White Crow: The Life and Times of the Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich Romanov : 1859-1919

White Crow: The Life and Times of the Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich Romanov : 1859-1919

White Crow: The Life and Times of the Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich Romanov : 1859-1919

White Crow: The Life and Times of the Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich Romanov : 1859-1919

Synopsis

The first biography of the Grand Duke, the only intellectual in the Imperial Family, a political liberal who fought tirelessly for reform from within the system.

Excerpt

The Romanov dynasty provided the Russian Empire with its tsars for more than 300 years, and in that capacity, it has been one of the most powerful families in history. Yet blessed with virtually every opportunity, few of its members, including many of those who ruled, left a distinguished mark in history. One of them who did, however, was Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich, the only Romanov who was a true intellectual. A historian, a biologist, and a political reformer who stood for unpopular causes that he felt were just, Grand Duke Nicholas had almost nothing in common with the other members of his clan. Most of his family, and Russian high society as well, considered him a belaia vorona, literally a “white crow,” Russian slang for a “misfit” or “oddball.” Educated people outside Russia would not have considered him so, but to his family, most of whom spent their time and vast wealth pursuing sybaritic pleasures and guarding their considerable privileges, he was always an outsider. Only his immediate siblings understood and admired him for the remarkable person he was: The scholar, the reformer, the defender of human rights, and the champion of a free society.

Biographers tend to make either saints or villains of their subjects, telling tales of great heroes or detestable blackguards. My grand ducal subject was certainly no saint and probably not the most pleasant of people, but I have endeavored to be objective, showing his warts with his merits. The most outstanding and respectable Romanov in the twilight of the . . .

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