I picked this up because my knowledge of Russian history is far too limited. As I read, I had to wonder why this was not covered more thoroughly at some point in my schooling, especially since history was my minor. Why is it that our kids know next to nothing about any history other than American and, in my state, Texas history. Sure there are classes in World History but they seem to be marathons with little depth. I knew the basics of the story and was very interested in Rasputin's role. This book did not disappoint. Tsar Nicholas II had no desire, preparation, or ability to rule. His wife, Empress Alexandra was a bit more adept but increasingly obsessed with superstition and fanatic religiosity. The children were sheltered innocents. They royals were amazingly obtuse and stubborn in the face of growing unrest. They simply chose not to believe what their advisors urgently warned. So they all died and the Russian Revolution began with catastropic repercussions that still reverberate today. Even though the family was self indulgent and out of touch, author Candace Fleming casts them in a very human light and allows the reader to get to know their personalities. Clearly the children were innocent victims of the family's fate. I was left with mixed feelings of sympathy and disgust. The royal couple brought terrible pain and hard times on the entire country as well as upon themselves.
The book is billed for ages 12-up but I can say without reservation that is a great read for adults. If you're like me, you'll learn a lot.