Book Reviews

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

Family RomanovNicholas II, last Tsar of Russia, his family, their servants and their physician were imprisoned at the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg (or, Yekaterinburg) during the upheaval of the Russian Revolution and brutally murdered in a cellar in the wee hours of the morning on July 17, 1918.

For three hundred years, the Romanov Dynasty reigned over Russia, yet Nicholas never wanted to be Tsar. He was shy and less commanding than his father, Alexander III. Because of his great love for Russia, he took his place as Tsar after his father’s death, with Alexandra at his side.

The ill-fated romance of Nicholas and Alexandra is one rarely found in history books between Emperors and Empresses, Kings and Queens, and/or the ruling elite. The two were truly in love, rather than marrying simply for political reasons or convenience. Grand Duchess after Grand Duchess, Nicholas and Alix tried to produce an heir. First Olga, then Maria, Tatiana, and Anastasia; finally, in 1904, Alexei Nicholaeovich was born, solidifying the Romanov line would continue…but all was not well. Alexei was afflicted with hemophilia. Enter Rasputin…healing monk? Or charlatan?

The story continues with photographs from the childrens’ Kodak Brownie cameras, professional portraits, personal letters, and other documents telling the tale of the Romanovs’ imminent demise and the political unrest leading up to it. Intermittent sections from the perspective of workers, peasants, and others add context and depth to the content.

My Reaction: The Romanovs have long been a fascination of mine; having studied various aspects of Russian History at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh under the tutelage of Karl Loewenstein, the professor that ignited my passion for Russia and it’s beautiful, yet bloody history. I was overjoyed to see that Candace Fleming, a highly capable non-fiction author for children and teens, made the tragic story of this family accessible to students. Fleming artfully weaves primary source documents into the story in such a way that one forgets they are reading a nonfiction text. The writing style and complexity of this book make it acceptable for teens in grades 9 through 12.

Themes: Biographies, Autobiographies and Memoirs, Imperial Russia, juvenile literary nonfiction, narrative history, narrative nonfiction, non-fiction, revolution, Romanovs, Royal History, Russia, Russian Revolution, Soviet Union, teen, teen nonfiction, tsar, YA, Young Adult

Click the links below to view photos of beautiful Russia, Estonia and Finland from my 2009 Study Abroad Tour.


Russia & Estonia

Estonia & Finland


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