ALEXANDER III: HIS LIFE AND REIGN
A New Biography by Margarita Nelipa
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Margaritaís new book Alexander III, His Life and Reign is the first comprehensive biography in English about this little known and unjustly neglected Russian Emperor. Her work is the only publication to explore Alexanderís childhood, his life as a Grand Duke and then as the Tsesarevich (Heir) years before he became the Emperor of Russia following his father, Alexander IIís assassination in 1881. The only other biography in English appeared almost 120 years ago and has the shortcoming of being published before Alexander IIIís death.
As with her Rasputin book, the author began this project without pre-conceived ideas about her subject. This book provides a comprehensive examination of the interconnecting social and political issues from the reigns of Nikolai I (his grandfather), Alexander II (his father) and lastly unfolds with that of Alexander III himself. Together the components of this book offer new insights about the nature of the monarchic government in Russia during the latter part of the 19th century. The book is also a poignant story about a down-to-earth and dutiful man who honored the memory of his deceased brother and mother and deeply loved his family life.
Adding to the unique quality of this book, Nelipa once again relies on Russian primary sources which include diaries, letters, courtroom documents as well as memoirs and newspapers of the day all translated by the author and which have never been previously brought together. Extensive annotations, several appendices and a comprehensive index add rigor to this work.
Alexander III ruled between two turbulent and tragic periods in Russian history Ė the reigns of Alexander II and Nikolai II. Her book begins by revealing Alexanderís fondness for his grandfather Nikolai I, and then discusses the caring relationship with his older brother and heir, Tsesarevich Nikolai Alexandrovich, which takes in the harrowing details that surrounded Niksaís dying days and how it affected Alexander and also his mother, the Empress Mariya Alexandrovna. From letters and diary excerpts, we discover why Alexander wanted at first to give up his newly acquired right to the throne. Nelipa also sheds new light about Alexanderís early relationship with and subsequent marriage to a Danish princess and upon the subject of his younger brother Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovichís marriage. Using excerpts from an assortment of letters, Alexanderís war service during the Russo-Turkish War is revealed before the discussion turns to the nucleus of this section of her book Ė terrorism in Russia and Alexander IIís assassination. Never before has an author discussed how Alexander IIís death had impacted on the Romanov family using political and social scenarios.
Readers may be surprised to learn that Alexander IIIís coronation was conducted under the fear of terrorism and that citizens were killed in the Khodynskoe field (just as they would be at his sonís Coronation). This key ceremony during Alexander IIIís reign forms the central component of the book, which is rich in details and illustrations that first appeared in the official Coronation Album.
The narrative then changes its tenor by discussing Alexander IIIís work as a sovereign who had deliberately reversed all of his fatherís reforms. The reason Alexander III took this approach goes to the core of why he became a conservative rather than a progressive monarch. The ramifications that flowed from his decisions feature strongly in the third part of this book. The key figures who had influenced Alexanderís way of thinking weave throughout this book. In addition, Nelipa details several of his domestic policy changes. Some like the censorship and ĎMay Lawsí, were divisive while other laws benefited the nation by lifting the levels of literacy. We also find that Alexander III was far-sighted in that he facilitated the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Throughout this work we come to appreciate Nelipaís medical science and legal training because she provides remarkable details about the court process that Alexander III had sought against his fatherís assassins and likewise she offers details about the legal case that followed the Borki train accident, which in the authorís opinion led to Alexander IIIís terminal illness. Using excerpts sourced from medical notes that were left by a number of Alexander IIIís physicians we closely follow the sovereignís final days of life. The autopsy report that was sourced from a file held in the Russian Archives reveals new light on Alexander IIIís cause of death.
This book spans more than 600 pages and is complimented with about 250 photographs, many of which have never been published in the West. Margarita Nelipaís book will not only captivate as a portrait of a complex human being but it will introduce readers to a Russian Emperor who successfully fought against and suppressed terrorism during his reign but may have sown the seeds of the downfall of his dynasty.
Alexander III: His Life and Reign is scheduled for publication in late January 2014. Margarita Nelipa is currently working on her third book, about the life of the Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolayevich. The publication date for her new book will be announced at a later date.
Source & Copyright: Gilbert's Books