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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

August 16, 1992|Sue Martin

NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA: The Family Albums by Prince Michael of Greece (Tauris Parke Books; 240 pp.) Written with understandable prejudice (the author is cousin to the late czar), this sycophantic but decorative black-and-white photo history of the last of Russia's Romanov czars is an insider's look at their isolated and insular lives. The pictures, culled from the National Archives in Moscow, are from the family's personal scrapbooks. Luckily, all of the family members were fans of the newly invented Kodak Brownie Box, which appears in several of the pictures. The photos show a tightly knit, happy family: a lively gaggle of four beautiful daughters, occasionally looking very contemporary (as above: Grand Duchesses Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia), a serious and much-coddled Czarevitch Alexis and even a sometimes grinning Czar. But it is the still and sober face of the Czarina Alexandra, absorbed by the need to protect her son from his hemophilia, that reminds one of the Romanovs' and Russia's fate. These photos are a last soft and faded glimpse of the fantasy, sad because of the family's willful blindness to the world and the roil of history outside.

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