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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Prince Felix Yusupov by Christopher Dobson

Felix Yusupov - The Man Who Murdered Rasputin by Christopher Dobson

Who was Rasputin?

Probably, many would like to answer it.

Who was Felix Yusupov?

There is every apprehension that many would not identify him. It depends to which continent one belongs and ones awareness, interests and culture that may bring up different answers. In case, if there is an answer, then, it would be that he was the Russian prince who killed Rasputin.

The book under consideration is “Prince Felix Yusupov Christopher Dobson The Man Who Murdered Rasputin”.

The title appears in that order on the book. Christopher Dobson killed Rasputin or Prince Felix Yusupov? The title is worded in that manner. It can not be helped. The arrangement of the terms in the title itself elicited this comment.

However, Prince Felix Yusupov, The Man Who Murdered Rasputin is written by Christopher Dobson. Christopher Dobson is a journalist and freelance writer. Some of his titles which are coauthored with other writers have attracted the attention of the reviewers of India Today because Christopher Dobson writes about terrorists.

The book was first published in 1989 by Harrap Books Ltd. The book presently reviewed is an epub which was published by Endeavour Press Ltd. Now here is an anecdote which is narrated as follows.

Why is this book picked?

I learned about Felix Yusupov when reading 'The End of Rasputin Reign' in book Grigori Rasputin – A Life from Beginning to End' published by Hourly History. I have read many titles from Hourly History. I do not write any review on each of them. The Hourly History idea of producing books spread over 40 to 50 pages does not attract much. The contents of such books are similar to that of essays available on Wikipedia. The name of the author is not given. The finner point of these books is that the publication intelligently develops chapters. They introduce the topic with an overall idea behind the subject of their writing.

In case of the title on Rasputin, they have written a very gripping story of the act of murder of Rasputin. It is not available in that form on Wikipedia. I did not know about Felix Yusupov. I have not read much about Russian history. My reading of Russian history is confined to textbooks. The episode of the murder is narrated in an attracting manner. Therefore, it prompted me to learn about Felix Yusupov.

I searched for details on Felix Yusupov. I came across the title written by Christopher Dobson. I located the book on Amazon. I went through the glimpse into the book. I found that Christopher Dobson had worked as a journalist during the Soviet Union period. In brief on the writer, it is written that he lives in Sussex and writes on terrorism. After that, the following lines appear and verified that they still appear there as on March 6, 2018.

“Endeavour Press is the UK's leading independent digital publisher. For more information on our titles, please sign up for our newsletter at Each week you will receive updates on free and discounted ebooks."

The above lines appear in the post as it is placed on the site of Amazon. The publisher had suggested that they also provide free ebooks.

“Free”. Now that is something which always attracts.

Further, the publisher has written following line about itself.

I quote.

Endeavour Press believes that the future is now.

I was attracted by the brief description about the publisher. I tried to explore their site. It happened thus.

When I logged into the site of the publisher, a message was seen displayed that the company of the publisher had applied for liquidation. It intrigued me. I drew an inference that soon the book would be removed from the list of sellers. (My apprehension had materialized into a reality. The Amazon removed this book from its seller's list when checked in on March 12, 2018. However, a different selling source was selling it at a higher cost.)It may reappear with a different price tag. The details as provided about the book was quite impressive. Therefore, I decided to buy it under the apprehension that it would be removed from the selling list.

The whole thing is quite intriguing. The contents are equally intriguing. My overworked imagination developed an undesirable conspiracy theory behind it. The author lives in Sussex. The UK was the country which fought against Germany. Russia, after becoming the USSR worked against the monarchy. All the prominent monarchs lost their throne, but some of them have survived, and the royal house of the UK is one of them. I baked my conspiracy pudding. It goaded me to buy it.

Let us see something about the contents.

The Book

It is a book in which gossips, historical facts, journalist opinion, international relations of erstwhile royal political players and history are packed.

The book is divided into two sections.

The section one is called the Splendour and Murder. It is about the splendour of the aristocratic families and Royal Romanov Dynasty. It is about the autocracy and its control. However, the central theme of this section is the murder of Gregori Efimovitch Rasputin, a peasant from Serbia who became a holy man. However, in general perception of one section of humanity, he was a man of evil nature who aroused great hatred in Russia and became the cause of obliteration of the Romanov Royalty. It is up to the reader to approve any side of the picture which is available in the written records, opinionated works and general perception. However, the first two chapters which make the opening of the story in the book are about the sequence of the murder of Rasputin. One may develop an impression, the book is about the murder of Rasputin and not about Prince Felix Yusupov.

The life of Prince Felix Yusupov is narrated in the second section titled Poverty and Redemption. Rasputin was killed in December 1916. His body was recovered on January 1, 1917. The Bolshevik Revolution took place in November 1917. Tsar Nicholas II and his family were butchered in July 1918. The aristocratic families escaped from Russia with the help of Britain in the British ship HMS Marlborough. Only Dowager Empress Marie was allowed entry in England and rest of the royalty had to make their own arrangements in different parts of Europe. From thereon, the story of Prince Felix Yusupov is narrated. The Prince escaped with jewels and lived by selling them throughout his life for his survival and repeatedly recounting his achievement of the murder of Rasputin. The Prince sold the jewels in Europe and America. Felix, the prince, tried the hand at the business with moderate success. Felix Yusupov and his wife moved cases against libel and won claims. The royal lady suffered the gruelling hardship of court proceedings for saving their reputation. In the end, Felix died like a saint. It is as told by the writer. In this way, a picture about the skills for the survival of an erstwhile royal family is depicted. No doubt, all these episodes are based on historical facts and not based on any fictional constructs.

Apart from the two sections of the story, there are some peculiar features of this book. The writer has given the list of characters in the introductory chapter. The writer writes about the historical figures and real happenings but starts his book as if he is going to narrate a story of theatrical drama. However, a writer is allowed a literary license even for a historical narration. History is also an art and literature both combined.

In the preface, the writer has recollected all the efforts which he made to develop this book. The writer recalls the people from whom he collected his material. He has acknowledged the resources which he tapped for checking his facts. However, at the end of the book, he provides a bibliography. But the narration suffered from a journalist touch to the historical narrative. 

The writer has made some observations which may not be appreciated by all.

In chapter 10, "Killed by Savages" when the royal perpetrators of crime mismanaged the act of killing Rasputin and fumbled at every step that writer made the following comment.

“The men though who knew how to run Russia could not even dispose of a body efficiently.” Then he comments, “Future Russian leaders (Communist) would do much better.” Such a judgement may not be appreciated by the academic circle.

Further, in chapter 12, Exile, the writer reveals the working of the mind of English royal house and government. He made the following comment while narrating the operation of Exile as organized by the British government. He writes, "Albion had been perfidious once more."

The book is written by a native English speaker. Hence, the narration is quite lucid and communicative. The language is simple. There is no attempt to impress the reader with bombastic terms and expression. 

It is just a coincidence that I was intrigued by the contents of the book and felt as if I read a worldwide conspiracy about which rest of the world is not aware, and a report appeared in March 2018 that a living Russian spy living in exile in the UK was poisoned.

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