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The Rasputin File Paperback – December 4, 2001

4.0 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ever since the brutal murder of Grigory Rasputin on the eve of the Russian Revolution, morbid fascination has assured the semiliterate peasant a legacy in infamy. Now, armed with a newly discovered trove of testimonies from Rasputin's inner circle of devotees, Radzinsky (The Last Tsar) promises to "solve" the mystery of Rasputin's death. A veteran writer of Russian history, Radzinsky writes as if a historian must also be a sleuth and a psychiatrist. It's no wonder, then, that his book, which has the makings of a genuine expos?, goes more than a little off the rails. His latest effort is a muddle of conjecture that reads like a made-for-television docudrama. It is true that the evidentiary file--compiled by a revolutionary commission in 1917 and bought at auction in 1995 by the famous cellist Mistoslav Rostropovich--contains new and often sensational material. However, a transcription of the titillating details of Rasputin's sexual escapades coupled with "who's who" captions for previously printed photographs cannot be equated with, in the author's words, "a unique investigation." More inadequate is Radzinsky's claim to have solved a great mystery when he declares that Rasputin was felled (but not killed) by a bullet from Assassin B (the Grand Duke) and not from Assassin A (a collaborator), as has so long been thought. Even if it is true, one wonders how relevant such a theory is in light of the more miraculous fact that Rasputin died from drowning--after his poisoned, bludgeoned and bullet-ridden body was dumped in the Neva River. Lovers of history and pulp fiction alike should rejoice that this account fails to crack the enigma of Rasputin. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

The Provisional Government in Russia (1917) formed the Extraordinary Commission of Inquiry to investigate the excesses of the tsarist regime, including those of the "Mad Monk" Grigory Rasputin (1869-1916) and his influence on the imperial family. The commission's file on him soon vanished, finally reappearing a few years ago at auction, where it was bought for Radzinsky, author of The Last Tsar and Stalin. Based on this newfound evidence, supplemented by published memoirs and by the surveillance file the police kept on Rasputin during the last five years of his life, the author has reconstructed his daily visits and actions during the years 1903-16 in meticulous detail, including the events surrounding his death. He portrays Rasputin as part of a pre-Christian peasant tradition of mysticism and folk wisdom. Statements made to the commission substantiate many of the drunken excesses usually attributed to Rasputin but undermine other charges of sexual exploits. The level of detail in this work makes it appropriate for specialists in the period and for academic libraries.DMarcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 526 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Books; Reprint edition (December 4, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385489102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385489102
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.2 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #451,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Edvard Radzinsky is like the character in the HG Wells story who has successfully built and operated a time machine. His chosen destination is the Court of Tsar Nicholas II and he inhabits that world like a native as anyone familiar with "The Last Tsar" knows. Radzinsky's readers become more like his traveling companion as he takes us through the former Soviet archives piecing his story together from first hand documents that no other author on this period has had access to. It is this ability to fuse the past with the present, so brilliantly done in the first book, that makes "The Rasputin File" equally intense and immediate. One example from many:
"I received the last batch of unpublished documents about Rasputin in the Siberian archives. Among them was an inventory of property belonging to Rasputin immediately after his murder...I now knew every chair in his house and every glass on his table...Now I had seen what he saw. And I had heard his way of speaking, too, which had been left behind in his writings."
I think the passage just quoted shows how Radzinsky's interest functions on a multiplicity of levels - a detective's love of uncovering the unknown; a scientist's fascination with minute detail; a mystic's compulsion to enter the very spirit of his subject, and even a portrait painter's need to capture as accurate a likeness as possible. Add to this the fact that the author is a Russian engaged in an act of almost public expiation for a National Crime and you have a work that packs an emotional charge far beyond the fantastic events of the story itself.
The National Crime is, of course, the execution of the Romanovs.
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Format: Hardcover
Once again, the author of "The Last Tsar" has given us an insight into the final years of the Romanov dynasty. I always felt, when reading other books about this era, that the character of Rasputin was somewhat one-sided, and reading in other works that there was a missing file piqued my interest. Now we have the File brought into the open after decades, and Rasputin stands revealed as a much more understandable person. His influence on the tsar and tsarina was strong, with unfortunate consequences for their family and country. The information set out in this book is fascinating, particularly the quotes from the interrogation of witnesses we have often read about, but never before had the chance to hear "speak". My one quibble is that, either the author or the translator has a quirky writing style, and the unusual grammar and sentence structure caught my attention initially, and kept interfering with my reading. Once I became accustomed to it, however, it faded into the background and didn't prevent me from thoroughly enjoying this book. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in early 20th century Russian history.
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Format: Hardcover
Having read Radzinsky's THE LAST TSAR and found it difficult to put down, I was eager to dive into his new book on Rasputin. In the earlier book, Radzinsky combined historical insights with the captivating writing style that has made him a popular playwright in Russia. The new book also promised new revelations based on his discovery--through the help of the author's friend, the conductor/cellist Mistislav Rostropovich--of the voluminous, long-lost Kerensky government police files on Rasputin, based on interviews with the people (outside of the tsar's immediate family) who knew him most intimately.
All of this said, I found the new book rather disappointing. It lacks the riveting style that characterized THE LAST TSAR. (It is difficult to tell whether the fault lies with the author or the translator.) And the book gets bogged down in details, seeming to dwell endlessly on Rasputin's misdeeds and his intrigues to influence the shape of the Russian imperial government. Of the entire 500 pages of the book, the middle three-fifths seem to be a morass of minute facts and figures. Like one of the most monstrously long Russian novels, this book also seems to get lost in minor characters.
This is not to say, however, that this is a book without merit. It offers new insights into Rasputin himself, his incredible power over the imperial court, and his role in bringing down the government of Nicholas II. Radzinsky also does a convincing job of reconciling the seemingly contradictory facets of Rasputin's personality, alternating between the saint and the sinner, the holy man and the orgiast.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book for those familiar with Russian history and particularly the time of the Tsars. Very informative and well written. I do believe, however, that this would be a confusing book for someone interested in Russian history to begin with. One must have a good understanding of the mind-set of the Russian population at the time of the last Romanoff's to fully take in the events that unfolded. The whys, whens and wheres are confusing to a first time reader but a wonderful reading adventure to those who have some background of the Russian people, the tsars and the economic times of that era. I highly recommend The Last Tsar before reading this. I like the author's style and enthusiasm for the subject. Bravo!
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