Rasputin : The Biography

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A hundred years after his murder, Rasputin continues to excite the popular imagination as the personification of evil. The spectre of the lustful Siberian holy man and peasant still casts its eerie shadow over Russia's bloody twentieth century. Numerous biographies, novels, and films recount his mysterious rise to power as Nicholas and Alexandra's confidant and guardian of the sickly heir to the throne. His debauchery and sinister political influence are the stuff of legend, and the downfall of the Romanov dynasty was laid at his feet. Even during his lifetime Rasputin was shrouded in myth and his true story remains obscure today.

Douglas Smith's Rasputin separates fact from fiction to reveal the true life of one of history's most alluring figures. Rasputin draws on a wealth of forgotten documents from archives in seven countries and is the most thoroughly researched biography ever written. Demolishing the caricature of the holy devil, Smith's account presents Rasputin in all his complexity - man of God, voice of peace, loyal subject, adulterer, drunkard. More than just the story of an extraordinary life, Rasputin offers a fascinating portrait of the twilight of Imperial Russia as it lurched towards catastrophe.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 848 pages
  • 160 x 240 x 55mm | 1,131g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Unabridged
  • Unabridged edition
  • 32 pp plates
  • 1447245849
  • 9781447245841
  • 102,177

Table of contents

Section - i: List of Illustrations
Section - ii: Maps
Section - iii: Notes on Dates and Spelling

Unit - Part One: HOLY PILGRIM 1869-1904
Chapter - 1: Origins
Chapter - 2: The Pilgrim
Chapter - 3: Nicholas and Alexandra
Chapter - 4: Monsieur Philippe
Chapter - 5: Alexei
Chapter - 6: The Burning Torch
Chapter - 7: The Mad Monk
Unit - Part Two: OUR FRIEND: 1905-1909
Chapter - 8: To the Throne
Chapter - 9: Rasputin-Novy
Chapter - 10: Sects and Whips
Chapter - 11: Demons of the Silver Age
Chapter - 12: Anna Vyrubova
Chapter - 13: The Eyes
Chapter - 14: ". . . prayers that purify and protect us."
Chapter - 15: The Investigation: Part I
Chapter - 16: The First Test
Chapter - 17: "better ten Rasputins . . ."
Unit - Part Three: SCANDALS: 1910-1911
Chapter - 18: Trouble in the Nursery
Chapter - 19: The Press Discovers Rasputin
Chapter - 20: In Search of Rasputin
Chapter - 21: Prince Yusupov
Chapter - 22: Holy Land
Chapter - 23: Rasputin in His Own Words
Chapter - 24: Iliodor's Triumph
Chapter - 25: Two Murders
Chapter - 26: Confronting the "Antichrist"
Unit - Part Four: A TIME OF MIRACLES: 1912-July 1914
Chapter - 27: Germogen's Fall
Chapter - 28: Iliodor, Apostate
Chapter - 29: Quousque tandem abutere patientia nostra?
Chapter - 30: The Blow to the Alcove
Chapter - 31: The Investigation II: Was Rasputin a Khlyst?
Chapter - 32: The Miracle at Spala
Chapter - 33: War and Celebration
Chapter - 34: Gutter Talk, Name-Glorifiers, and Murder Plots
Chapter - 35: On the Edge of a Precipice
Chapter - 36: The Attack
Chapter - 37: "This time it didn't work . . ."
Chapter - 38: Iliodor's Flight
Unit - Part Five: WAR: July 1914-1915
Chapter - 39: A Menacing Cloud
Chapter - 40: The Incident at the Yar
Chapter - 41: Rasputin's Women
Chapter - 42: Dinner with Rasputin
Chapter - 43: The Religious Faces of Rasputin
Chapter - 44: A Summer of Troubles
Chapter - 45: The Tovarpar
Chapter - 46: Nicholas Takes Command
Chapter - 47: Rasputin, Favorite
Chapter - 48: Fresh Scandal
Chapter - 49: The Troika
Chapter - 50: Gorokhovaya, 64
Chapter - 51: Dark Forces and Mad Chauffeurs
Chapter - 52: Another Miracle
Unit - Part Six: THE FINAL YEAR: 1916
Chapter - 53: Revolution in the Air
Chapter - 54: The Minister Plots Murder
Chapter - 55: Iliodor in America
Chapter - 56: With Us or With Them
Chapter - 57: Rasputin the Spy?
Chapter - 58: Rasputin and the Jews
Chapter - 59: "The sun will shine . . ."
Chapter - 60: Apotheosis
Chapter - 61: Stupidity or Treason
Chapter - 62: "Vanya has arrived."
Chapter - 63: "My hour will soon strike"
Chapter - 64: The Last Day
Chapter - 65: A Cowardly Crime
Chapter - 66: The Investigation
Chapter - 67: The Body in the Water
Chapter - 68: The Romanov Family Drama
Chapter - 69: Orgies, Gay Love, and the Secret Hand of the British
Chapter - 70: The End of the Tobolsk Yoke
Unit - Part Seven: THE AFTERMATH: 1917-1918
Chapter - 71: A Time for Dominoes
Chapter - 72: Here Lies the Dog
Chapter - 73: The Myth
Chapter - 74: Unsettled Business

Section - iv: Epilogue
Acknowledgements - v: Acknowledgements
Section - vi: Bibliography
Section - vii: Endnotes
Index - viii: Index
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Review quote

Douglas Smith has delivered the definitive biography that is brilliantly gripping, as hypnotic, wild and erotic in its revelations as the Mad Monk himself, sensitive in its human portrait, astute in its political analysis, superbly researched with rich new material gathered in faraway archives, and populated with the zaniest cast of the deranged Romanovs, depraved bishops, whores, mountebanks, adventuresses, mystics and murderers. -- Simon Sebag Montefiore The most comprehensive account of Rasputin to date, brimming with complexities and fascinating detail, and stands as an enlightening re-evaluation of this crucial figure in Russian history. Daily Telegraph Douglas Smith begins this impressive biography by rubbishing almost everything previously written, stripping away a century of myth, fabrication, gossip and lies ... a fascinating, often entertaining, biography. The Times Utterly fascinating and foreniscally detailed ...There are plenty of Rasputin biographies already, but its superlative scholarship and attention to detail put this one in a class of its own. -- Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times This brilliantly written, meticulously researched account of the life of Rasputin is the best, most complete and accurate I have ever read. Step by step, day by day, week by week in this life, Douglas Smith tells the story from its humble beginnings, through its obscene sexual chapters, to its violent end. He describes how a peasant became 'Our Friend' to the last emperor and empress of Russia. He explains why this dependency came at terrible cost for the imperial couple, for their children, for Russia, and for the Twentieth Century world. Readers will begin by saying that this is an impossible story to believe. They will read on because, in Douglas Smith's mesmerizing telling, it must be believed. And because it did happen. -- Robert K. Massie, author of Nicholas and Alexandra Some years ago when working on a historical novel I had to read all the existing Rasputin biographies, and they do abound - in all literary styles and in many languages. What a pity that Douglas Smith's Rasputin had not yet been published, it would have saved me a lot of time. If you are interested in the story of the Romanovs' pet prophet this is the book to read. -- Boris Akunin A prodigious piece of scholarship. Doug Smith's exhaustive and forensic examination of a wealth of new and previously unseen evidence finally lays to rest the tired old myth of 'the mad monk' and rightly positions Rasputin as a crucial figure in late Imperial Russian history. -- Helen Rappaport, author of Four Sisters Douglas Smith understands that history is not only what happened, but what people think happened. In Rasputin, he deftly unpicks myth, legend and fact, separating and examining each thread, before weaving them back to create a pattern not merely of a man, but of a time, and a place, and a revolution. It is, itself, revolutionary. -- Judith Flanders, author of A Circle of Sisters Few figures in 20th century history have been more obscured by myth and legend than Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin, the mystic confident of the last tsar and tsarina. In his research, comprehensive to the nth degree, Douglas Smith has dug up previously unseen archives, followed previously unexplored leads, and connected the dots across the Russian landscape. They're dots of blood. Rasputin reveals the true character of the man without minimizing his malign hold on the loathsome, feckless Romanovs. -- Ken Kalfus, author of The Commissariat of Enlightenment The very best biographies illuminate an individual and the time and place in which they lived. In this magisterial, exhaustively-researched work on Rasputin, Douglas Smith paints a rich, detailed portrait of one of history's most fascinating individuals while also chronicling the dramatic last days of the Tsar. It's a wondrous read. -- Neal Bascomb, author of The Winter Fortress It is hard to imagine a historical figure more barnacled with myth than Rasputin. Douglas Smith unravels Rasputin's complex narrative in unprecedented detail, showing how he was a kind of chimera onto which could be hung all the ills of a disintegrating Russia. In the process Smith vividly exposes the astonishing blindness of the ruling class that made its tragic end inevitable. A brilliant achievement. -- Rosemary Sullivan, author of Stalin's Daughter The most complete and masterful study of Rasputin that I've read. Douglas Smith's work is not only extraordinarily readable, but rich in detail. -- Robert Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen Boy
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About Douglas Smith

Douglas Smith is an internationally recognized expert in Russian history and critically acclaimed author of several books, including the award-winning bestseller Former People (also published by Pan Macmillan). Before becoming a historian, Douglas Smith worked with the US State Department in the Soviet Union and as a Russian affairs analyst for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich. He lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.
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Rating details

574 ratings
3.8 out of 5 stars
5 24% (138)
4 41% (238)
3 26% (151)
2 7% (42)
1 1% (5)
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