A hundred years after his murder, Rasputin continues to excite the popular imagination as the personification of evil. The spectre of the lustful Siberian holy man and peasant still casts its eerie shadow over Russia's bloody twentieth century. Numerous biographies, novels, and films recount his mysterious rise to power as Nicholas and Alexandra's confidant and guardian of the sickly heir to the throne. His debauchery and sinister political influence are the stuff of legend, and the downfall of the Romanov dynasty was laid at his feet. Even during his lifetime Rasputin was shrouded in myth and his true story remains obscure today. Douglas Smith's Rasputin separates fact from fiction to reveal the true life of one of history's most alluring figures. Rasputin draws on a wealth of forgotten documents from archives in seven countries and is the most thoroughly researched biography ever written. Demolishing the caricature of the holy devil, Smith's account presents Rasputin in all his complexity - man of God, voice of peace, loyal subject, adulterer, drunkard.
More than just the story of an extraordinary life, Rasputin offers a fascinating portrait of the twilight of Imperial Russia as it lurched towards catastrophe.
From the acclaimed author of Former People, a definitive biography of Rasputin, published to coincide with the centenary of his murder.
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 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 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 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
Douglas Smith is an internationally recognized expert in Russian history and critically acclaimed author of several books, including the award-winning bestseller Former People (also published by Pan Macmillan). Before becoming a historian, Douglas Smith worked with the US State Department in the Soviet Union and as a Russian affairs analyst for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich. He lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.