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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1995

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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