Books: Broad Russian Nature

THE ROMANOVS—William Gerhardi—Putnam ($5).

William Gerhardi, a polyglot Englishman who was born in Russia, has written novels, short stories, a play, a critical biography of Chekhov. He is perhaps most widely known for his novel The Polyglots. Last week he added to his list a long (484-page), glittering, malicious, at times staggeringly funny history of the Romanov dynasty. Subtitled Evocation of the Past as a Mirror for the Present, it is a profuse record of peculiarly dizzy people in a peculiarly dizzy part of the world.

When the Romanovs 'came to the throne 300 years...

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