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The first half of this book pieces together a credible story of what actually happened to the Romanov family and of how their remains were finally discovered after team after team of scientists, amateur archeologists, the KGB and just plain adventurers looking for their 15 minutes of fame spent fortunes and sometimes lifetimes searching for them.
It then goes on to describe the sickening in-fighting between teams of scientists and politicians from any country or region with even the most tenuous claim to have an interest in them fought over the bones. It was pretty disgusting and I was amazed how people with so much education could stoop so low. The few scientists who did have integrity were almost buried in the avalanche of mud and had to fight tooth and nail to protect their reputations. As I said, disgusting.
The second half of the book was pretty much devoted to Anna Anderson, the Polish peasant woman who was able to perpetrate such a long running and fairly creditable hoax for so long. I Her story was very good though and I guess it must be pretty easy to convince people who really want to be convinced of almost anything.
At the time this book was written the bones of the Romanov family were still laying in a morgue in Moscow while the Government fights over where and how to bury them. Sad!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
This book covers the execution of the Romanovs, the discovery of the real burial site, the extended and contentious process of verifying the identity of the remains, the various Romanov impostors (notably Anna Anderson), and the issues involving the theoretical succession of the czarship among the actual surviving royals. It's an account of what occurs in the wake and backwaters of history after the important historical forces have steamed past.
There are some solid accounts of fascinating historical detective work. There are also extensive descriptions of the disputes and squabbles amongst impassioned and eccentric characters about matters that seem to be of purely symbolic or parochial significance. Who has jurisdiction over the Romanov bones? How should the Anna Anderson samples be DNA tested? Who is properly in line for the nonexistent throne of Russia?
A little of this is fascinating, but more can feel like painful overkill, and I experienced both listening to the book. Stretches feel like being trapped in the middle seat on an airplane with bitterly opposed monomaniacs on either side, grinding their axes and splitting hairs that only they know or care about.
But if you can let those stretches pass, the book is a interesting, if rather slight and peripheral, gloss on russian history and culture.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful