This one is for people who know nothing about the fall of the Hapsburgs, Hohenzollerns, and Romanovs, and don't want to learn very much. Sulzberger, the New York Times foreign columnist, writes a long book as if he were composing occasional columns. Anecdotes are repeated time and time again, the habit of a writer obliged to assume that no one is paying constant attention. Sulzberger admits a complete lack of sympathy with the institution of monarchy, moreover, and shows no understanding of it. Questionable contentions are made, based on outright error. ""Cruelty became a dynastic familiar,"" he says, describing Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, ""as is so often the case when Teuton and Slav mix""; but Peter was entirely Slav and Catherine entirely Teuton. His emphases are all on human interest rather than on interpreting a difficult period--thus he spends two chapters on Rasputin and never mentions the Balkan Wars. Pages and pages bemoan the rise of Lenin, blaming the German strategy of sending him to Russia in 1917, which is portrayed as one of history's great crimes. Alongside the many well-written works on this period and its personalities for the general reader (Crankshaw, Tuchman, Cowles), this is a collection of haphazard anecdotes drawn out to interminable length.