The Romanovs: 1613-1918 – Simon Sebag Montefiore

Hello bookfriends!

I’ve finished my current foreverread! It took me, in total 3 years, but the last try with active reading took me 1 year to finish. Quite a bit of time with other words! I really liked it though! The synopsis is borrowed from Goodreads:

The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world’s surface for three centuries. How did one family turn a war-ruined principality into the world’s greatest empire? And how did they lose it all?

This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. Simon Sebag Montefiore’s gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance, with a global cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries and poets, from Ivan the Terrible to Tolstoy and Pushkin, to Bismarck, Lincoln, Queen Victoria and Lenin.

The Romanovs is by no means a bad read! I know it may seem like it because it took me so long to finish, but it’s really more like a long history class with a very good teacher. Montefiore writes with witty comments and deep historical insight and this provides the reader with a rich insight into the life of the Romanov family. I think it was the many many maaaaaany names, footnotes and tiny lettering that made this a more challenging read for me. The footnotes are very handy because it brings you the bigger picture or a more in-depth understanding of the historical times.

This book is filled with many names I’ve heard before. People from Catherine the Great to Lenin and Stalin. It was very interesting to learn more about the history of the Romanovs and how they ruled their empire! I have to say I struggled a bit with keeping up in the beginning. There was a lot of unfamiliar terms and cultural practices that I had to look up in order to understand them, but it was still interesting and I learned quite a bit. Later on in the book I was also able to recognize a couple of names from the previous history and the like which was fun! I was mainly curious about Catherine the Great and the last tsar and his family. Catherine was a very different character than what I had pictured. I had seen the HBO series Catherine the Great before I finished her part of the book and the series did prepare me somewhat for her character but its always different when you read the book. She was in many ways a great monark. She, as many of her family members, committed some fouls things but she did rise Russia to a new great area in its history. It was quite fascinating to read about how the monarks could just undo what their predecessor had built up. It seemed like their own personal picture and legacy was more important than Russia’s advance into the future. In many ways these monarks were more selfish than anything else!

When reading about the last tsar, Nicholas 2, I was at times more frustrated than anything else. He did do a lot of good things but he made such terrible descisions when it really mattered for Russia. I’m not the greatest mind in politics but even I could understand why his choices were completley wrong. Especially when it came to his latest ministers and how he treated the people. I did not know too much about their final days either. I’ve heard some historical fiction novels on the topic but I quite enjoyed, if you can put it like that, to learn about the true events and how it really happened. I knew they were shot in the cellar but for some reason many history books, at least from school, stops there. I also liked that Montefiore takes the book a bit beyond the point of the last tsar and his family’s deaths. By doing this he shows the reader how their deaths affected what happened later and even as late as 2011!

It took me a while to figure out how I should read this book the way it suited me. It was my boyfriend who suggested that I should read 20 pages a day and leave it at that. The chapters are very long in this book so therefore reading it chapter by chapter didn’t work out that well for me. In the beginning I tried to just sit down and read, which worked somewhat, but it wasn’t the ultimate way of reading it. By reading 20 pages a day it was easier for me to keep up the continuity that’s rather recommended for this book. You’ll forget all the names and plenty of the context if you don’t. At least I did, hence why I started over at least twice on this book.

The Romanovs is a very detailed and in-depth book about the Romanov family and how they lived. It’s full of historical details of all kinds and if you’re looking to learn more about the Romanov dynasty and Russia’s history this is definitley a book you need to pick up! Don’t be scared by the size! I promise you that the way Montefiore has written the book makes it well worth it’s size!

Published: 2016

Genre: Non fiction

Theme: The Romanov family, Russia

– The Book Reader

21094391. sy475

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