THE TRAGIC DYNASTY by John Bergamini


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Another booted and spurred attempt to wrap up all the Romanovs, perhaps not quite as indigenous as Almedingen's foray in 1966, but generally readable and informative for so huge a design. (Who would package the English monarchs from 1647-1918, for example?) However, Mr. Bergamini's go is admirable on two fronts. First, he does catch enough rumblings -- political, social, military, economic and intellectual -- outside the Tsars' immediate preserves to conjure up a peculiarly Russian tumult of which the Revolution is a continuation, rather than an abrupt change, in the modus vivendi. Also his way with the key Romanovs is convincingly appreciative if lightly critical. Boris Godunov was ""something of a genius whose character and luck failed him in the end""; the controversial Alexander III represented a ""last try, a swan song"" for a reactionary aristocracy. The author is particularly susceptible to the abilities and charms of Catherine II and her lusty correspondence with Potemkin, her ""Golden Pheasant."" He enjoys Elizabeth, who brought a gaiety and elan to the Court, although foreign diplomats come to regard her ""transvestite"" masquerades as a ""singular burden."" Mr. Bergamini's round-up does not end with the horrible demise of Nicholas II. Enthusiastically flitting through family trees, he flushes out present day Romanovs in the U.S. and abroad. It is pleasing to report that most of them seem to be prospering and ""Anastasia,"" (the one named Anna Anderson) married a history professor in Virginia. In a subject large as all the Russias, the author manages to clear some ground for Tsarophiles (or phobes) in a popular presentation.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1969
Publisher: Putnam