33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
A "sequel" that addresses three issues of the Romanovs
, February 22, 2005
This review is from: The Romanovs: The Final Chapter (Hardcover)
Robert K. Massie does it again by writing a superb "sequel" to his 1967 historical account "Nicholas and Alexandra". The book "The Romanovs: The Final Chapter" was written in response to the affirmation of the discoveries of the bones of the Romanov family. The book is divided into two parts. The first part addresses the discovery and verification of the bones. The discovery of the bones had after all, led to several debates. One debate naturally dealt with the authenticity of the bones. Along those lines there had arisen a rivalry between the various scientists that tested the authenticity of the bones. Furthermore there was a question as to whether the Russian Orthodox Church would recognize the remains of the Romanov family and thus give them a fitting burial. It was eventually through various tests, that the remains of nine people were proven to be in fact the royal family. However the final problem was that the remains of Alexei the heir to the throne and that of one of his youngest sisters were still missing. But scientists were also unsure which sister it was that was still missing. Most scientists believed that it was the youngest daughter Anastasia. There were nonetheless a substantial amount of scientists who concurred that it was Maria and not Anastasia who was missing. Finally there were questions as to the whereabouts of the remains of the two children regardless of their identity. It is from here that the second part of the book begins: The Pretenders.
The second half of the book mainly addresses the claims of Anna Anderson, the alleged surviving Grand Duchess who was better known as Anastasia. R.K. Massie goes through the pains of briefly recounting the life of Anna Anderson from her attempted suicide to the time of her death over fifty years later. Although there were many people who would claim to be a surviving member of the royal family, none would ever achieve the level of notoriety of Anna Anderson, who ultimately was proven to being a fraud through DNA testing after her death. It was through the claims of Anna Anderson that Hollywood took liberties in making full use of the legend of Anastasia and thus produced at least two well-known films on the subject. The films were the 1956 movie starring Ingrid Bergman (in which she won a Oscar for the title role) and the 1997 cartoon feature with the same title. While the popularity of the two films has served to make the legend of Anastasia mainstream, they have also further distorted the aftermath of the Romanov dynasty. It is thus fair to say that Massie's latest book serves to set the record straight and remove any belief in Anna Anderson's claims of royal lineage.
Finally R.K. Massie briefly addresses the various squabbles among the descendants of the Romanov family as to the issue of who is presently the legitimate head of the family. It is this last section of the book that many reviewers (myself included) find to be tiresome and superfluous. It is unfortunate that this final section of the book can really ruin its overall appraisal. Nonetheless I highly recommend the book not only for its subject matter but also for Robert K. Massie's fluid and engaging writing style. Robert K. Massie is after all not a historian, but a journalist and therefore he is capable of writing to the common reader. "The Romanovs: The Final Chapter" is in short a book worthy of its predecessor "Nicholas and Alexandra" and therefore it is a must-read.
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