The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world's surface. How did one family turn a war-ruined principality into the world's greatest empire? And how did they lose it all?
This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. Montefiore's gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance, and peopled by a cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries and poets, from Ivan the Terrible to Tolstoy, from Queen Victoria to Lenin.
How did this small, remote town become the Holy City, the ‘centre of the world’ and now the key to peace in the Middle East? In a dazzling narrative, Simon Sebag Montefiore reveals this ever-changing city in its many incarnations, bringing every epoch and character blazingly to life. Jerusalem’s biography is told through the wars, love affairs and revelations of the men and women – kings, empresses, prophets, poets, saints, conquerors and whores – who created, destroyed, chronicled and believed in Jerusalem. As well as the many ordinary Jerusalemites who have left their mark on the city, its cast varies from Solomon, Saladin and Suleiman the Magnificent to Cleopatra, Caligula and Churchill; from Abraham to Jesus and Muhammad; from the ancient city of Jezebel, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod and Nero to the modern times of the Kaiser, Disraeli, Mark Twain, Rasputin and Lawrence of Arabia.
Stalin, like Hitler, remains the very personification of evil but also one of the creators of today's world. Now in an enthralling biography that reads like a thriller, Simon Sebag Montefiore unveils the shadowy, adventurous journey of the Georgian cobbler's son who became the Red Tsar.
Who was the boy from Georgia who rose to rule the Empire of the Tsars? Who were his Himmler, Göring, Goebbels? How did the 'top ten' families live? In this history of Stalin's imperial court – a Sunday Times bestseller, and winner of History Book of the Year 2004 – the fear betrayal, privilege and debauchery, family life and murderous brutality are brought blazingly to life.
Elton John and Mick Jagger used it for their Christmas presents, according to Evening Standard magazine, whilst President George W. Bush used it to brief himself on Russian history for his first meeting with President Putin.
It is history's greatest romance. Catherine the Great was a woman of notorious passion, political brilliance and fascinating charm. Prince Potemkin – wildly flamboyant and sublimely talented – was the love of her life, secret husband and political partner. Their sexual and political affair was so tumultuous, they negotiated an arrangement to share power, leaving Potemkin to love his beautiful nieces, and Catherine, her favourites. But these 'twin souls' never stopped loving each other.
Using their intimate letters, Montefiore brings to life this partnership of love, sex and power, restoring Catherine and Potemkin to their rightful place as titans of their age – and timeless lovers.
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