Literature - Nonfiction

Rasputin Biography That Will Change Our Understanding Of A Fascinating Figure

Rasputin - Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs
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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. More Information…

‘Rasputin’ Unravels the Myths of the ‘Mad Monk’

The New York Times Book Review – December 29, 2016 (Excerpt)

From the opening pages of his colossal biography of Grigory Rasputin, the historian Douglas Smith dismantles many of the myths enshrouding the monk who exerted inordinate influence over Nicholas II and Alexandra, emperor and empress of Russia, during the twilight of the Romanov dynasty a century ago.

His surname did not derive from the Russian word for reprobate. He was not a youthful horse thief, though he once spent two days in jail for being rude to a local bureaucrat. He did not expose his (legendarily large) penis after a night of debauchery in a Moscow restaurant in 1915.

He could not have been the illegitimate father of Alexei, the emperor’s only son and heir, as rumored. Nor was he the source of the prayers Alexandra fervently believed made Alexei’s birth possible. Read more…