A 15 Minute Trip Around the World via the Internet

A latrine shaped like a chariot from the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. Image from Pinterest

A latrine shaped like a chariot from the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. Image from Pinterest

Weekly Web Links:

Historical Book Review for the Week:

Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie

Nicholas and Alexandra

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that the fall of the last of the Romanovs has always been a fascinating area of history for me; you’ve got the setting of a fantastic, glittering, imperial existence combined with the appearance of a religious figure who, even all these years on, is still surrounded by mystery, legends, and half-truths. Despite at least the very basics of this story being known by most people living in western countries today, in this book, Robert K. Massie, actually manages to produce new viewpoints while telling a story that most of the readers will be familiar with which is no simple task.  The discussion of the tsar and empress’ inability to share the nature of the Tsesarevich’s illness with the country due to the risk of making the future of their dynasty appear unstable is particularly devastating in hindsight. Had they shared this information it is very likely that it would have connected them to their subjects in a way which may have ended up saving their lives (if not their position – I’m not sure that anything could have helped them there).  The other thing that Massie does really well with this account is highlight what is quite often the most frustrating part of reading history. Personally, I spent close to 75% of this book shouting at these people in my head (and maybe, once or twice, out loud); how could they possibly thing everything was alright with their country and their reign? Rebellions and riots were happening with a truly amazing amount of frequency! How did they not see this coming? Which, I think, leads nicely into my final opinion of this book: all of those starlets and celebrities (take your pick; I’m visualizing Bieber)  today who keep doing stupid things and thinking that they can get away with it because they’re  famous need to read this book. This is the (granted extreme) result of what happens when you delude yourself by only allowing people who validate you into your presence.

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