In the darkest days of the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union, when all talk of the Romanovs was punishable at the very least by banishment to Serbia, a group of archivists were exempt. They sorted and filed the thousands of letters and photographs of the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, his wife, Alexandra (a granddaughter of Queen Victoria), and their five children. In all, some 13,000 letters have survived. Those between 1889 and 1914 have never before been published. They run the gamut from matters of state to intimate expressions of love and longing. In addition there are the letters of their four daughters and their only son, the haemophiliac Alexis, whose health was to introduce the crucial and some say malign influence of Rasputin. The editors also draw on Nicholas's diaries, letters to his mother, and the diaries and memoirs of their close contemporaries. It includes first hand accounts of the murder of Rasputin in 1916 and the assassination of the Romanovs at Ekaterinburg in 1918.