Rasputin : the last word

by Edvard Radzinsky

Other authorsJudson Rosengrant (Translator)
Hardcover, 2000




London : Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000.


Rasputin, one of the most fascinating and controversial figures of the twentieth century, has remained cloaked in the myth of his own devising since his extraordinary ascent to power in the court of Nicholas and Alexandra, the last tsar and tsarina of Russia. Until now. Edvard Radzinsky, the author of the international bestsellerThe Last Tsar, had long been frustrated by the meager explanations of the malign authority of Grigory Efimovich Rasputin, a Russian peasant, semiliterate monk, and mystic, in the last Romanov court. Then, in 1995, a file from the State Archives that had been missing for years came up for auction at Sotheby's, and was put in Radzinsky's hands. It contained the interrogations of Rasputin's inner circle of admirers and those who kept him under police surveillance--documents never seen by any other historian. With this file, Radzinsky is able to transform the biography of Rasputin from mysterious legend into fact. Using the depositions of Rasputin's friends, teachers, devotees, and fanatical female fans--the people who watched Rasputin nearly every day--Radzinsky presents a fascinating account of how Rasputin exercised and enlarged his power. Radzinsky reveals the full extent of Rasputin's charged relationship with the tsarina, and chronicles Rasputin's famous sexual odyssey through the demimonde of St. Petersburg, using the debauched women's own astonishingly frank testimony to uncover a trove of surprising secrets. Here is documented, for the first time, the way in which Rasputin actually gained access to the tsarist court, and the true identity of the man who shot and killed Rasputin in 1916. And finally, the author is able to provide the real reasons behind Rasputin's sway in virtually every imperial decision at the end of Russia's royal Romanov dynasty. Through his exclusive access to the Rasputin File, his own unrivaled research into other resources, and his proven talent for dramatic storytelling, Radzinsky is finally able to tell the complete, sensational story of Rasputin, fully documented and definitive. Edvard Radzinsky's fascination with Rasputin grew as he was writing The Last Tsar, but until he could penetrate the mystery he would not proceed. And then, miraculously, the documents long missing from the KGB files surfaced, finally enabling him to tell the story of the man who held such a hypnotic influence over the last Russian Tsar and Tsarina, and ultimately determined the fate of his country. Based on Radzinsky's persistent scholarship and enlivened by his superb flair for the dramatic, THE RASPUTIN FILE is a mesmerizing account of the man and brings a new understanding to the nature of Rasputin's power. -->… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Shrike58
I felt that I had enough background in Late-Tsarist Russia to get the maximum out of this book, but I probably needed to read a good biography of Nicholas & Alexandra before hand. That said, Radzinsky puts Rasputin into context in a way that I haven't seen before and the first two thirds of the book are really good. Whether you're impressed with the author's reconstruction of Rasputin's murder is another question.… (more)
LibraryThing member CarlaR
I keep hearing about how good the author is with Russian history, and especially this time period. For my part I thought that it was very informative as well and he really does know his stuff. I must also mention that I had a hard time getting through it, I don't know if the problem was the translation or the editing, but it was a hard read, but kinda worth it. Pretty good book!… (more)
LibraryThing member literati238
This book is excellent! I could hardly put it down, and it provides an interesting view into the life of a spiritual enigma. Radzinsky reveals a man who was deeply spiritual and a deliberate hedonist! The world, flesh, and devil are all present and glorified by Rasputin!
LibraryThing member kateh
I found this book fascinating. It was a rich portrayal of russian life in the period, exploring all the complexities of a society on the verge of revolution. Rasputin's peculiar hold on the Tsarina was especially interesting and his betrayal of her trust even more so. The author recounts numerous tales of Rasputin's misbehavior as examples of this betrayal. After reading this book i knew a lot more about the end of Imperial Russia but not as much about Rasputin as I would have liked. This is not a fault of the book but is due to his enigmatic persona.… (more)
LibraryThing member trulak
The only reason for the fewer stars is the translation from Russian to english is stilted and often leaves the subject matter dry and impersonal. Reads like a text book too often. Otherwise, a great look into a man accused of being a manipulator, but may in fact have been manipulated by yet another ambitious behind the throne female, taking a fall for things he never did. You decide.… (more)
LibraryThing member everfresh1
Great book, really presents Rasputin in a new light, all his shortcomings and craziness notwithstanding. The only gripe I have with this book - which also applies to other Radzinsky's historical books I read - is that often he presents his theories as something that is proven, even though most of the times they are just interesting suggestions.… (more)
LibraryThing member Bricker
I expected this book to be more of a biograph of Rasputin, and it definitely had those elements, but to me felt more like an examination of the Russian royal family and where he fit in. It was definitely in-depth if you have no knowledge of the tsars and political players of the late 1800s and early 1900s.
LibraryThing member ted_newell
Fasci-nating. A great read by a Russian author who undoubtedly brings Russian sensitivities to his subject. No wonder the autocracy was toppled in 1917. The political setup was Obscurantism City. It's half a wonder R wasn t done in earlier than 1916 -- a harbinger of the fast approaching end as it turned out.
LibraryThing member ocianain
Some great history is coming out of Russia. Radzinsky is one of the best!


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