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Tsar: The Lost World of Nicholas and Alexandra Paperback – November 1, 1998

4.5 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It's easy now to indulge in nostalgia about the era of the Romanovs, and the sheer lushness of this gorgeous book is enough to encourage the indulgence. Even the text, highly readable and informative, is a little rose-tinted in places, but perhaps the authors can hardly be blamed when the gentlemanly cruelties of the old regime look so innocent next to the quintessentially totalitarian 20th-century hell that replaced them. (Nowhere was the true nature of the new "people's" dispensation revealed more vividly than in the lurid, incompetent savagery with which Nicholas II and his family were dispatched, a story reconstructed in considerable detail here.) In any case, despite a touch of sentimentality, this is a fine short history of how the Romanov dynasty ended, artfully disguised as a coffee-table book. If you merely flip through the pictures (Ekaterinburg, Tsarkoe Selo, the Cathedral of Peter and Paul at St. Petersburg, shining like a gold dagger in the snow), you will ache to travel to Russia. If you read the text, you will learn a surprising amount about the world of an almost comically ineffectual man with whom the Fates amused themselves by placing him at a key turning point in modern history. Heartless autocrat that he was, you may even end up feeling sorry for him: the cure was so much worse than the disease. --Richard Farr

About the Author

Peter Kurth has written for VANITY FAIR, THE NEW YORKER etc. ISADORA has taken him 10 years to write. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (November 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316557889
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316557887
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.8 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #733,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If you are a Nicholas and Alexandra fan and can only have one book in your collection, Tsar: The Lost World of Nicholas and Alexandra by Peter Kurth is that book. There is not a book around that is so stunningly beautiful, or that brings the world of Nicholas and Alexandra to life as this one does.

Unlike many coffee-table books, Tsar gives a comprehensive history of the story of Nicholas and Alexandra from their childhoods to their captivity and death. It also details the discovery of their remains, although it was published just prior to their state burial in 1998. The one negative about the text is that Kurth displays a thinly veiled endorsement of Anna Anderson actually being Anastasia. I don't care how similar they may have looked-show me the DNA.

But the true story is told through the unbelievable pictures and paintings of both the past and present. It is in these that Tsar: The Lost World truly excels. These photographs not only show the beauty of their lives, but also are haunting in that they reveal the true tragedy of the last tsar and his family. Many before and after pictures are used to show the amazing contrast. They include The Winter Palace today, and when it was used as a World War I hospital. Or the tranquil photo of the Palace Square during a snowfall today vs. the Bloody Sunday Massacre scene. Especially tragic are the pictures of the imperial children along with modern day photos of their toys and playthings. They truly were innocent victims in this saga. The pictures of the royal residences are larger than life (many in color) and are alone worth the price of this book. They include The Alexander Palace, The Catherine Palace, The Winter Palace, Peterhof, Livadia and Gatchina.
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Format: Paperback
I've read about the last Russian tsar, Nicholas II, and his family for years, but I never felt like I really understood their lives and their lifestyle until I bought and read this book. The text is an interesting historical summation, but it doesn't reveal anything your average student of Russian history wouldn't already know. What is so special about this book is the pictures. Beautiful full-color photos of the magnificient palaces and locations frequented by the Russian royal family are displayed next to a comprehensive collection of historical photos from the era. In addition to the classic royal portraits you have probably seen, there are many candid photos of the family going about their daily life. Frequently, a historical picture is shown next to a gorgeous contemporary photograph of the same locale. For example, a black and white photograph of two of the Grand Duchess rowing past the "children's island" at Tsarkoe Selo is shown with a brilliantly colored picture of the same spot as it looks today. Thanks to these beautiful photographs, I have a whole new appreciation of the incredible luxury of the royal surroundings, and what a grand contrast it must have been to the lifestyle of the average Russian peasants.
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Format: Paperback
This large coffee table style book is essentially a visual record of the last Russian Tsar and his family. It features page after page of large photos - the famous black and white family album shots, many not-so-famous pictures of the family at home and their friend and relatives. These are interspersed with colour photographs of relevant locations (e.g. Alexander Palace, site of the former Impatiev House), which are absolutely stunning purely from a visual point of view. Photos of personal objects that belonged to the family - jewelery, letters and toys are also included.
Along with the photos, there is an accompanying text that tells the basic story. It covers the Romanov saga right from Nicholas and Alexandra's childhoods, to their marriage, children, Rasputin, the revolution and the modern day sequel to their story. It is not an academic work, and the information is broad and somewhat lacking in detail. For information on the last Tsar, there are numerous biographies which would serve the inquiring reader better.
But as I said, this is a coffee table book for the lay person.
It is like the "creme caramel" of the Romanov library. Rich, indulgent, a must have, but definately not the main course.
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Format: Hardcover
I've watched the documentaries and I've read bits and pieces here and there, but I was more interested in the people behind the huge murder mystery. This book is an awesome combination of personal photographs, royal portraits, letters, diary entries, and facts. I plunged into this book and had most of it read by the next day after I had gotten the book. I found it increasingily hard to finish though; whether it was the subject was getting just too difficult to bear or the story was dragging on at that point, I'm not sure. The personalities of the family really came out as they told the story of their lives in their own words. I picked this book by the sheer shock of the beautiful photos, but I was drawn in by the story. This is a great book and jewel among other Romanov books.
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Format: Paperback
Even if this book would have been compiled with absolutely no text, I still would've bought it for the photos alone. The only way to describe it is an extremely rich and lush indulgance. One of life's few not-so-guilty pleasures.
The comparison photos add a new touch to an 'old' story; it helps a person to put things into proper perspective. The pictures alone tell their own tale; the text gives us no new information and is often somewhat melodramatic. In short, it's really not needed- especially for someone who's well-versed in the tragic story of Tsar Nicholas II and his family.
But oh! Those photos!
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