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Death of a Salesman

Grigori Rasputin was one of history’s most infamous, improbable influences, a degenerate Siberian peasant who contributed enormously to the implosion of Russia’s three-hundred-year-old Romanov dynasty. A self-styled “holy man,” Rasputin presented himself as a miracle worker to Alexandra Feodorovna, the last tsarina, by preying on her penchant for mystics and her bouts of nervous hysteria. Combining coincidence with curative talents, he convinced the empress that he alone could ease the pain of her hemophiliac son and heir to the throne, Alexei. Asked why he allowed the famously unwashed and lecherous intruder in his family’s midst, Tsar Nicholas II replied, “Better one Rasputin than ten hysterical scenes a day.” Rasputin’s influence soon...

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