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

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While their victim slumbered, his companions had helped themselves to all his personal possessions, including his clothes, leaving him only his white tie, which they tied round his neck before departing.At Maxim’s one evening, Grand Duke Sergey presented his mistress, Augustine de Lierre—one of Paris’s grandes cocottes (high-class prostitutes) —“with a 20-million franc necklace of pearls tastefully served on a platter of oysters. The most important take away (implicitly rather than explicitly emphasized) is that Russia has lived under severe top down autocracies since 1613 ( which continues to the present day). In France expatriate Russians could now bask in the burgeoning Franco-Russian friendship, which reached its pinnacle with a series of political alliances in the 1890s, much to the annoyance of Kaiser Wilhelm, who had tried hard to drive a wedge between the two countries.

According to the tsaritsa’s close personal friend Baroness Buxhoeveden, “The Russian Sovereigns, from the moment they set foot on French soil, were the objects of an unceasing ovation”; on entering Paris, their reception “became positively delirious. Political activists sought to overthrow the Bolshevik regime from afar, while double agents plotted espionage and assassination from both sides.

Helen Rappaport is a historian specializing in the Victorian period, with a particular interest in Queen Victoria and the Jamaican healer and caregiver, Mary Seacole. Nijinsky, Diaghilev, Bunin, Chagall, and Stravinsky joined Picasso, Hemingway, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein in the creative crucible of the Années folles. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Romanov Sisters comes the story of the Russian aristocrats, artists, and intellectuals who sought freedom and refuge in the City of Light.

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