Ekaterinburg:  The Last Days of the Romanovs

book one in the bestselling series

“Quite simply, stunning. . . . Chilling and poignant, this is how history books should be written.”


Ekaterinburg:  The Last Days of the Romanovs

On July 4, 1918, a new commandant took control of a closely guarded house in the Russian town of Ekaterinburg. His name was Yakov Yurovsky, and his prisoners were the Imperial family: the former Tsar Nicholas, his wife Alexandra and their children, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexey. Thirteen days later, at Yurovsky’s command, and on direct orders from Moscow, the family was gunned down in a blaze of bullets in a basement room.

This is the story of those murders, which ended 300 years of Romanov rule and set their stamp on an era of state-orchestrated terror and brutal repression.

Ekaterinburg: The Last Days of the Romanovs counts down to the last , tense hours of the family’s lives, stripping away the over-romanticised versions of previous accounts. The story focuses on the family inside the Ipatiev House, capturing the oppressive atmosphere and the dynamics of a group – the Romanovs, their servants and guards – thrown together by extraordinary events.

Marshalling overlooked evidence from key witnesses such as the British consul to Ekaterinburg Sir Thomas Preston, British and American travellers in Siberia and the now-forgotten American journalist Herman Bernstein, Helen Rappaport gives a brilliant account of the political forces swirling through the remote Urals town. She conveys the tension of the watching world: the Kaiser of Germany and George V, King of England – both, like Alexandra, grandchildren of Queen Victoria – their nations locked in combat as the first world war drew to its bitter end. And she draws on recent releases from the Russian archives to challenge the view that the deaths were a unilateral act by a maverick group of the Ekaterinburg Bolsheviks, identifying a chain of command that stretches directly, she believes, to Moscow – and to Lenin himself.

Telling the story in a compellingly new and dramatic way, Ekaterinburg brings those final tragic days vividly alive against the backdrop of Russia in turmoil, on the brink of a devastating civil war.

The National Geographic Mystery Files on the Romanovs

The Murder of the Romanovs in Ekaterinburg, July 1918

The Romanovs’ Last Days:

Here is an extraordinary   piece of footage shot in Ekaterinburg only five months after the Romanovs were murdered. It was filmed by members of the US Signal Corps – Captain Howard  Kingsmore and Private Phil Tannamur  – who entered Ekaterinburg with forces of the Allied Intervention in December 1918. The original is in the National Archives in Washington.


“As shocking and immediate as a thriller… [a] gripping read.”

People magazine


“That perfect but rare blend of history, sense of place, human tragedy, drama and atmosphere”

Susan Hill


“Helen Rappaport brilliantly assembles the intricacies of the story in untroubling prose with some colourful re-imaginings to make this account utterly compelling.”



“Author Rappaport, a talented British writer of narrative history, telescopes the post-abdication story of the Romanovs into the two weeks preceding their deaths,  …[Rappaport] has produced an emotionally powerful work of history. ”


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Latest Articles and Media about The Romanovs

Sophie Karlovna Buxhoeveden, Pt 2

Sophie Karlovna Buxhoeveden, Pt 2

In May 1919, after having been received by Alexandra, the Queen Mother at Marlborough House, Isa travelled on to Copenhagen where she was finally reunited with her widowed father and she lived with him there for the next year or so.

Sophie Karlovna Buxhoeveden – Pt 1

Sophie Karlovna Buxhoeveden – Pt 1

Sophie Karlovna von Buxhoeveden [styled Буксгевден/Buksgevden in Russian] – or Isa as she was known to the Imperial Family – always thought of herself as a Russian. But although she was born in St Petersburg in 1883, her father Karl Matthias had come from Dorpat [today’s Tartu] in what was then the Governorate of Livonia of which Estonia was part.

Amazon’s Romanoffs vs the Real House of Romanov

It may be fiction but there is no doubt that it exploits the same tired old myth-making about the Romanovs that many Romanov historians and aficionados such as I are sick to death of seeing and reading about. It is time all these false claims and their attendant mythology were finally closed down…

The Last Days of Sydney Gibbes

It was something of a tradition in the Imperial Family to have non-Russian tutors and nannies for their children. Perhaps the best known of them all was the English tutor Sydney Gibbes who taught first Anastasia and Maria and later Alexey the Tsarevich.

The Romanovs Centenary Celebrations 2018

The huge numbers of pilgrims who travelled to Ekaterinburg  – not just from within Russia but from all over the world –  are a testament to the enduring power of the Romanov story and the strong sense of identification that many Russians have, still, with their murdered Imperial family…

OTMA – The Romanov Sisters

Going out into the Koptyaki Forest where the family’s bodies were dumped after they were murdered in July 1918, left an indelible impression on my mind and my creative imagination. I wanted, with a passion, to tell the story of those four lovely, much photographed but historically neglected sisters…

You can find more videos, podcasts and other media on the topic of the Romanovs, Russia & Revolution on Helen’s main page for this area of expertise HERE

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