Next book

ALIX AND NICKY

THE PASSION OF THE LAST TSAR AND TSARINA

The intimate correspondence between Nicholas and Alexandra exposes the political naiveté of the ill-fated Romanovs while revealing their deep, loving relationship.

The late 19th century witnessed a spate of assassinations in Russia, which caused the royals to avoid appearing in public unless absolutely necessary. Nicholas avoided confrontation by quietly listening, nodding and smiling, while completely ignoring the advice of his counselors. In an attempt to understand his strange lack of action and/or reaction and to confirm her perception of him, Rounding (Catherine the Great, 2007, etc.) participated in several online personality tests in the guise of Nicholas. Alexandra most likely suffered from Porphyria, and her paranoia, depression and hysteria, as well as the physical symptoms that kept her in bed, separated her not only from her people but also from her own family. Communications, even with her children, were in little notes exchanged almost on a daily basis exhorting them to better themselves and not to upset her. Rounding’s story is built on the letters, especially those between the czar and czarina throughout their marriage. The letters leave no doubt that the two loved each other very much, even to the point of lightly disguised sexual references in their correspondence. The author does not provide an explanation of how Philippe Vachot and his successor, Rasputin, managed to work their way into the family, and the connection of Alix’s dearest friend, Ania Vyrubova, is also indeterminate. The implication is that Ania fancied herself madly in love with the czar, even writing long love letters (destroyed upon receipt) to him. Ania became extremely close to the couple and managed to control them with her constant demands. References to Ania, Philippe and, especially, Rasputin give an indication of how much her “friends” influenced Alix. Rasputin was treated as a godlike seer, influencing even the conduct of World War I battles.  The author’s strong background in Russian history and meticulous research establish her as an excellent biographer, although taking the personality tests in the guise of the Czar could be construed as somewhat presumptive.  

 

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-38100-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

Next book

INTO THE WILD

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

Next book

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview