Why do we know the name of an early 20th century Russian mystic? Why is it that the story of Rasputin has become a mini-industry of myth and folklore, well into the 21st century?
Here is a That Stack of Books Extra, an author interview about a forthcoming book. Steve Scher talked to historian Douglas Smith at Folio, the new independent library and cultural center in downtown Seattle.
So why do we know the name Rasputin?
Oh, right, it may have something to do with the story that he had to be poisoned, stabbed and shot and dumped into a freezing river by his murderers before he would die. Or that he had a momentous appetite for food and wine and women.
Turns out, these stories are part of the apocryphal tales that arose about the monk. They were usually spread by his court enemies.
Russian scholar Douglas Smith has a new book coming out in the fall. It may well be the definitive history of the man and the myth. Smith's previous books include "Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy," and "The Pearl: A True Tale of Forbidden Love in Catharine the Great's Russia."
For his work on Rasputin, he was given access to Russian archives as well as the papers of some of Rasputin's contemporaries.
We will be back at the Bryant Corner Cafe soon with more conversations about books.