Cover image for The family romanov Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia.
The family romanov Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia.
Publication Information:
Target Audience:
Grade 5 - Grade 6

MG+/Upper middle grades (6th-12th)


950 L
"Marrying the intimate family portrait of Heiligman's Charles and Emma with the politics and intrigue of Sheinkin's Bomb, Fleming has outdone herself with this riveting work of narrative nonfiction that appeals to the imagination as much as the intellect." --The Horn Book, StarredFrom the acclaimed author of Amelia Lost and The Lincolns comes a heartrending narrative nonfiction page-turner--and a perfect resource for meeting Common Core standards. When Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II, inherited the throne in 1894, he was unprepared to do so. With their four daughters (including Anastasia) and only son, a hemophiliac, Nicholas and his reclusive wife, Alexandra, buried their heads in the sand, living a life of opulence as World War I raged outside their door and political unrest grew into the Russian Revolution.Deftly maneuvering between the lives of the Romanovs and the plight of Russia's peasants and urban workers--and their...
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader Grades 5-8 7.2 12 Quiz 167384 English non-fiction.
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Click to access digital title.


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Internet Site XX(1150545.1) 1

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"[A] superb history.... In these thrilling, highly readable pages, we meet Rasputin, the shaggy, lecherous mystic...; we visit the gilded ballrooms of the doomed aristocracy; and we pause in the sickroom of little Alexei, the hemophiliac heir who, with his parents and four sisters, would be murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918." -- The Wall Street Journal

Here is the tumultuous, heartrending, true story of the Romanovs--at once an intimate portrait of Russia's last royal family and a gripping account of its undoing. Using captivating photos and compelling first person accounts, award-winning author Candace Fleming ( Amelia Lost ; The Lincolns ) deftly maneuvers between the imperial family's extravagant lives and the plight of Russia's poor masses, making this an utterly mesmerizing read as well as a perfect resource for meeting Common Core standards.

"An exhilarating narrative history of a doomed and clueless family and empire." --Jim Murphy, author of Newbery Honor Books An American Plague and The Great Fire

"For readers who regard history as dull, Fleming's extraordinary book is proof positive that, on the contrary, it is endlessly fascinating, absorbing as any novel, and the stuff of an altogether memorable reading experience." -- Booklist, Starred

"Marrying the intimate family portrait of Heiligman's Charles and Emma with the politics and intrigue of Sheinkin's Bomb , Fleming has outdone herself with this riveting work of narrative nonfiction that appeals to the imagination as much as the intellect." -- The Horn Book , Starred

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature
Winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction
A Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
A YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award Finalist
Winner of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

This educational history geared to young adult readers explores the reversals of fortune that attended the Romanov family, from their reign as privileged rulers of 130 million Russians at the turn of the 20th century to their violent deaths at the hands of Bolshevik revolutionaries in 1918. Farr, who is primarily a stage actress, serves as the story's primary narrator and also voices the diary entries and personal vignettes of various Romanov family members. She manages to create sympathy for the insulated family, especially the children, though her voice also expresses appropriate frustration at times when Czar Nicholas either turned a deaf ear to the desperation of his subjects or aggressively countered their complaints with military brutality. Less successful are the audio production's various uncredited "Beyond the Palace Gates" performances, which feature stories from the lives of Russian peasants, WWI soldiers, or other observers. Several anonymous voices perform these parts, lending a disjointed feel to the narrative, and oddly reinforcing the class divisions inherent to the history itself. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Fleming's humanizing nonfiction narrative relates the political and personal lives of Tsar Nicholas II -- the last tsar of imperial Russia -- and his family; their harrowing experiences during the Russian Revolution; and their subsequent arrests and murders. Though Fleming never flinches from Nicholas's and Alexandra's many mistakes in ruling (especially Nicholas's willful ignorance of the people's growing unrest and Alexandra's misplaced trust in Rasputin), she presents the Romanovs and their children as multifaceted individuals. Farr's reading aptly captures the subjects' complex natures as well as the highs (palatial homes, glittering galas) and profound lows (Tsarevich Alexei's hemophilia, the abject poverty of peasants) of the last years of the Romanov dynasty. Alternating with Farr's main narration are contextualizing vignettes of citizens' lives, frequently excerpts of first-person primary sources, performed by several additional readers. katie bircher (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* History comes to vivid life in Fleming's sweeping story of the dramatic decline and fall of the House of Romanov. Her account provides not only intimate portraits of Tsar Nicholas; his wife, Alexandra; and the five Romanov children, but it also offers a beautifully realized examination of the context of their lives Russia in a state of increasing social unrest and turmoil. The latter aspect is shown in part through generous excerpts from letters, diaries, memoirs, and more that are seamlessly interspersed throughout the narrative. All underscore the incredible disparity between the glittering lives of the Romanovs and the desperately impoverished ones of the peasant population. Instead of attempting to reform this, Nicholas simply refused to acknowledge its presence, rousing himself only long enough to order savage repression of the occasional uprising. Fleming shows that the hapless tsar was ill equipped to discharge his duties, increasingly relying on Alexandra for guidance; unfortunately, at the same time, she was increasingly reliant on the counsel of the evil monk Rasputin. The end, when it came, was swift and for the Romanovs, who were brutally murdered terrible. Compulsively readable, Fleming's artful work of narrative history is splendidly researched and documented. For readers who regard history as dull, Fleming's extraordinary book is proof positive that, on the contrary, it is endlessly fascinating, absorbing as any novel, and the stuff of an altogether memorable reading experience.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2010 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

FOR THE PAST 20 years there has been a cassette tape in our car with a title along the lines of "Teach Yourself Morse Code." While not exactly riveting material, this is possibly the first nonfiction audiobook I can remember listening to, and it's a perfect example of why nonfiction works well in the format. The human voice lends life to words on a page. The tonal subtleties of a skilled narrator can captivate listeners with a commitment that readers of the written word must bring to a text on their own. Steve Sheinkin's "The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights" and Candace Fleming's "The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion and the Fall of Imperial Russia" are excellent works in their own right, but both books gain a layer of engagement through vibrant spoken narrations. There is warmth and urgency in the actor Dominic Hoffman's reading of "The Port Chicago 50," the story of a group of African-American sailors who had enlisted in the United States Navy and were court-martialed for mutiny in September 1944. After a disastrous explosion on the job they had refused to load bombs, dangerous work in which their white counterparts were not required to participate. Sheinkin is gifted at making nonfiction read like a fictional account - when he brings in Thurgood Marshall as a seemingly unconnected minor character, the reader knows it makes narrative sense for Marshall to turn up later in an instrumental plot role. The inevitability of the racism in this story is a bitter truth, and time and again, as I listened to "The Port Chicago 50" in the car with my teenage daughter, we had to pause the recording to discuss history and politics both past and current. Simultaneously sharing a story with other readers is a pleasure directly connected to reading aloud. Hoffman's narration of this important and forgotten step forward in the battle for civil rights is superb; never melodramatic or disrespectful, he conveys a range of voices, including an imitation of Franklin Roosevelt that even my British-born daughter recognized. One of the effects of hearing a book read aloud by a disembodied voice is that you can't help feeling that the narrator, as the storyteller, has the authority of the author. The voice I associate with "The Port Chicago 50" is not Sheinkin's: It's Hoffman's. Similarly, the actress Kimberly Farr's voice now feels to me the right one to associate with Candace Fleming's detailed and accessible portrait of the doomed Romanov autocracy in the early 20th century. "The Port Chicago 50" is a man's tale, indeed an African-American man's tale, appropriately and skilfully voiced by an AfricanAmerican man. Farr's warm, straight-shooting, clear-voiced interpretation of "The Family Romanov" breathes immediacy into Fleming's narrative. But is there any reason Fleming's story of political and social turmoil in czarist Russia should be voiced by a white American woman, other than that's what the author is? It's easy to overlook how our expectations for any given narration inform how we receive and interpret the audio recording of a printed book. Fleming's "The Family Romanov" deals gracefully with the meaty history of the Russian Revolution by framing it biographically, as a family portrait. By no means does the focus rest entirely on the Romanovs: Innocuous episodes in the royal family's daily routine are contrasted throughout the book with the documented lives of less fortunate Russian peasants, workers and intellectuals. This turns the book into a pageant of contrasts: The intimate, claustrophobic, obscenely wealthy and often faintly idiotic mind-set of Imperial Russia's royal family is counterbalanced with the broad-thinking, frustrated, poverty-stricken and intellectually challenging mind-set of Russia's lower classes. Farr's confiding narration is both lucid and confident, growing subtly and appropriately grimmer toward the end. I felt that the supporting voices that narrate the sidebars, though adding texture to the overall listening experience, were so heavily accented they were often difficult to understand. BOTH "THE FAMILY ROMANOV" and "The Port Chicago 50" - and probably other nonfiction audiobooks as well - would benefit from a booklet or web link dedicated to the supplementary material left out of the audio editions. As a visual reader and an amateur historian, I longed for the pictures and references included in the printed versions. Sheinkin's book, in particular, is a wholly different experience without its plentiful illustrations (photographs and facsimiles appear on almost every third page of text). I found myself wondering repeatedly, as I listened to Hoffman's moving and masterly narration, where the lengthy direct quotations were coming from. Sheinkin tells you in his source note in the printed version, but not in the audiobook; 20 pages of references are not included in the audio version, and Fleming's missing printed references are even more detailed. Is this a loss to the reader? I want to put the question out there without making a judgment call. The listener should bear in mind that an audiobook isn't a compromise; it's an option. The reading performance exists as an art form in its own right, and adds nuance, accessibility and immediacy to a text. ELIZABETH WEIN is the author, most recently, of "Rose Under Fire" and "Code Name Verity."

School Library Journal Review

Starred Review. Gr 9 Up-Listeners need not have a background in Russian history to enjoy Fleming's account of the dramatic rise and fall of the last Russian royal family. Kimberley Farr, along with a cast of voice actors, reads stories of the opulence in the palace and the destitution-ultimately leading to revolution-in the streets. Differing from most Russian history targeted for this age group (which often feature the Grand Duchess Anastasia as the key or only player), Fleming makes a great effort to go deeper. Addressing everything from the relationship between Alexandra and Rasputin to the vivid description of the sheltered lives of the Romanov children, Fleming's expertly researched account is engaging. While targeted to young adults, this would hold great appeal to adults as well. Farr's narration combined with Fleming's brilliantly researched writing will surely provide sustenance for those seeking meaty, narrative nonfiction.-Mary Medinsky, Red Deer College, Alberta, Canada (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



1881-1895 The Boy Who Would Be Tsar On a frosty March day in 1881, the boy who would become Russia's last ruler glimpsed his future. That morning, Nicholas's grandfather, Tsar Alexander II, was riding through the streets of St. Petersburg when a man stepped off the sidewalk. He hurled a bomb at the imperial carriage. Miraculously, the tsar went uninjured, but many in his retinue were not as lucky. Concerned about his people, Alexander stepped from his carriage. That's when a second bomb was thrown. This one landed between his feet. An explosion of fire and shrapnel tore away Alexander's left leg, ripped open his abdomen, and mangled his face. Barely conscious, he managed one last command: "To the palace, to die there." Horrified members of the imperial family rushed to his side. Thirteen-year-old Nicholas, dressed in a blue sailor suit, followed a thick trail of dark blood up the white marble stairs to his grandfather's study. There he found Alexander lying on a couch, one eye closed, the other staring blankly at the ceiling. Nicholas's father, also named Alexander, was already in the room. "My father took me up to the bed," Nicholas later recalled. " 'Papa,' [my father] said, raising his voice, 'your ray of sunshine is here.' I saw the eyelashes tremble. . . . [Grandfather] moved a finger. He could not raise his hands, nor say what he wanted to, but he undoubtedly recognized me." Deathly pale, Nicholas stood helplessly at the end of the bed as his beloved grandfather took his last breath. "The emperor is dead," announced the court physician. Nicholas's father--now the new tsar--clenched his fists. The Russian people would pay for this. Alexander II had been a reformer, the most liberal tsar in centuries. He'd freed the serfs (peasant slaves) and modernized the courts. But his murder convinced his son, Alexander III, that the people had been treated too softly. If order was to be maintained, they needed to "feel the whip." And for the next thirteen years of his reign, Alexander III made sure they did. Young Nicholas, standing beside his grandfather's deathbed, knew nothing of politics. Frightened, he covered his face with his hands and sobbed bitterly. He was left, he later confessed, with a "presentiment--a secret conviction . . . that I am destined for terrible trials." Excerpted from The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.