A history written like a novel
Massie writes like a novelist, bringing the era of World War I to life in this story of the last tsar of Russia. He tells the story of how Nicholas' love for his wife and her love for their only son, the hemophiliac Alexis, ruined the nation and destroyed the lives of many. Because of his hemophilia, Alexis was kept under careful surveillance at all times to avoid an accident, but it didn't always keep the accidents from happening. When the dirty, obscene, but extraordinarily powerful Gregory Rasputin came along and was able to heal Alexis whenever the boy was hurt, the Tsarina Alexandra was totally in Rasputin's thrall and, thus, so was the Tsar himself.
"Nicholas and Alexandra" is the sad and intriguing history of the last of the Romanov family up to the time of their assassination. Perhaps because he himself has a hemophiliac son, Massie writes with pathos and presents something very real in the pages, not just dry facts of names, dates, and places. This was the book that got me interested in WWI history, and it's still one of my favorites.