Sunday, 15 January 2012

Edvard Radzinsky - The Rasputin File

Review from Amazon :-
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.

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.

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