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This one of the most significant events of the 20th century. In the midst of the War to End All Wars, one of the world’s powers collapses and the monarchy is overthrown, sending ripples throughout Europe and around the world. This leads to the Bolsheviks taking over, Russia becoming the Soviet Union, Stalin, famine, tens of millions dead, World War II and stopping Hitler on the Eastern Front. The fall of Berlin. The Cold War.
Yep, it was pretty significant. And one man, Doc, is sent back for the 24 hour bubble on the key day in 1917. But not to the Tsar, who was at a railroad station, but to the Alexander Palace where the Tsarina, her four daughters, and the Tsar in waiting, Alexei, are holed up. He must unravel Rasputin’s Prophecy and make sure history stays the same.
No matter what the cost.
I could’ve written an entire book just on Rasputin, who was, to say the least a weird dude (although assassinated the previous December). From what I’ve learned, he bears a large degree of blame for what happened. However, ultimately, blame must fall on Nicholas II. I cover this in Shit Doesn’t Just Happen II: The Gift of Failure. Nicholas’ list of miscalculations is long. Perhaps this is the problem with a monarchy. You get the leader that was born into the right place at the right time.
Coming 15 March. Time Patrol: Ides of March.
In terms of major events of the 20th Century, where you rank the Tsar’s abdication?
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?
I’ve had that as a mantra for many years: Want to really get to know someone? Put them in crisis. This is one of the reasons Special Operations training across the board is non-stop crisis and stress. Little food, sleep deprivation. Constant high standards to be achieved. Physical stress. There’s an array of factors that can be thrown at someone to test them.
I fast-forwarded through most of the Superbowl (I was binge watching Shades of Blue, which is surprisingly good–I’m just a boy from da Bronx) and would catch up in between every episode.
I’m a big fan of key moments. Tipping points. In books and shows, I always look for the core idea in one sentence of scene. In events, like the Superbowl, I look for a single moment. Maybe it was just me, although I was slightly surprised the announcers focused on it for the time but I don’t see much on it today, the key moment was when the Panthers fumbled with about four minutes to go. Cam Newton moved for the ball, then he literally pulled back. When they reversed the angle, you can see what he saw: looked like one of those big Denver defensive linemen had the ball just about in his grasp.
The ball squired out, right past Newton and the Broncos got it near the goal line. Essentially, game over. Newton didn’t do what every player is supposed to do when there’s a fumble: dive in and fight for it.
The key is that Newton didn’t make a conscious decision to pull back. That was instinctual. A good quarterback needs good instincts. To me, that was a bad and telling instinct. I’m not saying he’s a bad quarterback; he was the league MVP. But I think his terrible attitude at the press conference afterward was because he had a moment of enlightenment because of that play; I think he’s smart and he knows. I actually think it will make him a better person and player if he takes it to heart. With the game on the line, he pulled back.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes; some instinctual. Those are the ones that take a lot of work to change. But we can change them. It’s a question of never quitting, being aware, and being willing to change.