Nearly a century after his murder, Rasputin remains as divisive a figure as ever.
Was he really a horse thief and a hard-drinking ruffian in his youth? Was he a a devout Orthodox Christian, or was he in fact a just a fake holy man? Are the stories of his enormous sexual drive, debauchery, and drunken orgies true or simply a myth? How did he come to know the emperor and empress and to wield so much influence over them? What was the source of his healing power? Was Rasputin running the government in the final years of his life?
And if so, was he acting on his own or on the orders of more powerful, hidden forces? Did Prince Yusupov and his fellow conspirators act alone or were they other parties involved in Rasputin’s murder—British secret agents or even an underground cell of Freemasons, as has been claimed? And to what extent did Rasputin’s murder doom the Romanov dynasty? Drawing on major new sources hitherto unexamined by western historians, Douglas Smith’s book is be the definitive biography of this extraordinary figure for a generation.
About the Author
Douglas Smith is an internationally recognized expert in Russian history and the critically acclaimed and award-winning author of numerous articles and three books, including, most recently, Former People (also published by Pan Macmillan).Before becoming a historian, Douglas Smith worked with the U.S. State Department in the Soviet Union and as a Russian affairs analyst for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich.
Douglas Smith has delivered the definitive biography that is brilliantly gripping, as hypnotic, wild and erotic in its revelations as the Mad Monk himself, sensitive in its human portrait, astute in its political analysis, superbly researched with rich new material gathered in faraway archives, and populated with the zaniest cast of the deranged Romanovs, depraved bishops, whores, mountebanks, adventuresses, mystics and murderers. -- Simon Sebag Montefiore The most comprehensive account of Rasputin to date, brimming with complexities and fascinating detail, and stands as an enlightening re-evaluation of this crucial figure in Russian history. Daily Telegraph Douglas Smith begins this impressive biography by rubbishing almost everything previously written, stripping away a century of myth, fabrication, gossip and lies ... a fascinating, often entertaining, biography. The Times Utterly fascinating and foreniscally detailed ...There are plenty of Rasputin biographies already, but its superlative scholarship and attention to detail put this one in a class of its own. -- Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times This brilliantly written, meticulously researched account of the life of Rasputin is the best, most complete and accurate I have ever read. Step by step, day by day, week by week in this life, Douglas Smith tells the story from its humble beginnings, through its obscene sexual chapters, to its violent end. He describes how a peasant became 'Our Friend' to the last emperor and empress of Russia. He explains why this dependency came at terrible cost for the imperial couple, for their children, for Russia, and for the Twentieth Century world. Readers will begin by saying that this is an impossible story to believe. They will read on because, in Douglas Smith's mesmerizing telling, it must be believed. And because it did happen. -- Robert K. Massie, author of Nicholas and Alexandra Some years ago when working on a historical novel I had to read all the existing Rasputin biographies, and they do abound - in all literary styles and in many languages. What a pity that Douglas Smith's Rasputin had not yet been published, it would have saved me a lot of time. If you are interested in the story of the Romanovs' pet prophet this is the book to read. -- Boris Akunin A prodigious piece of scholarship. Doug Smith's exhaustive and forensic examination of a wealth of new and previously unseen evidence finally lays to rest the tired old myth of 'the mad monk' and rightly positions Rasputin as a crucial figure in late Imperial Russian history. -- Helen Rappaport, author of Four Sisters Douglas Smith understands that history is not only what happened, but what people think happened. In Rasputin, he deftly unpicks myth, legend and fact, separating and examining each thread, before weaving them back to create a pattern not merely of a man, but of a time, and a place, and a revolution. It is, itself, revolutionary. -- Judith Flanders, author of A Circle of Sisters Few figures in 20th century history have been more obscured by myth and legend than Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin, the mystic confident of the last tsar and tsarina. In his research, comprehensive to the nth degree, Douglas Smith has dug up previously unseen archives, followed previously unexplored leads, and connected the dots across the Russian landscape. They're dots of blood. Rasputin reveals the true character of the man without minimizing his malign hold on the loathsome, feckless Romanovs. -- Ken Kalfus, author of The Commissariat of Enlightenment The very best biographies illuminate an individual and the time and place in which they lived. In this magisterial, exhaustively-researched work on Rasputin, Douglas Smith paints a rich, detailed portrait of one of history's most fascinating individuals while also chronicling the dramatic last days of the Tsar. It's a wondrous read. -- Neal Bascomb, author of The Winter Fortress It is hard to imagine a historical figure more barnacled with myth than Rasputin. Douglas Smith unravels Rasputin's complex narrative in unprecedented detail, showing how he was a kind of chimera onto which could be hung all the ills of a disintegrating Russia. In the process Smith vividly exposes the astonishing blindness of the ruling class that made its tragic end inevitable. A brilliant achievement. -- Rosemary Sullivan, author of Stalin's Daughter The most complete and masterful study of Rasputin that I've read. Douglas Smith's work is not only extraordinarily readable, but rich in detail. -- Robert Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen Boy