The author has chosen to concentrate on the last months of the doomed family's lives, but she encapsulates their prior lives, and the events which led to the downfall of the dynasty, swiftly and fluently. Along the way, she explodes the myth that the Tsar, Tsaritsa and their children lived in bliss, like a Russian version of the Waltons. In truth, Alexandra remained a domineering complainer, and the children, fundamentally devoted to one another though they were, experienced the normal sibling squabbles. One daughter, Maria, got herself into a "compromising position" with one of the guards--not an unexpected circumstance for a healthy, hormonal young girl deprived of normal contact with others her own age. The Romanov captors worried about the approach of monarchist forces, intent on rescue, and the Czech army. With these pressures and mixed bureacratic signals from Moscow, the captors had their hands full.The slapstick bumbling of the drunken executioners made the final event an even worse slaughter than it had to be. Subsequent events, some as recently as the 1990's, have seen the Romanovs canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church--perhaps an acknowledgement of the family's intense religious faith.
Readers who are beginning to follow the Romanov saga need to read other books first, but Russian history enthusiasts should look at this concise but informative book by a writer with a smooth style and an ability to fold facts and research into an engaging narrative.