Home / A&E / Books / Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), by Douglas Smith

Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), by Douglas Smith

Dec. 6, 2016
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Rasputin was one of the 20th century’s most infamous and least understood figures. Douglas Smith went where biographers have seldom gone—deep into the Russian archives—and found a trove of illumination. Rasputin became a regular visitor at the court of Nicholas and Alexandra in the last years of czardom and was blamed at the time by all parties for his malign influence. Smith shows that he was scapegoated both by Russia’s political class and its news media, which was more interested in gossip than fact. The Rasputin who emerges from Smith’s research was spiritual yet hedonistic, apparently possessing hypnotic powers and calling for justice for the poor and oppressed. He had the ear of the tsar, yet his influence was limited. Rasputin’s murder at the hands of Russian aristocrats did nothing to halt the country’s collapse into catastrophe. 

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