Most helpful positive review
167 of 169 people found the following review helpful
Appropriate afterword for "Nicholas and Alexandra"
on January 29, 2003
I'm guessing that most people buying "The Romanovs: The Final Chapter" have already read Massie's "Nicholas and Alexandra" (first published in 1967) but if you haven't, I highly recommend it as "The Romanov's" is basically a final update to the family's tragic tale. Also, Massie's first book on Russia's last Tsar will make this book more personal to the reader as one gets a sentimental appreciation of who Nicholas and his family were from "Nicholas and Alexandra."
This book is far different than Massie's other historical epics as he takes on the role of an investigative journalist rather than a historian. Massie is on the front-lines, from DNA labs to court rooms, searching for a final answer as to whose skeletons were unearthed by an Ekaterinburg resident in the late 70's.
Massie leaves the reader with a plethora of factual information that all but ends one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century. Using DNA tests, Massie proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Russia's royal family and servants are the ones that were buried beneath the road outside Ekaterinburg. He also proves beyond a reasonable doubt, that Anna Anderson, who was the 20th century's greatest con artist, was not Anastasia, Tsarevna of Russia, but a mere Polish peasant.
With all the crime solving, the book at times gets bogged down into quotes, lengthy (but pertinent) explanations of scientific facts and petty arguments between scientists and lawyers, which limits Massie's masterful writing-style to a minimum. After reading all his books, the only sections that come close to capturing his colorful and accomplished style of prose are the first and last chapters.
That said, I'm very glad Massie was the one to tell the Tsar's final story and I highly recommend it to any reader of "Nicholas and Alexandra."
Here's a few items of note:
- A previous reviewer said that Massie does not explain what happened to the last two bodies, presumably of Alexei and either Anastasia or Marie, but in fact, Massie does with quotes of Yurovsky's writings on page 31 and again on page 68. By burning the two bodies and spreading the ashes and embers around, their remains were not preserved like the remaining nine bodies by being entombed in clay, so the final two missing family members in all likelihood will never be found. Another reviewer wished they had a family tree to keep the Romanovs straight. In my edition of "Nicholas and Alexandra", there is a family tree that shows all of Nicholas II's brothers and sister and one could make a photo copy from that book and add in all the nephews, nieces, cousins, etc.
- Also, since this book was published in 1995, a few things have happened in Russia regarding the Romanovs. On July 17, 1998, Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra, three of their children and four family servants were buried in the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg. The Russian Orthodox Church still questions the legitimacy of the bones as being the Tsar but the church did partake in the funeral march and burial. In a poll taken at the time, only 47 percent of Russians believed they remains were of Nicholas II and his family. And in 2001, the Dowager Empress Marie Fedorovna, was exhumed in Denmark and reburied alongside her husband, Tsar Alexander III, in the same cathedral.