Author Topic: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson  (Read 254482 times)

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Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #150 on: November 22, 2004, 11:26:26 AM »
I think that bit was just publicists blurb. Nothing they could do about it.
I like the book, a bit repetitous perhaps, but extremely well researched, detailed and for once, refreshing.
Also, I do not hink the Anastasia bit was necessarily perpetuated.
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Robert
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Offline Richard_Cullen

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #151 on: November 22, 2004, 01:51:41 PM »
Anastasiafan,

I don't think Greg and Penny have failed to do justice to the Imperial Family.  They were a family out of time, not just with those who sort to use revolution, but out of tune with the nation as a whole.

They were locked into the past - a past that many other modernised nations had left behind long ago.  I think Greg and Penny (and I don't know either personally) have captured what it IF was really like.  Aloof, arrogant, dismissive of others, not very bright and committed to preserving their lineage.  Other royal hoseholds across Europe with constitutional, or almost constitutional monarchies exhibited very much the same behaviour.

The arrogance of royalty at that time and the aristocracy which assumed they were the rightful 'leaders' kept, even in Great Britain, vast swathes of people were kept in servitude and not allowed to realise their potential.  How can that be right?  And I am not a communist, or a socialist, I just believe in social justice.  Yet when I compare Russia at the turn of the century to Germany, Great Britain, France (I know it was a Republic) Russia trails by miles - it is as if it is in a time warp.  That time warp was controlled by the Romanovs.

I have said elsewhere I am very sorry that they met such an unpleasant death, especially the children, in fact I can think of few things more horrible.  But I also find it difficult to in any way mitigate Nicholas and Alexandra's behaviour.

I don't think there was any scandal attached to the relationship between Rasputin, Alexandra or the girls as some might suggest.  But what a dumb relationship to fall into, and to compound the fact just about everyone, who was anyone told Nicholas so.  Alexandra just dismissed out of hand any criticism.  So blind if their murderers are to be believed the girls still had momentos of the man.  They had practised of course with their French friend Phillipe. Such lack of judgement, misguided beliefs and stupidity in two such powerful people beggars belief.

The children unfortunately reflected their parents' attitudes and had the world not been tuned upside down by World War I and Russia by the revolution they might have perpetuated that autocratic self belief well into the the 20th century.

I just wonder how many of us would have been favoured people in the Romanov regime - very, very few I would think unless you were born into royalty?  I wonder what our life would have been like in the unfashionable parts of St Petersburg, not particularly good I suspect.

It is unusual for me to express my views so strongly but I think fact is fact.  History should be fact and I thinkthat is what Greg and Penny have set out - the facts.  But as I have said before it would be a boring world if we all agreed.


Richard
I feel like one
Who treads alone
Some banquet-hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled,
Whose garlands dead,
And all, but he, departed!
Refrain:
Thus, in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain hath bound me,
Sad mem’ry brings the light
Of other days around me.

Thomas Moore 1815

Offline Richard_Cullen

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #152 on: November 22, 2004, 01:52:37 PM »
should have been 'sought' not sort

R
I feel like one
Who treads alone
Some banquet-hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled,
Whose garlands dead,
And all, but he, departed!
Refrain:
Thus, in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain hath bound me,
Sad mem’ry brings the light
Of other days around me.

Thomas Moore 1815

Offline Janet_W.

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #153 on: November 22, 2004, 02:10:02 PM »
My terminology re: my thoughts about the book is a bit different than the terminology others have been using. I don't love the book, for it tells me things which are uncomfortable to know and frequently extremely disturbing to contemplate. And although the approach does not idealize, extol or worship the family--as some authors might be accused of doing--I'm not sure I find the less-than-perfect family dynamics and the very probable betrayal of a trusted family retainer refreshing! I do, however, respect the book, realizing that it is the result of a tremendous amount of research, writing, and editing. Do I question some of the material? Of course. But not to the point that I discount it.

Today being the anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, I'll draw an analogy between the families. Discard whatever you may think of both the Romanovs and the Kennedys, but consider this: During the time JFK was in office, most of the press respected the Kennedys and their private lives, and what the press wrote about the family was almost without exception either worshipful or poked gentle fun. Only a few authors were critical--some in a hateful manner, a few using a measured tone. Then came the assassination. Suddenly, and for years after, the market was flooded with heartfelt but definitely sentimental reminiscences. In time, however, the mood changed, and the books began to either viciously attack or offer well-considered, legitimate criticism.

Although the censorship during the Kennedy regime was largely self-imposed by the members of the press themselves, I think there is a parallel to the Romanovs. Yes, scurrilous books did come out during the reign of the Romanovs--and books that contained valid criticism as well.  But after their overthrow, reminiscences began to proliferate, by those who knew them not as political icons but as people. Then, a long period of time went by . . . and Robert Massie came along, collating those various reminiscences, as well as the more critical thought. And from that point on an entirely new group of books were published about Nicholas and Alexandra, generally focused on the cohesiveness of their family.

FOTR is unusual in that it focuses on the family, but at a time in their lives when—revolution or no—the family’s dynamics would have been radically (no pun intended) changing. And yes, I realize that it has been stocked in many, many bookstores—but only a few copies for special interest folks like ourselves, rather than huge displays at the entrance, with stacks and stacks of copies nearby.

Another point: I think we should also consider that we bring our own history to each one of these books. If we have been reading an entire collection books that take a particular tone, then read something which challenges that tone, we are going to be brought up short. Also, it’s tough to read what we don’t necessarily want to read. That these people were three dimensional and—like us all—possessed frailties that were occasionally unendearing . . . well, again, there’s another jolt to our sensibilities!

I come from a family of four. If each of us had written a book about our family life, and then each of our friends also had written books about us—and, moreover, if each of these books by friends covered slightly different periods in our lives—you can bet there would be a dichotomy of tone and reportage.

Offline Laura Mabee

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #154 on: November 22, 2004, 04:06:58 PM »
Quote
Another point: I think we should also consider that we bring our own history to each one of these books. If we have been reading an entire collection books that take a particular tone, then read something which challenges that tone, we are going to be brought up short. Also, it’s tough to read what we don’t necessarily want to read. That these people were three dimensional and—like us all—possessed frailties that were occasionally unendearing . . . well, again, there’s another jolt to our sensibilities!
 
I come from a family of four. If each of us had written a book about our family life, and then each of our friends also had written books about us—and, moreover, if each of these books by friends covered slightly different periods in our lives—you can bet there would be a dichotomy of tone and reportage.


Janet, You're whole post was brillant, but I quoted this part because I believe this is something that everyone should think of.  :)

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #155 on: November 24, 2004, 11:11:43 AM »
    Alas, the duo of  King and  Wilson will certainly not be able to get a possitive consensus on the worth of FOTR or "Fate" as I will heretofor refer to it -so as to not confuse it with "The Fall of the Romanovs"- another (and in my opinion better) book on this same topic.
    Basicly King/Wilson point out some home truths about the Imperial Family, that many here might not like, they were full of human imperfections - no real news there...For the handfull of academics, scholars and hard core "rivet counters" at this site - the information that was suggested as radical, new and recently discovered is in fact information that has been availible and in print for some time!
    Maybe we are being too hard on them... Having read Mr. Kings work on Felix Yusupov, I now understand that his aim was simply to write a light, middle-brow book, full of pretty pictures, on an unusual and tragic member of the Tzarist court- not to present any kind of scholarly study.

    I was looking for the likes of Crankshaw and Figes --I found a collection of picture postcards instead...

ahhh well.

rskkiya



« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by rskkiya »

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #156 on: November 24, 2004, 12:10:44 PM »
Quote
   Alas, the duo of  King and  Wilson will certainly not be able to get a possitive consensus on the worth of FOTR or "Fate" as I will heretofor refer to it -so as to not confuse it with "The Fall of the Romanovs"- another (and in my opinion better) book on this same topic.
     Basicly King/Wilson point out some home truths about the Imperial Family, that many here might not like, they were full of human imperfections - no real news there...For the handfull of academics, scholars and hard core "rivet counters" at this site - the information that was suggested as radical, new and recently discovered is in fact information that has been availible and in print for some time!


I think "Fate of the Romanovs" (King and Wilson) can stand shoulder to shoulder with "Fall of the Romanovs" (Khrustalev and Steinberg) any day. To compare the two is similar to comparing apples and oranges - both are fruit, but different kinds. King and Wilson's book provides a historical narrative based on primary and other sources, while Khrustalev and Steinberg's book is essentially a collection of primary sources translated into English. Both are valuable resources for Romanov scholars, but serve different purposes. That said, I prefer King and Wilson's book for a number of reasons.

As much as I applaud the publication of Khrustalev and Steinberg's book, and wish they would follow it up with a sequel (because there are so many primary sources that have yet to be published, either in Russian or in English!), I found more minor errors in it than I did in King and Wilson's book - for example, the dating of the "letters from a Russian Officer" (the "rescue conspiracy" in June 1918). I think Wilson and King actually devoted a lot more time and energy to working out an accurate day-to-day timeline of the events in the Ipatiev House, and the effort shows. I also have to say that I always thought Khrustalev and Steinberg's introduction to their book was a little condescending to the general reader (the usual tried and true, but much over-used "it's all a matter of self-projection" theoretical line). King and Wilson seem to have more respect both for their subject matter and for (all of) their readers.

Additionally, while most of the primary sources translated into English in "Fall of the Romanovs" were already available in Russian publications at the time this book was published, there is a wealth of new information in King and Wilson's book - most of it still otherwise unavailable to anyone working outside of the Russian archives. To give just two outstanding examples, King and Wilson fill in the individual backgrounds and personalities of many of the guards in the Ipatiev House, and provide new and intriguing details about  their relationships with the prisoners (including the incident with Maria and the guard Skorokhodov).

The only minor criticisms I have of Wilson and King's book have to do with certain (possible) embellishments I detected in the murder chapter (when you read the primary sources in the original Russian, it is not at all clear that the witness, speaking 45 years after the event, is not exaggerating this or that detail, or that based on such conflicting statements, you can really state with any certainty that so-and-so was the one who did such and such) and also, the authors' argument towards the end that the deaths of Alexei and Anastasia are not an established historical fact. I think most academic historians would disagree with them on this, on the basis of the evidence provided in "Fate of the Romanovs" alone!

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline Janet_W.

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #157 on: November 24, 2004, 01:34:12 PM »
Well, I now know what I'm going to be doing this Thanksgiving holiday weekend . . . comparing and contrasting my copies of Fate and Fall!  :D

Offline Richard_Cullen

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #158 on: November 24, 2004, 01:47:33 PM »
I think the comments about Greg's book on Felix Yusupov are excessive and not called for.  I am not sure what a scholarly book looks like, but I have some difficulty in anyone writing a biography in the normal sense about Felix Yusupov.

Firstly you could only go up to his time of exile, what did he do of any note after that other than write his memoirs and sue people?

Had he not been involved in some way in Rasputin's death (and not any where near as much as he suggests) he would have been just another not very bright, very rich, very confused, duplicitous boy, living a highly privileged life in Tsarist Russia.

There is so much padding in 'Lost Splendour' that when you deconstruct it you are left with very little.  So much of what Yusupov says about himself is unreliable that I have to wonder if the word 'truth' was in his dictionary.

When I first started researching Russian history I think like many I saw him as a sort of hero figure.  I have come to know him as a thoroughly unpleasant, devious, manipulator of the truth.

For 70 odd years we have believed the stories of Yusupov and those who knew of him Purishkevich's accounts of Rasputin murders.  They lied, three shots at close range, one at contact range to the forehead. Doesn't quite fit the glory story they crafted.

I think Greg did a superb job writing about a subject with so little history or substance in his life.

It is easy to criticise historians, writing history and historical biographies is a difficult and time consuming task.

So far as speculation about what witnesses may or may not say some years on (FOTR) - it is doubtful if this can ever be satisfactorily resolved without a forensic (of the court) re-examination of the evidence.  Even such an in depth and time consuming project might not iron out differences or conclusively support the facts one way or another.

Richard
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Richard_Cullen »
I feel like one
Who treads alone
Some banquet-hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled,
Whose garlands dead,
And all, but he, departed!
Refrain:
Thus, in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain hath bound me,
Sad mem’ry brings the light
Of other days around me.

Thomas Moore 1815

Offline Louise

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #159 on: November 24, 2004, 02:04:06 PM »
I have enjoyed FOTR each time I have read it. I for one am extremely glad for the other dimension of the IF that was portrayed. History cannot and should not be seen with rose coloured glasses, but should in fact attempt to look objectively at the subject. The subjects in question are the IF in captivity. This is not a light, and airy scenario regarding the family and  it is not about the wonderful, idealic life they lead before the revolution. It is about their captivity and deaths. They were human, they did have their faults and quarrels and their sometimes pettiness.

I found the book more poignant that most  books I read, because Greg and Penny forced to look at their exile and murderalmost from  the beginning of the book and not in the last pages, like so many other books do .

I have been reading about the Romanovs since I was 15 and I have to say, I did learn many new things in this book and many awoke me from the usual perspective we are use to reading about. For that I am thankful.

Now I am off to study the Black Death and relish the pestilence and mayhem of the middle ages! Whoever said history is boring and dull doesn't know what the heck they are talking about. Death, mayhem, bigotry, incest, adultry, cutthroat politics just keep me clued to my books. :)

Louise

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Offline Abby

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #160 on: November 24, 2004, 07:32:06 PM »
Quote

The only minor criticisms I have of Wilson and King's book have to do with certain (possible) embellishments I detected in the murder chapter (when you read the primary sources in the original Russian, it is not at all clear that the witness, speaking 45 years after the event, is not exaggerating this or that detail, or that based on such conflicting statements, you can really state with any certainty that so-and-so was the one who did such and such) and also, the authors' argument towards the end that the deaths of Alexei and Anastasia are not an established historical fact. I think most academic historians would disagree with them on this, on the basis of the evidence provided in "Fate of the Romanovs" alone!



yes i thought that too about the murder scene! it was so detailed, how did they know all that? it was so horrific, i could only read it once.

but elizabeth, if you think the evidence in the book points toward the deaths of Anastasia and Alexei being historical fact, woulnd't that contradict King and Wilson saying that the bodies were never found ? I forget exactly what they say in the book, I will have to go back and look!
:)

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #161 on: November 27, 2004, 07:51:04 AM »
Abby, while it's true that the remains of Anastasia and Alexei have never been found, this doesn't mean that their deaths in July 1918 cannot be considered an established historical fact. Bodies in murder cases are not always found - and yet perpetrators have been tried and convicted for those murders. The most famous historical case of missing murder victims (aside from Anastasia and Alexei) is probably that of the Princes in the Tower - they vanished without any apparent trace for almost two hundred years (skeletal remains were not discovered until 1674), yet most contemporary historians rightly assumed that they had been killed. I think, given the particularly brutal nature of the Romanov murders and the number of wounds inflicted on the victims on the night of July 16-17, 1918, there is no possibility that any of them could have survived for more than a few hours (particularly Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia). This is also the assumption made by most historians.

But all this essentially boils down to an issue of interpretation. I simply disagree with King and Wilson on this point - it doesn't necessarily mean they're wrong! Ditto with the murder chapter. I don't have access to all the sources they used - some of the statements by participants and witnesses have yet to be published in Russia or the West - so all I can do is base my opinion on those sources I am familiar with, such as the reminiscences of one of the murderers, Kudrin. What I questioned about the description of the murders in FOTR was, for example, how King and Wilson could know for certain that it was Maria who ran for the storage room doors (in other statements, Maria was standing with Demidova apart from the other women, already next to those very same doors), or for that matter, that she only suffered one gunshot wound, to the leg (because all bullet wounds do not leave traces on the skeleton - and the skull presumed to be Marie's was extremely damaged). Again, this is all a matter of interpretation. Given the same set of facts, different people can reach rather different conclusions, although hopefully we all agree on the general outline of what happened (that is, most of the victims did not leave the Ipatiev House alive).

And for a thorough discussion of the mystery of the missing bodies, see "The Missing Bodies" thread!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline Abby

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #162 on: November 27, 2004, 02:02:59 PM »
Quote
Abby, while it's true that the remains of Anastasia and Alexei have never been found, this doesn't mean that their deaths in July 1918 cannot be considered an established historical fact. Bodies in murder cases are not always found - and yet perpetrators have been tried and convicted for those murders.


Ah yes, I understand. It really is not probable to assume that they survived based on the fact that bodies were never found. As we have discussed before, numerous things could have happened to the bodies after the two children died.


Quote
What I questioned about the description of the murders in FOTR was, for example, how King and Wilson could know for certain that it was Maria who ran for the storage room doors (in other statements, Maria was standing with Demidova apart from the other women, already next to those very same doors),


I agree here. It seems as though the details in the murder scene were very specific for having been derrived from the analysis of the skeletons. I mean, scientists can tell the manner and type of injury, and route of entry and positioning and all that, but if the details such as where each victim was standing and which one ran for the storeroom door were taken from the accounts of the executioners, I think the accounts were too varying in content from one another to consider one to be the truth.

Offline hikaru

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #163 on: May 03, 2005, 08:18:58 AM »
I have just bought this book in Russian.
The cover is very stylish. Dark blue.
The Russian name is  "Romanovs: The Fate of the Tsar's dynasty.

Offline Abby

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #164 on: May 03, 2005, 09:07:58 AM »
Really? Are you sure that it is  the same book? If so, that's neat. I didn't know they had it in Russian.