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Pulitzer Prizewinning author Massie, whose 1967 Nicholas and Alexandra received high praise, has used new documents on the assassination of the Romanovs to write a sequel that is almost as much thriller as historical account. Beginning with the assassination in the basement of the house in which the royal family had been imprisoned in Ekaterinburg, Massie traces the early, covert efforts, mainly by geologist Alexander Avdonin, to find the bodies. In 1979, Avdonin and Moscow television producer Geli Ryabov used an account of the execution given them by the son of the executioner to find the grave site and exhumed the bodies. In 1989, news of this discovery set off a scramble among the local authorities, Moscow, and competing groups of forensic analysts in the West to study the remains of the Romanovs. These efforts led to the identification of the bodies of Tsarina Alexandra and three of the four daughters, with disagreement as to whether Marie or Anastasia was the missing daughter. The identity of the tsar himself was complicated by an unusual genetic anomaly that could have been caused by contamination. The results were also contested by ÇmigrÇ groups abroad, who suspected a KGB hoax, and were entangled by disputes as to the missing members of the family. One of the most fascinating parts of Massie's story is his account of the controversy surrounding ``Anna Anderson,'' acknowledged by many of the Romanovs as Anastasia, but proved in recent DNA testing to have been ``an impostor with astonishing physical similarities'' to the dead princess. Finally, Massie deals with the bitter squabble among surviving members of the family about ``who is and is not qualified to claim a nonexistent throne.'' (For more on the assassination, see Mark D. Steinberg and Vladimir M. Khrustalâv, The Fall of the Romanovs, p. 1264.) With memorable sketches of the main participants and a skillful discussion of the scientific evidence, Massie pulls together a sprawling theme and infuses it with quiet drama. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-394-58048-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1995

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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