The best books about Rasputin and his Russian queen

Why am I passionate about this?

I can’t explain the fascination with Rasputin, but one hears the name so frequently via the Boney M pop song, so I took that as the inspiration - and the title - of my book. I saw a book about him in Waterstones one day and had to pick it up, even though it was so big it might’ve doubled as a doorstop. But from then I was hooked; I read everything I could, watched more, and researched until I actually went to Russia. And then I research some more!


I wrote...

Rasputin and his Russian Queen: The True Story of Grigory and Alexandra

By Mickey Mayhew,

Book cover of Rasputin and his Russian Queen: The True Story of Grigory and Alexandra

What is my book about?

Rasputin’s relationship with Russia’s last Tsarina, Alexandra, notorious from the famous Boney M song, has never been adequately addressed; biographies are always for one or the other. In this new work, Mickey Mayhew reimagines Alexandra for the #MeToo generation: ‘neurotic’; ‘hysterical’; ‘credulous’ and ‘fanatical’ are shunted aside in favor of a sympathetic reimagining of a reserved and pious woman tossed into the heart of Russian aristocracy. Some say that between them, Grigori and Alexandra brought down 300 years of Romanov rule and ushered in the Russian Revolution, but theirs was simply the story of a mother fighting for the health of her son against a backdrop of bigotry, sexism, and increasing secularism. 

This is the real story of Rasputin and his Russian queen, Alexandra.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs

Mickey Mayhew Why did I love this book?

This was the book that inspired me to visit Russia, while researching Rasputin and the Romanovs, and then to write my own take on the relationship between Rasputin and Alexandra.

It’s a great book but hard-going for a novice, but I like to dive in at the deep end.

By Douglas Smith,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Rasputin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the centenary of the death of Rasputin comes a definitive biography that will dramatically change our understanding of this fascinating figure

A hundred years after his murder, Rasputin continues to excite the popular imagination as the personification of evil. Numerous biographies, novels, and films recount his mysterious rise to power as Nicholas and Alexandra's confidant and the guardian of the sickly heir to the Russian throne. His debauchery and sinister political influence are the stuff of legend, and the downfall of the Romanov dynasty was laid at his feet.

But as the prizewinning historian Douglas Smith shows, the true…


Book cover of Alexandra: The Last Tsarina

Mickey Mayhew Why did I love this book?

This one read more like a novel than a historical work, which I what I went for - partially - when writing my own work on the subject.

Also, it’s one of the few books sympathetic to Alexandra and doesn’t descend to calling her ‘neurotic’, ‘hysterical’, or any other such slurs designed to denigrate women.

By Carolly Erickson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alexandra as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Taking advantage of material unavailable until the fall of the Soviet Union, this biography of Alexandra, the last tsarina, explores: her childhood bereavement; her long struggle to attain her romantic goal of marriage to Nicholas; the anguish of her pathological shyness; the struggles with her in-laws; a false pregnancy; her increasing eccentricities as she became more preoccupied with matters of faith; and her growing dependence on a series of occult mentors, the most notorious of whom was Rasputin.


Book cover of Nicholas and Alexandra

Mickey Mayhew Why did I love this book?

An undoubted classic and one of the first books - if not the first - to treat the subject of Nicholas and Alexandra and their son Alexei’s hemophilia with a little sympathy.

Massie had a hemophiliac son but his regard for Rasputin as Alexei’s healer still leaves something to be desired.

By Robert K. Massie,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Nicholas and Alexandra as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A superbly crafted and humane portrait of the last days - and last rulers - of the Russian Empire.

Complementing his Pulitzer prize-winning Peter the Great, in this commanding book Robert K. Massie sweeps readers back to the extraordinary world of imperial Russia to tell the story of the decline and fall of the ruling Romanov family: Tsar Nicholas II's political naivete; his wife Alexandra's obsession with the corrupt mystic Rasputin; and their son Alexis's battle with haemophilia.

Against a lavish backdrop of luxury and intrigue, Massie unfolds a family tragedy played out on the brutal stage of early twentieth-century…


Book cover of Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina

Mickey Mayhew Why did I love this book?

A great overview of the relationship between the tsar and his wife, if not entirely sympathetic all of the time; still, she’s a wonderful writer - and yes she provided the foreword for my book so I am biased!

It also contains many nuggets and tidbits overlooked in various of the other works I mention.

By Virginia Rounding,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alix and Nicky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Few characters in history are as fascinating or controversial as Nicholas and Alexandra. From their passionate love to their horrifying execution, they are alternately viewed as innocent victims of Bolshevik assassins or blamed for causing the Revolution themselves. Much has already been written about their lives. But acting as a curator of the many conflicting histories, acclaimed author Virginia Rounding offers a different kind of biography, with an intimate look that probes the souls of these unforgettable figures, and tells the story of their passion and its consequences for Russia. Through newly revealed letters and diaries, Rounding explores the Empress'…


Book cover of The Romanovs: 1613-1918

Mickey Mayhew Why did I love this book?

A very helpful man and a very helpful book when it comes to a comprehensive overview of the Romanov regime and epoch as a whole.

Although it is rather an immense tome and thus perhaps not as accessible for a novice as some of the others I have recommended.

Again, unfortunately, Alexandra is not portrayed particularly sympathetically. 

By Simon Sebag Montefiore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Romanovs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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. Written with…


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Book cover of Liddy-Jean Marketing Queen and the Matchmaking Scheme

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What is my book about?

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