After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Époque Through Revolution and War

St. Martin’s. Mar. 2022. 336p. ISBN 9781250273109. $29.99. HIST
In this latest work, journalist Rappaport (The Race To Save the Romanovs) chronicles the experiences of refugees fleeing the Bolsheviks in the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Paris was a second home for many members of the czar’s court before the Revolution; with their lives in peril, it became a natural destination for Russian monarchists, Rappaport writes. They were followed by artists, writers, and counterrevolutionaries who feared the Communist Party’s regime. Life as a refugee in Paris was very different than life as a wealthy visiting aristocrat, Rappaport reveals: the difficult transition required often-wealthy counterrevolutionaries to earn their own money and deal with loss of homeland and social status. Military generals became taxi drivers, princesses used embroidery skills to open ateliers, and those Russians with no titles or jewelry to live off often starved or subsisted on coffee. All the while, the counterrevolutionaries’ hope persisted that the Soviet Union would crumble and they could resume their previous lives in the land they pined for, Rappaport writes. Memoirs and literature deftly round out her historical reporting to create a vivid picture of the wrenching life change that thousands of Russians underwent.
VERDICT This narrative nonfiction will appeal to those interested in Russian history, especially the Russian Revolution, and to readers of historical fiction by authors like Ken Follett or Marie Benedict.
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