*I am a Chinese, who live in Beijing, my English is not good, so please understand my misuse of words, punctuations and errors of grammar.
In part one, the first chapter of the book explains the relationships of Nicholas, Tsar Alexander II, Tsar Alexander III and princess Alix. Most importantly the mention of the religious issues that surround Nicholas and princess Alix, since many people nowadays do not understand how important the religious elements are to the Royal family all around Europe. Chapter two explains the coronation of Tsar Nicolas II and Empress Alexandra, which means more connections with Orthodoxy. By become the Tsar and Tsarina, not only huge rights and power fall upon their shoulders but individual responsibilities. So, after the ‘Khodynka tragedy’, it was them the people blamed. In my opinion the important part of chapter two is the stories of the Princess Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, Tsesarevich Alexis and the canonization of St Seraphim of Sarov which shows the bond between the Royal Martyrs and the Orthodox churches. Chapter three is about the Russo-Japanese war. In January 1904, after the sudden attack from Japan, it was ‘the people of Russia’ that gathered outside of the Winter Palace, demanded the war, and in less than a year, under the Communists Propaganda and the command of Georgi Gapon instigated ‘the people of Russia’ to against the war which led into a blood shed. The Communists Propaganda always advocates on ‘people’s rights’, ‘abuse of Power’ but they never mention The Individual Responsibilities of Persons, because they believed in a crazy idea called ‘Collectivism’, and the collectivists never take responsibilities of anything. It is and always is the individual that can take responsibilities not some people who only consider themselves as ‘a group’ or ‘a party’. As for the relationship between Gapon and the Okhrana is a very interesting topic to dig into, because we now know that not only Gapon and other Bolsheviks but even the Cheka members were using techniques that were only known to the members of Okhrana. After the revolution of 1905, the Duma was established, and reforms were carried out. However, the revolutionaries did not want to see a successful reform, so they assassinated Peter Stolypin. The same chapter also represents the illness and suffering of Tsesarevich Alexis, thus Rasputin slipped into the life of the royal family. Nevertheless, Saint Elisabeth Feodorovna’s letters to Nicholas II provided another perspective of the whole incident. In my view, if the book could add some opinions of Prince Yusupov, then the content of this part of the chapter would be more substantial. Chapter four is mainly about the First World War and the ‘February Revolution’. Since there are so many books and documents on WWI, I would like to pay more attention on the ‘Revolution’ which isn’t a result of what the Marxist Communists called -‘Historical Inevitability’ but a combination of a Coup D’état (which led by Alexander Guchkov, Alekseyev, Prince Lvov, Rodzianko, Krymov and General A.A.Manikovsky etc.), Bolshevik agitate and the circus of Kerensky. As for the need of ‘Bread and Peace’? What a joke.
In the history textbooks of Chinese high schools (even some universities), the lies of Bolsheviks are kept unchanged. People thought it was Lenin and his ‘October Revolution’ that brought down the Romanov Dynasty and very few people even heard of the ‘February Revolution’ let alone Kerensky.
The second part of the book is mainly focused on the imprisonment and the martyrdom of the Royal Martyrs. Chapter five explained the imprisonment in Tsarskoe Selo and in Tobolsk. In this Chapter, the changes of personalities of different people is noted, such as Andrei Derevenko, the guards in different places and even Kerensky. Moreover, the drama which is described in the end of the chapter regard the transportation of the Royal Martyrs to Ekaterinburg under supervision of Yakovlev and his communication with Sverdlov is something that might need more in-depth investigation. Chapter six is more about the imprisonment in Ipatiev House and the murder. However, even during such difficult times, The Royal Martyrs never abandon their bond with the orthodox churches and their own believes. Throughout their imprisonment, people of different churches and monasteries from Tsarskoe Selo, Tobolsk to Ekaterinburg tried their best to provide both material and spiritual aids to the Royal Martyrs. These stories are not included in most of the other books related on such topic. What I think this chapter missed is how cowardly the Communists and Cheka agents not only in Ural, but all-around Russia acted towards Gilliard and Gibbes. They are so afraid to hurt these two gentlemen, because of the danger of start another ‘Great War’ between Soviet, France and Great Britain. Also, another interesting detail I realized is Dr Botkin used the parlor of the Ipatiev house as his bedroom, if the parlor is in the only way that people could rush to the Romanovs, then anyone who tries to harm the Royal Martyrs might have to confronted by Dr Botkin first. So, one might argue that Dr Botkin tried his best to protect the Royal Martyrs to the end. As for Yakov Yurovsky, as far as I am concerned, he puerilely thought he has a meaningless life, and by murdering the Royal Martyrs he might become someone important, a hero of the revolution maybe, thus his life is meaningful. People always can make choices and some of the guards at Ipatiev House chose not to participate in the murder, but Yurovsky chose not to quit. Did he have a meaningful life after all? I don’t know, but certainly he is not considered a hero of the revolution and he died in a hospital in 1938. Look at the modern world, not only in Communist China but all around the world, most of the public schools never teach young people to live a meaningful life, they even don’t tell students that life has meaning. In my opinion the martyrdom of the Royal Martyrs and the ‘Revolutions’ of Russia still need to be learned by people all around the world from different perspectives and angles, such as religious, political, economical and even psychological and others. If not, I believe, or rather I know the same evil thing will happen again and again in different countries of this world.
Part three of the book is the words of the saints, but since I am not a religious person, I don’t have too much of the knowledge on such topic. Therefore, I would not write things that might confuse others. However, I would say that the words of Saint Tikhon and Saint John Maximovitch are very inspiring.
The Epilogue which written by Nicholas B.A. Nicholson provides more useful information on how Nicholas II and his ministers helped to improve the country and those statistics don’t lie. The Appendix, which is an article, published in 1906 provides an American perspective of the Tsarina, and portray the character of Tsarina through the description of detail.
The pictures of the Royal Martyrs, their relatives and friends which colorized by Olga Shirnina are magnificent. A true professional job, and strong artistic quality.
In conclusion, ‘The Romanov Royal Martyrs: What Silence Could Not Conceal’ is a very good book for people who want to have another perspective of the Romanov Dynasty and the ‘Revolutions’ during that period. The English edition of the book is not perfect, there are several errors of punctuations and strange arrangement of words, but those errors can be fixed easily. Some people might argue about the book’s lack of some events, people and other perspectives such as the ‘revolution thoughts’ of the Bolsheviks, the government of China’s involvement during the Russian Civil War (Chinese did send military units to Russia). However, every book has its focus, and this one is on the ORTHODOXY and the Royal Martyrs, and the book is not another version of Solzhenitsyn’s ‘The Red Wheel’ or another version of ‘Encyclopædia Britannica’. If someone really wants to see something that contains all events, people, their relations with the Royal Martyrs and how each of them effected Russia and the world during the late 19th century to the early 20th century etc., I believe we need to build another ‘Library of Alexandria’.
5th March 2020