The Romanovs

 Photo by  Josh Feggans

Photo by Josh Feggans

Author: Simon Sebag Montefiore

Russian history is something I’ve always wanted to learn more about, but never gotten around to it. Especially the Russian Royal family, the Romanovs. And I’m not just talking about the tragic murders of Nicholas II and his family. There are so many curious figures to wonder about. From the beginnings of the Romanov denisty as we know it, starting with the apprehensive boy Tsar Mikhail Romanov, to the exploits of his grand-son Peter the Great, and of course the Golden Age of Russia associated with Catherine the Great.

This book is, simply put, ridiculously comprehensive, and as a result sometimes a little difficult to follow as there are so many players to remember, but it’s worth persevering with. Some of the stories and Royal scandals revealed are almost unbelievable, including the sheer amount of sex (not to mention the all-consuming passionate affairs) that everyone seemed to be having all day, every day, several times a day. It’s a wonder those Russians got anything done at all!

The Romanovs not only takes you deep inside the struggle you would have faced to keep hold of your reign as Tsar, from surviving assassination attempts to being overthrown by your own wife, but also lays bare the machinery of fear and greed used to keep the autocracy afloat. From the doling out of Roubles left, right and centre to increasing the number of ‘souls’ (that’s right – people, known as serfs, whom by which your actual wealth was counted) in your possession. The whole economy ran on the slave trade, and if you were an average Russian citizen, then chances are you would be bought, sold or married off at the drop of a hat. You had no say in the matter at all. In fact, this system of slave ownership didn’t start to change until … well why don’t you read the book and find out for yourself.

Read this is you like: History, Russia, Royal scandals, or reading about the crazy things people do when they have unlimited money and/ or power.

Rated: 3 scoops out of a possible 5 flavours.