The history of (not so) great men and women, their lovers, wars, and marriages is back. After social historians from the 1970s reduced kings and queens to 'clowns in regal purple', beholden to impersonal social forces 'from below'; after cultural historians from the 1980s onwards elevated 'culture' and 'discourse' instead to movers of history – today the follies, achievements, and crimes of those in power are again capturing the imagination of both writers and readers of history. Following this new interest in the powerful, Simon Sebag Montefiore has provided a collective biography of Russia's rulers from 1613 to 1918.
Mark Edele reviews 'The Romanovs: 1613-1918' by Simon Sebag Montefiore
The Romanovs: 1613–1918
by Simon Sebag Montefiore
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, $45 hb, 779 pp, 9780297852667
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Mark Edele is the inaugural Hansen Chair in History at the University of Melbourne. An Australian Research Council Future Fellow (2015–19), he is the author of Soviet Veterans of the Second World War (2008), Stalinist Society (2011), and Stalin’s Defectors: How Red Army soldiers became Hitler’s collaborators (2017). Shelter from the Holocaust: Rethinking Jewish survival in the Soviet Union, edited with Sheila Fitzpatrick and Atina Grossmann, will be published later this year, and Red Empire: A Short History of the Soviet Union in 2018.
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