Rasputin: Book summary and reviews of Rasputin by Douglas Smith

Rasputin

Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs

by Douglas Smith

Rasputin by Douglas Smith X
Rasputin by Douglas Smith
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Book Summary

On the centenary of the death of Rasputin comes a definitive biography that will dramatically change our understanding of this fascinating figure.

A hundred years after his murder, Rasputin continues to excite the popular imagination as the personification of evil. Numerous biographies, novels, and films recount his mysterious rise to power as Nicholas and Alexandra's confidant and the guardian of the sickly heir to the Russian throne. His debauchery and sinister political influence are the stuff of legend, and the downfall of the Romanov dynasty was laid at his feet.

But as the prizewinning historian Douglas Smith shows, the true story of Rasputin's life and death has remained shrouded in myth. A major new work that combines probing scholarship and powerful storytelling, Rasputin separates fact from fiction to reveal the real life of one of history's most alluring figures. Drawing on a wealth of forgotten documents from archives in seven countries, Smith presents Rasputin in all his complexity - man of God, voice of peace, loyal subject, adulterer, drunkard. Rasputin is not just a definitive biography of an extraordinary and legendary man but a fascinating portrait of the twilight of imperial Russia as it lurched toward catastrophe.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Smith's depravity-laden history of turn-of-the-20th-century Russia hinges on his insightful readings of myth and motive, and their tragic consequences." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. "[An] amazingly detailed, deeply researched biography. [Douglas Smith] carefully lifts the myths away from the real story, which nevertheless is presented here as a greatly compelling picture of a figure who at the zenith of his influence was known all over Russia." - Booklist

"Starred Review. This account of the intertwined fates of Rasputin, the Romanovs, and Russia will be a true challenge for nonacademics. Yet, Smith's study will surely be considered the seminal scholarly work on Rasputin, an essential read for students of Imperial Russia's downfall." - Library Journal

"A tour de force of research from the Russian archives, the book is a deeply detailed, occasionally plodding biography of one of history's most malleable characters." - Kirkus

"This brilliantly written, meticulously researched account of the life of Rasputin is the best, most complete and accurate I have ever read ... Readers will begin by saying that this is an impossible story to believe. They will read on because, in Douglas Smith's mesmerizing telling, it must be believed. And because it did happen." - Robert K. Massie, author of Catherine the Great

"Rasputin reveals the true character of the man without minimizing his malign hold on the feckless Romanovs." - Ken Kalfus, author of The Commissariat of Enlightenment

"Douglas Smith unravels Rasputin's complex narrative in unprecedented detail, showing how he was a kind of chimera onto which could be hung all the ills of a disintegrating Russia. In the process, Smith vividly exposes the astonishing blindness of the ruling class that made its tragic end inevitable. A brilliant achievement." - Rosemary Sullivan, author of Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva

"In his magisterial, exhaustively researched work on Rasputin, Douglas Smith paints a rich, detailed portrait of one of history's most fascinating individuals while also chronicling the dramatic last days of the tsar. It's a wondrous read." - Neal Bascomb, author of The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler's Atomic Bomb

"Without denying the salacious and corrupt ways of the 'holy man,' the book brilliantly and thoughtfully defends Rasputin against the worst of the myths that swirled around him. A tour de force." - Robert Service, author of The End of the Cold War: 1985–1991 and Lenin: A Biography

This information about Rasputin shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Douglas Smith

Douglas Smith is an award-winning historian and translator and the author of Former People and other books on Russia. Before becoming a historian, he worked for the U.S. State Department in the Soviet Union and as a Russian affairs analyst for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich. He lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.

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