We’re offering The Last Czar: Anatomy of Catastrophe, for free today, before we pull it and wrap it into the larger Shit Doesn’t Just Happen books.
It is 1917. The world’s population is roughly 1.86 billion, although the First World War, the War to End All Wars for the glass is half full people, is taking a chunk out of that. J.R.R. Tolkien begins writing The Book of Lost Tales; in the U.S. imprisoned suffragettes from the Silent Sentinels are beaten in what became known as the Night of Terror; the first Pulitzer prizes are awarded; Mata Hari is arrested for spying; John F. Kennedy is born; a race riot in St. Louis leaves 250 dead.
And in Russia, the last Tsar, Nicholas II, abdicates on the 15th of March, changing the course of history and our present.
While I’m using that specific date in my novel coming out next month, Ides of March, I’d already done research on Nicholas II, trying to understand how his personality and decision-making (or lack thereof), that led to the downfall of the Russian Empire. Using my Rule of Seven, with Seven being the abdication, I listed the Six Cascade Events prior to that:
- Nicholas wasn’t properly trained to lead his country.
- The Russo-Japanese War was a disaster for Russia, and Nicholas II in particular.
- Nicholas’ attempts at reform hit a middle ground that pleased neither side.
- Bloody Sunday, where troops fired on marchers, was a spark that would lead to revolution.
- His wife, Tsarina Alexandra, alienated many Russians, particularly her reliance on Rasputin.
- World War I was an utter disaster for Russia, and especially Nicholas when he took personal charge of the Army, something he was not prepared or equipped to do.
One man’s lack of leadership changed the course of history and dictated the fates of millions. It still affects us today. Can we say: Putin?
The rise of the Soviet Union out of the ashes of Tsarist Russia is one of the most significant developments in the past century. Lenin, Stalin, purges, the spread of communism, the Cold War where we came perilously close to nuclear war; all were a result of Nicholas.
There were numerous cascade events spread out over decades, but a recurring theme of Nicholas II is the lack of decisive leadership along with little strategic political or military planning. He spent much of his reign reacting.
Leadership, or the lack thereof, affects many, from the troopers of the Seventh Cavalry who went to their doom to the estimated 50 million ‘unnatural deaths’ suffered by Russians under Stalin. The latter of which was a direct result from Nicholas’ failures.
For more information and detail, download the book. For free. What always amazes me is so much history that’s new to learn. The Russo-Japanese War is a good example; where at Port Arthur the Japanese launched a surprise attack prior to the official declaration of war, catching the Russian fleet unaware. That sound familiar?
It is said, those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And we do. Over and over.
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And Time Patrol: Ides of March is a little over a month away. I send Doc on the mission to the Alexander Palace, to the Tsarina and her five children, where he has to figure out how the Shadow had planned to change our history on the 15th of March 1917. It turned out to be a rather wicked mission, since the Time Patrol’s job is to keep history the same. Thus, in essence, he is condemning those four young girls and boy, along with their mother to their fates. What he has to struggle with is: what is he changes things? What if he allows the Tsarina to talk her husband into not abdicating on that date? How could that possibly change history? Would it be for the better, or for the worse?