The Romanovs: 1613–1918
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, $45 hb, 779 pp, 9780297852667
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.