Week 13, The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia

Week 13, The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

Fleming, C. (2014). The family Romanov: Murder, rebellion & the fall of imperial Russia. New York, NY: Random House.

Summary:  

This book is an in-depth historical look at Russian royalty known as the Romanov family.

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Some pictures from Part III: The Storm Breaks

This book is an informational text laid out in four chronological sections. The first section is an account of the Romanov family and an in-depth look at who they were.  The reader learns about Nicholas as a child, his romance with Alix of Hesse, their hastily-planned marriage, and the sickly, incurable heir. The second section of this book follows history from the revolution from the workers’ strikes to Lenin’s rise of power in 1917. In this section, the reader can truly feel the blatant discrepancy between the secluded Romanovs and the rest of Russia and its people as they experience overwhelming economic conditions. The third section of this book continues to look at the economic conditions as World War I breaks. This section includes personal stories of the people who largely affected the Romanov family as they searched for a better life. The fourth and final section of this book looks at the takeover by Lenin and how clueless and in denial the Romanov family was during this time as they were moved from place to place. To finish, the book concludes with information about the mysterious disappearance of the once royal family and the eventual DNA findings that occurred.

 

Keywords: informational text; royalty; peasants; Russia; rise and fall

What I Think:

 

I’ll start by being frank that this topic was not the best choice of mine. As I began reading, I realized the topic of this book was not something that engaged me or motivated me to read. However, I was still able to get through the book and learn a lot about early Russia! Even though this particular topic wasn’t of interest to me, it was a very in-depth, structured informational text. I would consider it a strong text to have in the classroom.

This book was in-depth as it went through a whole lot of information that one would need if doing research about the family. The book took the reader all the way from the beginning with Nicholas’ childhood, all the way to controversy of the body of potentially Anastasia or Marie (Fleming, 2014, p. 250). The author even included different perspectives from peasants in sections called “Beyond the Palace Gates”. For example, one of these sections was a disturbing account of the life of a young, working girl and how she was exploited for her looks and paid poorly (p. 96). This book truly gave a lot of detail and information about this story that would provide someone with a sufficient amount of research on this topic.  I also liked this book for it’s organized structure. There are four clear sections in chronological order that make it easy for one to use the book as research. After reading the book, it would be easy to go back to a section in search of information because of its structure. For this reason, it is a strong example of an informational text and a good one for the classroom!

What the Experts Think:

Fleming examines the family at the center of two of the early 20th century’s defining events.It’s an astounding and complex story, and Fleming lays it neatly out for readers unfamiliar with the context. Czar Nicholas II was ill-prepared in experience and temperament to step into his legendary father’s footsteps. Nicholas’ beloved wife (and granddaughter of Queen Victoria), Alexandra, was socially insecure, becoming increasingly so as she gave birth to four daughters in a country that required a male heir. When Alexei was born with hemophilia, the desperate monarchs hid his condition and turned to the disruptive, self-proclaimed holy man Rasputin. Excerpts from contemporary accounts make it clear how years of oppression and deprivation made the population ripe for revolutionary fervor, while a costly war took its toll on a poorly trained and ill-equipped military. The secretive deaths and burials of the Romanovs fed rumors and speculation for decades until modern technology and new information solved the mysteries. Award-winning author Fleming crafts an exciting narrative from this complicated history and its intriguing personalities. It is full of rich details about the Romanovs, insights into figures such as Vladimir Lenin and firsthand accounts from ordinary Russians affected by the tumultuous events. A variety of photographs adds a solid visual dimension, while the meticulous research supports but never upstages the tale.A remarkable human story, told with clarity and confidence. (bibliography, Web resources, source notes, picture credits, index) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)

The Family Romanov. (2014). Kirkus Reviews, LXXXII(11)
Classroom Recommendations:
In the classroom, I would love to have my students complete a research project revolving around an informational text. I would allow my students to choose their text based on their interests, but would encourage at least one to choose this text, The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia. Once students chose their text, I would provide time for them to read and get a good grasp of the topic. Next, I would have the students come up with at least five talking points that would be important to teach when talking about this topic. The students will use these generated questions to complete additional research and then finally share the information learned with the rest of the class. So, for example, the students would use information from the text as well as additional research to present five important points about the chosen topic. This information could be shared in many ways, including a powerpoint, video, song or cartoon. Overall, this project would allow for students to choose a topic of interest to them, read about the topic, conduct further research, and present the learned information in a creative way.
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