Secret Lives of the Tsars: Three Centuries of Autocracy, Debauchery, Betrayal, Murder, and Madness from Romanov Russia by Michael Farquhar
**Thank you to Random House and Netgalley for providing this in exchange for an honest review**
This was a great introduction to the Romanov dynasty. I'm a little embarrassed to admit the only people I already really knew anything about was Catherine the Great and Anastasia. This was a great book to pick up and put down when you had a few spare minutes. Each chapter is sprinkled with really great footnotes. These weren't really needed, but they were great additions. I liked that the author went out of his way to include little bits of information about the people surrounding the Tsars and their families.
This book was a little odd in that the writing changed drastically half way through. I loved the first half of the book. It was exactly what the title promised. These chapters flew by for me. They were filled with humorous (and morbid) tidbits about the early Romanov line. If the whole book had been written this way, it would have been a solid 5 stars. The second half of the book read more like a text book. I still enjoyed most of it, but it took me a lot longer to get through. They were a lot more detailed then the chapters in the first half. While the still focused on the Tsars, the branched out more to include detailed events that happened during the Tsars ruling.
I have only one real complaint about this title. Two sections were too drawn out. First was Catherine the Great. She dominated not only her chapter, but also the chapters belonging to her husband and son. Honestly, I grew bored of her. I really wish the author had left her the main focus of her chapter only. Second was the last few chapters dealing with Nicholas and Alexandra. These last chapters were way too dry and drawn out for my taste. They also left me feeling no sympathy whatsoever for Nicholas and Alexandra. Their children are another story. The children never should have suffered that fate they did.