About a year back, I was perusing a bookstore in downtown Oslo - I was a bit early and a friend was a bit late, so I had some time to kill - and I happened upon this lovely book in the history section; it was a biography about Catherine the Great. Now, I didn't even know who she was, but I liked the cover and I'd been trying to read more nonfiction, so I bought it.

Later that evening, the subway massively delayed and I'd finished the other book I was reading, so started the biography and I was immediately sucked into this world of Russian history, all because of the intriguing writing of the wonderful Robert K. Massie.

Born: 1927
Nationality: American
Genre: History, Biography
Most Notable Work:
- Four books studying the House Romanov

When I was younger, I never thought I had much interest in history of any kind; history classes in school were dreadfully dull and focused mostly on remembering certain dates and people that were just names in a book. I was, however, incorrect. History is fascinating; it's filled with incredible stories and wonderful tales. What history needs to make it fascinating though, is a good storyteller - and that's exactly what Massie is. 

The books I've read by Massie are huge volumes, stretching over decades. Somehow though, he makes them feel like a breeze (or as close to a breeze as these kinds of books can possibly get). He conjures up the worlds these people lived in and the people themselves become flesh and blood on the page, they become more than a picture of a painting on a page. They become real and the worlds inside his books become colorful and vibrant.

If you have any interest in history at all, this is an author you simply must read. Even if you think you don't care about the Imperial Family of Russia, after reading these, you'll be fascinated. Trust me.

Books I've Read:

Books I Want To Read:

The Book To Start With:

Now, this is a very loose suggestion - you can start with whichever of his books you like. I started with Catherine the Great and didn't suffer for it. However, if you want to get the timeline right, this is the best to start with, as the Romanov story starts with Peter. Then you can read about Catherine the Great and understand all the references in it. Then, you can move on to Nicholas and Alexandra, and finally read the one I still have left; The Romanovs: The Final Chapter.

You can also start with Catherine the Great as it is perhaps his most readable one, or Nicholas and Alexandra, because it's closer to our time and easier to connect with.

I couldn't find any interviews with Massie that I wanted to share, but I did find a Author Spotlight video by fellow booktuber A Book Olive (which you should subscribe to, if you haven't already), where she talks a bit about both the author and the four books I've mentioned.

I hope I've peaked your interest a little bit, and if you decide to pick up one of his books: happy reading!


  1. Ahh I love the Romanovs, but mainly because the mystery surrounding their deaths! Thanks for recommendation, I'll definitely check this author out :)

    1. Agreed, it's a very interesting story! xx Alice


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