Rasputin: A short life


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Dec 21, Bridie rated it really liked it. What a horrible example of a human being. To state that his own actions and sins would cleanse others of their own, and then actively seek out those sins in order to engage.

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I mean, extra-marital affairs, alcoholism and whispers of rape to be frowned upon unless you are Rasputin, then you are assisting others who have engaged to cleanse their own. I feel what I was most interested in was how Rasputin managed to manipulate the Tsar and Tsarina into granting him such power, wealth and control What a horrible example of a human being. I feel what I was most interested in was how Rasputin managed to manipulate the Tsar and Tsarina into granting him such power, wealth and control with little to no consequences.

Absolutely fascinating read. A brief biography of Rasputin, the Mad Monk of Russia. I remember learning about him briefly at school when we were studying Russia but this is the first biography I've read. Whether you believe he was a mystic or a charlatan, he certainly led an interesting life. He also had bloody big cojones to get away with the things he did. This is a great introduction to Rasputin if you've never heard of him or know little although you might end up like me with the Boney M song stuck in your head for days A brief biography of Rasputin, the Mad Monk of Russia.

This is a great introduction to Rasputin if you've never heard of him or know little although you might end up like me with the Boney M song stuck in your head for days. Jun 04, Dalton rated it did not like it. Better suited for children than adults. Welch's writing and structure borders on that of crassness while providing skimpy details on the vastly interesting Rasputin.

Rasputin: A Short Life (Paperback) by Welch Frances

I try and find redeeming qualities, be it from something even as minuscule as good pictures or credits, but fail to find any at all. A horribly disappointing read for a subject that requires far better. Clear, concise and well phrased. A fascinating and even-handed look at one of Russian history's most polarising and mysterious figures.

Jun 20, Doug Lewars rated it really liked it. Frances Welch seems to suggest that while the Tsarina admired and possibly loved Rasputin, that love was purely platonic. She was devoted to her husband and, whatever could be said about Rasputin, he wasn't so stupid as to do something that would threaten the relationship between himself and his meal ticket. Certainly Rasputin was a womanizer and didn't much care about obtaining consent. He took what was given and he took what wasn't given in equal measures. In addition, he liked to pretend that his lusts were inspired by God and that he was taking such sin as might exist in the liaison upon himself.

He drank to excess, he fornicated with anyone who might be considered female, he ate like a pig and it is doubtful that he ever heard of hygiene as either a word or a concept. The author goes to considerable lengths to explain how such an disagreeable individual could hold sway over much of the politics of Russia at the time. It is fascinating reading. Of course the author is limited to the historical material that is available and while he made the best of it, it would have been nicer had he been able to dig a little deeper.

Rasputin was probably an incredible con artist. He created the illusion of having vast psychic powers and, certainly, it is difficult to say how he carried it off although I'm pretty certain that modern stage magicians would be able to emulate his tricks. In addition, the author had to work with what was written and there is no guarantee that every detail was present or, that the reporters even knew all the details. Still this is an interesting book and the author does make the case that without Rasputin, there is a good chance that Lenin would never have risen to power - that in fact it was a backlash against Rasputin and his excesses that provided a large amount of fuel for the revolution.

Feb 04, Sammy rated it it was ok Shelves: , biography , upside-down-challenge. I had high hopes for this, as I've always found the Romanovs and their relationship with Rasputin to be fascinating. The fact that this book was supposed to consist of mostly hearsay didn't bother me. Just treat it as anything you'd come across on Facebook with a huge pinch of salt , and I figured it could be highly entertaining.

Unfortunately the book isn't so much a book as a collection of sentences. There is no narrative flow, possibly due to the fact that there are far too many short sentenc I had high hopes for this, as I've always found the Romanovs and their relationship with Rasputin to be fascinating. There is no narrative flow, possibly due to the fact that there are far too many short sentences, with little to tie them together and a whole lot of jumping back and forth along the timeline, for no discernible reason other than that the author must have thought of something then and there, so there it was going to sit.

Basically, the whole thing lacks cohesion, and could really, really use a better editor. Oct 16, Aimee rated it did not like it Shelves: library , russian. While I don't think this biography is unreadable, I do think it's quite rudimentary. It's choppy and unfocused, with a writing style I can't help but feel was childish.

I've been reading a While I don't think this biography is unreadable, I do think it's quite rudimentary. I've been reading another Rasputin biography by Douglas Smith in conjunction with this and the difference in quality is quite stark.

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I'd really say the only reason to pick this up is if you have absolutely no knowledge of the subject matter to begin with and want something short that'll give you a glimpse, but to me reading the wikipedia page would do so and be quicker, conciser and more enjoyable. Oct 04, LoudVal rated it it was ok. I bought this three years ago in an airport as I am wont to do, and there's a reason it took this long to finish it.

Florid prose, over dramatic with nothing to add, like a soap opera script. Great moments were overwrought and others could not hold the thread together couldn't follow which characters were saying what, and it's not due to Russian names themselves , and dare I say sloppily edited? The fact that she said "spanner" three times and it stuck with me is not good.

Gr life and times wer I bought this three years ago in an airport as I am wont to do, and there's a reason it took this long to finish it. Gr life and times were interesting enough without having to editorialise. The subtitle is "a short life" but that's more a reflection of the content of the book itself?

Jul 14, Greg Kerestan rated it really liked it. Is this biography of Rasputin salacious? Maybe a little, but only to the extent that telling the story of the "mad monk" has to be. Rather, Welch's compelling little potboiler of a biography paints an even-handed picture of a complicated figure, at once mastermind and stooge. Best bit of Rasputin trivia you won't hear anywhere else: he was both a love of folk dancing, and a gadget aficionado. When the urge to dance would overcome him, he would use his new and expensive telephone a rarity in his Is this biography of Rasputin salacious?

When the urge to dance would overcome him, he would use his new and expensive telephone a rarity in his area to call a musically inclined friend, who wound sing and play violin while Rasputin, holding the phone, would drop and do a hearty peasant folk dance.

Jun 27, Lynne rated it really liked it. Always a fascinating topic, this engaging and informative short study of the life of the infamous 'mad monk' is a great introduction to the shenanigans of Grigory Rasputin and the doomed court of the last Romanovs. Welch's style is almost novelistic in tone and pace which makes it a quick read in spite of the lengthy Russian names. Of course it is a familiar story, but much of Rasputin's early life and that outside of St Petersburg is less familiar and is brought to life admirably in this engagi Always a fascinating topic, this engaging and informative short study of the life of the infamous 'mad monk' is a great introduction to the shenanigans of Grigory Rasputin and the doomed court of the last Romanovs.

Of course it is a familiar story, but much of Rasputin's early life and that outside of St Petersburg is less familiar and is brought to life admirably in this engaging short book. Great introduction that serves the casual reader and the serious historian well. Apr 16, Rick Hunter rated it really liked it. The book starts narrating Rasputin's early life and I found that very interesting.

However, as the story progresses, the book focuses a lot on historic characters relationships with Rasputin. It is obvious there was a tremendous amount of research done. However, I was expecting more details on why he is such a mystical character. Perhaps get more into Rasputin's feats. The book really gets my attention towards the end when it gets into Rasputin's murder plot and developments in detail. It is pre The book starts narrating Rasputin's early life and I found that very interesting.

It is presented in a respectful and exquisite way and it made me turn around about how I felt about this book. Overall it is an enjoyable read and I can recommend it. Lastly, I'd like to review the book itself. I think that a book's characteristics are important factors in making a book enjoyable. The book is very light so it is easy to hold for extended periods of time without your hand getting tired. The font is easy to read and you will find photos throughout the book and that makes it that much more interesting.

The cover is beautifully designed and colored. This is a book that captures your imagination at first sight. I just had to pick-up this book when I saw it for the first time and I am glad I did. I guess it is fine to judge a book by its cover. Aug 06, Joseph Ramsden rated it liked it. A good, quick little biography. Jul 04, Sportyrod rated it really liked it. An interesting preview about Rasputin. Due to his peasantry, differentiating folklore from fact is difficult but was nevertheless a good read. Dec 03, Mel rated it it was amazing. Quite unusually for a historical non-fiction book this was so easy to read while still being informative and keeping the reader intrigued.

Mar 03, Jesslyn rated it it was ok. Too much detail of his sexual exploits for my taste. Oct 06, Katy rated it it was amazing Shelves: reads , first-reads. I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads giveaways Let me preface this review by saying that I approached this book essentially no knowledge of the history of Russia, its nobility, the Revolution, the Romanovs, or Rasputin. I can't critique this book on its accuracy even a little bit. I will also say that I don't read a lot of nonfiction, and when I do, it is rarely biographies.

This is not a something I would have picked off a shelf at a book store. Wholly outside of my I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads giveaways Let me preface this review by saying that I approached this book essentially no knowledge of the history of Russia, its nobility, the Revolution, the Romanovs, or Rasputin. Wholly outside of my realm. With that being said, this was a quick and engaging read.

I feel like the author did well in making it read like a story, rather than a litany of fact [or at least, as close to fact as possible; nearly all the sources, even and especially the first-hand sources are unreliable]. At times, it felt almost novel-like. Quotes from letters, telegrams, diary entries, and memoirs are used with great effect, and are worked into accompanying text smoothly. Much of what actually occurred during Rasputin's life can't be known for certain; as I said, even the first-hand accounts are unreliable.

Everyone involved with the man, it seems, had some reason or another to twist facts or tell lies to suit their own agenda. This biography, though, seems like it has been well-researched, taken motive into consideration, and come to the likeliest of conclusions. It seems balanced and offers multiple views. The pictures, which are scattered throughout, are absolutely fabulous.

They're all black and white, captioned, and not gathered in a center photo section like is done with many books. They give a lot of dimension to the words and are a really great addition. I found this book really intriguing, well-written, interesting, and couldn't put it down, to my surprise; like I said, this is fairly new territory for me, and I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Oct 22, Chris rated it really liked it Shelves: first-reads , non-fiction , arc.

The author drew on many documents and letters and quoted many times but it did not feel like an essay or some other dry piece of historical context. In fact, it did sort of read like a novelization of his life. A life that was fantastical as well as mundane. Starting from his birth, the book follows Rasputin through his childhood and upstart in his home town and then as he wandered about the world and eventually made his way into the good graces of the Tsar and Tsarina. His counsel was taken verbatim, which also caused many enemies. He had multiple attempts on his life and eventually the plot that got him was described in as much detail as possible.

A brief section of "where are they now? Rasputin truly was an original character and whether his mystical claims are truth, the author did not push her own views to influence the reader. She jsut presented what was said about him and left it at that.

Rasputin: A Short Life

Payment could be made in money, pledges of loyalty, or, most controversially, "kisses". During quieter times perhaps this all would have passed, but Russia was entering a period of intense crisis. Another Duma was called, and also dispersed, and then another.

Under the leadership of prime minister Pyotr Stolypin the country's economic performance improved rapidly. But Stolypin was assassinated in The judgment of most historians is that the autocracy had no chance of surviving a war it could not win. And yet the war was won, eventually. What if Nicholas had held on another year? There's no question that some changes would have been in order. But he and his family may have had a different fate. That they didn't can at least partly be attributed to Rasputin. His true nature — that of a drunk who made it a principle to start undressing every woman he met, until she made him stop — had become clear to people in St Petersburg relatively quickly, and soon Rasputin's relationship with the royal family became a scandal.

The orthodox church, which had supported him, now tried to bring his behaviour to the attention of the tsar. It had no effect. Stolypin considered the question a sufficiently vital matter of state that he, too, presented a report: this also was ignored. And on it went. Rasputin had convinced Alexandra of his holiness, and no amount of evidence could turn her against him. All warnings about Rasputin came to seem like attacks on the family, and further isolated them from the people who wanted to help.


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The worse things got, the more Alexandra came to rely on Rasputin's judgment. In the summer of , with the war going poorly for Russia, Nicholas decided to leave the capital and assume command of the Russian army. This was a moderately bad idea militarily, but it was a disastrous idea for the government, which was left in Alexandra's hands.

The tsarina was devoted to Russia, but inexperienced, and blinded by her belief in Rasputin. Under their joint direction a series of catastrophic decisions were made, as experienced ministers who disliked Rasputin were dismissed in favour of non-entities and incompetents.

Rasputin: A Short Life by Frances Welch | The Sunday Times

For years there had been crazy rumours that he and the empress were lovers; now people became convinced that they were also German spies. Throughout all this, people kept trying to kill Rasputin. Welch lists at least four assassination attempts, including one by the female follower of a rival holy man, Iliodor, who stabbed Rasputin in the stomach. He survived. The final, successful attempt came in December , and was carried out by a monarchist Duma deputy and two young aristocrats — one of them, Felix Yusupov, was the heir to Russia's largest fortune, and the other, Grand Duke Dmitry, was a nephew of the tsar.

Yusupov lured Rasputin to his house, where he fed him poisoned cakes and wine, and, when these did not have their intended effect, shot him in the back. Rasputin, however, got up and started running away, at which point he was shot again by the Duma deputy.


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The conspirators then wrapped him in a curtain, bound his hands and threw him in a hole in the ice in the Neva river; he drowned. They had hoped to save the autocracy, but if anything things became worse, and in any case it was too late. Just two months later crowds took to the streets of St Petersburg, and Nicholas was forced to give up the throne.

In one of its few wise moves the provisional government dug up Rasputin's body and burned it.

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