russia, but none with so well-documented a claim as the one presented (a little breathlessly) here, on behalf of the schoolteacher Vasily Filatov, who died in 1984. Computerized facial matching says that he must be Alexei, and there is an enormous amount of other circumstantial evidence. Intriguing ... as, in a rubber-necking sort of way, is the forensically detailed reconstruction of what happened on the murderous night of July 16 to 17, 1918. But note that the relevant genetic information about Filatov has not been disclosed. Many experts, using just the methods emphasized here, were convinced beyond doubt that Anna Anderson must have been Alexei's sister Anastasia ... until DNA samples showed up. So caveat lector. What really drives this book is the series of grainy, haunting images of Filatov: was he just a peasant turned teacher, or did those deep, inscrutable eyes, which do look so very, very like the eyes of the young tsarevitch, hide for six decades a terrible story about crawling away from a pile of corpses? --Richard Farr

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N Abrams; 1st edition (November 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810932776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810932777
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7.2 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,748,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

2.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By N. Donohoe on May 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be most intriguing, but it left the door wide open for speculation. Obviously, DNA testing would solve the riddle. Despite the fact that the authors are scrupulous in presenting documents which have little relevance to deciding the question (such as report cards from the supposed tsarevich) and repetitive accounts of Filatov's demeanor, personality, habits and traditions, they do not address the DNA question in a similar manner. Nor do they make it clear as to the efforts to have this testing completed or the impediments to this process. There are some inconsistencies in sections of the book which relate the personal stories of different familiy members - some of this may be a result of ideas or impressions that are "lost in the translation." The most impacting evidence I found in the book were the photos of Filatov's children and their comparison with those of the Royal Romanov family. Amazing likenesses, but DNA it is not. Filatov's son purposefully sports a beard, mustache and hairstyle in imitation of Nicholas 11. Still, one can see a haunting likeness to the murdered tzar if one looks close enough. The organization of the book itself is hampered by the determination to present everything - history, photos, documents - without having to hop across the decades to make comparisons. Some of the historical material in the beginning is tedious and repetitive. The impression most people have of the Romanov execution is one of the precise following of orders, taking the family by surprise and completing the execution without a hitch.Read more ›
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Yet another Romanov book that assumes its readers are brainless. The author makes numerous mistakes about basic historical facts..one example being his claim that Grand Duchess Elizabeth ("Ella") is buried in China, when she is actually buried in Jerusalem. In another chapter he claims that Anna Andersen and Anastasia were the same person, when it had already been proven (with DNA testing) that they were NOT the same. Based on interviews with the Filatov family, the authors would have us believe that Alexei escaped, but little evidence is given to prove this.I don't know how this book could have been published before DNA testing has been done. Save your money...don't buy this one.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
...let us know when the DNA testing is complete on Vasily Filatov and the other parties involved. This make a buck on a book is infuriating! Lysenkos book is no more than another piece of Anna Anderson trickery. Photographs with a line here and a line there; handwriting analysis with a loop here and loop there. Filatov may be the Tsar's son or another Anna! I'll give Anna her due...she's in the history books as one of the greatest tricksters.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 2, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The Escape of Alexei combines accounts from the executioners of the Tsar's family with the reminiscences of a devout, long suffering Orthodox man's family. Surely Vasily Filatov was a saintly hemophiliac, but comparing the data in this book to quotations from the Tsar's own diary and the memories of those who knew the child, one comes away unconvinced that this poor fellow was indeed the lost Tsarevich. We are asked to believe that in spite of the fact that Nicholas' last diary entry reports that the boy could just put his foot down and that on that fateful night he had to be carried down the stairs, Alexei rolled off the cart, still alive, and hobbled up to three and one half miles in two and a half hours, to a train station. Miracles do happen, but this writer is more inclined to believe that Mr. Filatov may have overidentified with the Tsarevich because of his own hemophilia, and that his family dared to dream in the days of glasnost, when Anastasias and Alexeis were suddenly appearing after the grave was discovered. We want to believe that at least one of the children survived, because this was the most brutal regicide in history. But little Alexei was the one least likely to. Better to wait and see if anything develops in terms of a second gravesite in the near future. But this is a far more readable book than 'The Hunt for the Czar'. I'd rather believe this man was Alexei than Michal Goleniewski. But the equation is just not right, even if his behavior is reminiscent of that of Dmitri Shostakovich - another sensitive soul that the Soviet regime stifled. It is easy to feel for Vasily Filatov - but easy to believe that someone is behind all this, for reasons unknown.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Randy Osburn on February 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
DNA testing remains key. To date, Lysenko's book presents still yet another infamous Anna Anderson story in the making. Photographic comparisons with a line here and a line there; hand writing analyses with a loop here and a loop there. Vasily Filatov could be the Tsarevich...just as Anna Anderson was the Duchess Anastasia. Anderson was a great trickster. AND Filatov may be the same!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jodi R. Hilvers on March 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book poses many questions, but answers none. Too suggest that this man was indeed Alexei and not back it up with a DNA test is pointless. I was totally captivated by the book until I reached the end, then I was disappointed. Spend your time reading something else. This book adds nothing to the countless theories about what happened to the youngest Romanovs.
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