"The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia" by Candace Fleming is a carefully researched nonfiction book about the last czar of Russia, Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, and their five children.
Fleming takes the reader to the beginning of the end. The reader meets Nicholas as a teenager, spoiled and unprepared to be a ruler. He and Alexandra meet as teenagers -- both children of rulers and both smitten by each other. Fleming alternates the story of Nicholas and Alexandra with stories of common Russians who live in poverty.
While many feel sympathy for the unfortunate rulers and their children who were murdered by revolutionaries, after reading about Nicholas' decisions and treatment of the people, such sympathy might very well change to a feeling that "he got what he deserved."
Nicholas was truly a despicable person, totally out of touch with his people. When the Russians organized a protest -- peaceful and respectful -- he directed his soldiers to stop them. The people were dressed in their best, carrying icons and signs showing their love for their czar, when they were fired upon and killed. Nicholas similarly allowed pogroms against the Jews.
While his people starved, worked eleven-hour days for barely enough money to pay for a room, and were abused by soldiers, Nicholas and his family played tennis and spent leisurely days in the country.
Fleming explains the process that led to the revolution, including Nicholas' finally agreeing to create a legislature only to disband it.
This is a wonderful study for fifth graders through middle school students studying history. The narrative is informative and fascinating, and the book is filled with primary-source material and photographs. It's a perfect addition to any classroom bookshelf or school library.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Schwartz & Wade for review purposes.
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