100 books like Rasputin

By Douglas Smith,

Here are 100 books that Rasputin fans have personally recommended if you like Rasputin. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?

David Satter Author Of The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep: Russia's Road to Terror and Dictatorship Under Yeltsin and Putin

From my list on contemporary Russia.

Why am I passionate about this?

David Satter is a leading commentator on Russia and the former Soviet Union. He is the author of five books on Russia and the creator of a documentary film on the fall of the U.S.S.R. He is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. He has been a fellow of the Foreign Policy Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a senior fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, and an associate of the Henry Jackson Society in London.

David's book list on contemporary Russia

David Satter Why did David love this book?

The late Karen Dawisha offers the best account so far of Putin's early career and the connections and corruption that paved his path to power. Her historical examples of Putin's greed and connections with organized crime shed important light on the way Russia is ruled today.

By Karen Dawisha,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Putin's Kleptocracy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The raging question in the world today is who is the real Vladimir Putin and what are his intentions. Karen Dawisha’s brilliant Putin’s Kleptocracy provides an answer, describing how Putin got to power, the cabal he brought with him, the billions they have looted, and his plan to restore the Greater Russia.

Russian scholar Dawisha describes and exposes the origins of Putin’s kleptocratic regime. She presents extensive new evidence about the Putin circle’s use of public positions for personal gain even before Putin became president in 2000. She documents the establishment of Bank Rossiya, now sanctioned by the US; the…


Book cover of Mirror of the Soul: A Life of the Poet Fyodor Tyutchev

Donald Rayfield Author Of Stalin and His Hangmen: The Tyrant and Those Who Killed for Him

From my list on Russia and the USSR.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since adolescence, I have been fascinated by Slavonic languages, literature, cultures, and history, and by what can be retrieved from archives all over Eastern Europe. And because so much has been suppressed or distorted in everything from biographies of writers to atrocities by totalitarian governments, there has been much to expose and write about. Studying at Cambridge in the 1960s gave me an opportunity to learn everything from Lithuanian to Slovak: I have been able to write histories of Stalin and of Georgia, biographies of Russians such as Chekhov, Suvorin, and Przhevalsky, and the field is still fresh and open for future work.

Donald's book list on Russia and the USSR

Donald Rayfield Why did Donald love this book?

The most compelling aspect of Mirror of the Soul is its analysis of the great poet Tyutchev’s bi-polar temperament and compulsive philandering. He was a forgivable Don Juan, in that he deeply empathized with his victims, although his misbehaviour shortened the lives of his first wife and of his most infatuated mistress. Morbidly irresponsible, he impregnated at least two mistresses and both his wives before marriage. Joy was for Tyutchev a thin veneer of light over misery and darkness; deaths of those close to him and contrition (if not guilt) finally reconciled him, in a death-bed poem, with a “punitive God” who removes everything — “breath, willpower, sleep” — leaving just an aggrieved, loving wife as his intermediary. Mirror of the Soul is beautifully written and edited. It will be, for a long time, the standard work on Tyutchev, doubtless in Russia, too.

Book cover of Stalin's Nemesis: The Exile and Murder of Leon Trotsky

Donald Rayfield Author Of Stalin and His Hangmen: The Tyrant and Those Who Killed for Him

From my list on Russia and the USSR.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since adolescence, I have been fascinated by Slavonic languages, literature, cultures, and history, and by what can be retrieved from archives all over Eastern Europe. And because so much has been suppressed or distorted in everything from biographies of writers to atrocities by totalitarian governments, there has been much to expose and write about. Studying at Cambridge in the 1960s gave me an opportunity to learn everything from Lithuanian to Slovak: I have been able to write histories of Stalin and of Georgia, biographies of Russians such as Chekhov, Suvorin, and Przhevalsky, and the field is still fresh and open for future work.

Donald's book list on Russia and the USSR

Donald Rayfield Why did Donald love this book?

Patenaude focuses just on the Mexican period, from January 1937 to August 1940, of Trotsky’s exile, although the previous stages of his exile — Kazakhstan in 1928, then Turkey for four years, France for another three, followed by interment in Norway — are dealt with in a series of flashbacks. In fact, the whole book is written as if Trotsky in Coyoacán were recalling his past, from his prosperous farmer’s boyhood to his underground militancy, his Civil War military brilliance, and his blundering incompetence as a Bolshevik power-broker. The danger that Patenaude flirts with is to let Trotsky’s charisma and undoubted genius charm him into overlooking his subject’s monstrous indifference to the suffering and deaths of others, sometimes even of those close to him, as well as his overweening conceit.

By dealing with the last phase of the tragedy, nemesis, Trotsky is seen to pay in fear, resignation, failure, and…

By Bertrand M. Patenaude,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stalin's Nemesis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Leon Trotsky was the charismatic intellectual of the Russian Revolution, a brilliant writer and orator who was also an authoritarian organizer. He might have succeeded Lenin and become the ruler of the Soviet Union. But by the time the Second World War broke out he was in exile, living in Mexico in a villa borrowed from the great artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, guarded only by several naive young Americans in awe of the great theoretician. The household was awash with emotional turmoil - tensions grew between Trotsky and Rivera, as questions arose over his relations with Frida Kahlo.…


Book cover of Kvachi

Donald Rayfield Author Of Stalin and His Hangmen: The Tyrant and Those Who Killed for Him

From my list on Russia and the USSR.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since adolescence, I have been fascinated by Slavonic languages, literature, cultures, and history, and by what can be retrieved from archives all over Eastern Europe. And because so much has been suppressed or distorted in everything from biographies of writers to atrocities by totalitarian governments, there has been much to expose and write about. Studying at Cambridge in the 1960s gave me an opportunity to learn everything from Lithuanian to Slovak: I have been able to write histories of Stalin and of Georgia, biographies of Russians such as Chekhov, Suvorin, and Przhevalsky, and the field is still fresh and open for future work.

Donald's book list on Russia and the USSR

Donald Rayfield Why did Donald love this book?

Like Felix Krull, or Jonathan Wild, this is the story of a con-man, murderer, traitor, somehow redeemed by his charm and incidents of bravery The novel is at its best when Javakhishvili starts to describe Kvachi’s experiences with the Russians during the Revolution, the civil war and the early years of the Soviet state; it becomes clear that what has seemed a send-up of morality and a celebration of the picaresque is in fact equally valid as a cold assessment of revolutionary realpolitik. This is a wonderful novel, subtle and extravagant at the same time, seeming to fly by the seat of its pants but in fact consistently aware of exactly how to tread the line between structure and improvisation. It is extremely generous, bursting out of what appear to be its narrow confines to give us far more than we initially expected.

By Donald Rayfield, Mikheil Javakhishvili,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is, in brief, the story of a swindler, a Georgian Felix Krull, or perhaps a cynical Don Quixote, named Kvachi Kvachantiradze: womanizer, cheat, perpetrator of insurance fraud, bank-robber, associate of Rasputin, filmmaker, revolutionary, and pimp. Though originally denounced as pornographic, Kvachi's tale is one of the great classics of twentieth-century Georgian literature--and a hilarious romp to boot.


Book cover of Nicholas and Alexandra

Mickey Mayhew Author Of Rasputin and his Russian Queen: The True Story of Grigory and Alexandra

From my list on 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!

Mickey's book list on Rasputin and his Russian queen

Mickey Mayhew Why did Mickey 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 Alexandra: The Last Tsarina

Mickey Mayhew Author Of Rasputin and his Russian Queen: The True Story of Grigory and Alexandra

From my list on 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!

Mickey's book list on Rasputin and his Russian queen

Mickey Mayhew Why did Mickey 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 Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina

Mickey Mayhew Author Of Rasputin and his Russian Queen: The True Story of Grigory and Alexandra

From my list on 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!

Mickey's book list on Rasputin and his Russian queen

Mickey Mayhew Why did Mickey 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 Author Of Rasputin and his Russian Queen: The True Story of Grigory and Alexandra

From my list on 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!

Mickey's book list on Rasputin and his Russian queen

Mickey Mayhew Why did Mickey 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…


Book cover of An Easy Death

J.J. Cagney Author Of A Pilgrimage to Death

From my list on mystery for Agatha Christie readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started reading mysteries in elementary school: Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie, and Stephen King fed my thirst for story, puzzles, and the “super-psychological.” There’s so much about the mind we don’t understand—including our relationships with animals (like an octopus detective)—or the bond between twins (like the one in my Cici series). When I worked with Irene Webb as an associate literary agent in the 2000s, my fascination with the written word and “super-psychological” blossomed. I enjoy connecting motivations, secrets, and passions into a tapestry of humanity. At their core, stories teach us how to be more human, and I want to be part of that lesson. Please enjoy this book list I’ve curated for you.

J.J.'s book list on mystery for Agatha Christie readers

J.J. Cagney Why did J.J. love this book?

I almost chose the Sookie Stackhouse series because those are a rollicking treat! C’mon, a vampire detective is pretty fantastic!

But Lizbeth’s story starts with a bang—literally. The novel (and Lizbeth) is grittier than the sweet-as-pie Sookie, which we learn in the first chapter. This dystopian world of the failed United States in the mid to late twentieth century incorporates Russian magicians called grigoris, and a complex gotta-catch-‘em plot with shootouts a la the Old West.

Yup, Charlaine Harris produced another page-turner that’s quite a departure from her Sookie days.

By Charlaine Harris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series, the inspiration for HBO’s True Blood, comes “a gripping, twisty-turny, thrill ride of a read” (Karin Slaughter, New York Times bestselling author) following a young gunslinging mercenary on deadly mission through the American Southwest.

In a fractured United States, a new world where magic is acknowledged but mistrusted, a young gunslinger named Lizbeth Rose takes a job offer from a pair of Russian wizards. Lizbeth Rose has a wildly fearsome reputation but these wizards are desperate. Searching the small border towns near Mexico, they’re trying to…


Book cover of Rubies in the Snow: Diary of Russia's Last Grand Duchess, 1911-1918

Helen Azar Author Of In the Steps of the Romanovs: Final two years of the last Russian imperial family (1916-1918)

From my list on historical fiction on royalty and Russia.

Why am I passionate about this?

After a relatively short career in research science, Helen Azar switched gears and returned to graduate school to fulfill a dream of becoming a reference librarian. She worked at the Free Library of Philadelphia for ten years, during which time she became a published author. While researching for her first book, The Diary of Olga Romanov, Helen visited Russia several times, and worked in the Rare Book Fund at the Museum at Tsarskoe Selo, which holds the imperial book collection. Today, Helen lives on the beautiful far south coast of New South Wales, Australia; she continues writing about Russia's last imperial family and leads Romanov history tours. She also administers The Romanov Family website and is the content creator for a YouTube channel In the Steps of the Romanovs.

Helen's book list on historical fiction on royalty and Russia

Helen Azar Why did Helen love this book?

I am surprised that I never came across this book until now. I rarely read Young Adult books, but of course make exceptions for Romanov fiction. There simply is not enough decent Romanov fiction out there, period. IMO this one is a gem. Although of course it is not based on the diaries of real Anastasia (who unfortunately burnt them all when the revolution broke out), the author clearly did a lot of research and seemingly read the diaries of the other sisters. Not sure why this book got so many 3 star ratings, even though the reviews say it is a very good book, but I would definitely recommend it to Romanov fiction and non-fiction history fans.

By Kate Hubbard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rubies in the Snow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The diary of Anastasia Nicolaevna Romanov, the last Grand Duchess.


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