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James Joyce
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Half of a good book

The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg - Helen Rappaport

This book went on super sale when Rappaport's new book about the Romanov daughters came out. Zam! I love cheap Kindle books. 

 

I read the biography of the sisters first and was disappointed in how it petered out at the end--the author said in her preface that she had already written a book about the Ekaterinburg days and didn't want to go there again. 

 

So I read the book about Ekaterinburg. It's got some interesting tidbits about the sisters that weren't included in their biography--namely the story about Maria getting involved with one of their jailers, which resulted in a rift in the family and a clampdown on their privileges. As I said in my review of The Romanov Sisters, I can't understand how that anecdote got left out of the biography (especially when Rappaport had nearly nothing to say about Maria otherwise). 

 

The structure of the book is fairly clever--Rappaport starts each chapter with a description of the Romanovs in captivity and then jumps into other details: biographical information about everyone in the family, details about how the Bolsheviks were planning the Romanovs' deaths, political maneuverings in Russia and abroad. Some of these details are more interesting than others so parts of the book drag, but overall it's a vast improvement over the utter tedium of the last third of The Romanov Sisters. 

 

One final nitpick: there are no citations here. Rappaport addresses this in her author's note, justifying it as a way to keep the narrative flowing. I really dislike it when nonfiction books present a bunch of subjective statements without attributing them to anyone, so not knowing which story came from which source really bothered me. 

 

Some combination of this and The Romanov Sisters would create a pretty interesting read. By themselves the books fall a bit flat.