Books · Reviews

Rasputin: A Short Life – Frances Welch

I picked this book up for a variety of reasons. One: I have a degree in Russian History focusing on Imperial Cultural and Intellectual history. Two: Having taken several classes on Russian history I have found that while Rasputin is mentioned he always appears as a side note and this has left me wondering what the details of his life really were. Three: I wanted to mix it up a little. While I tend to lean more toward fiction (fantasy in particular) and due to recent time constraints these tend to be quick reads; I do enjoy different topics. Despite the nature of my degree, I am not an autobiography/biography sort of person; hence the focus on culture and not politics. Seeing that this book is fairly short, roughly 200 pages, and I have been particularly curious about him I chose to allow for an exception.

As anyone who has ever heard of the name Rasputin can tell you he was a “truly odd” man. Welch delicately (as much as the content will allow) retells the extent of his extremities using police reports, interview quotes, letters, and all other types of materials available. I found that for such a brief book on one so publicly involved it seemed fairly thorough. I did feel, however, there were a few moments where the time line was a little hazy or even interrupted and the way it was handled weakened the overall flow. Aside from those rare brief technical hiccups I would say this was an interesting read.

To anyone who finds themselves wanting to read this book I would recommend it; just prepare yourself to be astounded at absurdities, disgusted by details, and flabbergasted at how no one was diagnosed with mental issues.

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