I just finished reading this book: http://www.amazon.com/Rasputin-Untold-Joseph-T-Fuhrmann/dp/1118172760 which is new and showed up at the library. It's the first and only biography of Rasputin I've ever read, so I can't say how it compares to previous ones, but I recommend it as one that seems to be realistic and well researched. Something important I learned which I didn't know is that the Royals were keeping their son's hemophilia a secret from the whole Russian nation including important people in the government. That being the case, they could not reveal that the reason they kept Rasputin around was for the apparently miraculous effect he had on their son's pain when he was suffering from internal bleeding. Since all that was a secret, people began to imagine he had some sort of mesmeric sexual hold on the Czarina, and all kinds of other things. Many different factions arose agitating and plotting for the removal of Rasputin from St. Petersburg, even if that meant killing him. The decision to keep the hemophilia a secret ended up creating more problems, therefore, than it was intended to solve. Rasputin, for his part, had little initial interest in running the government, but became more and more interested in influencing the Czar simply because of these plots against him. He pushed to have his personal enemies removed from office and friends appointed, primarily so he could rest easy and stop looking over his shoulder all the time. This, though, simply reinforced everyone's view that he was trying to run the country, operating the Royals like marionettes. The other interesting thing I hadn't heard before is that Rasputin became a sort of Santa Claus/Godfather, trying his best to grant the wishes of anyone at all who showed up at his apartment. Every day about 100 people lined up and waited to get in and tell him their tale of woe. Some needed money, some needed government approval for one thing or another, some were being unfairly prosecuted for crimes, etc. He spent all day writing notes for them to show to the people concerned, and, since everyone knew he was the Czarina's pet, these notes carried tremendous weight. When people needed money, he went out and shook down the better off people waiting in line, demanding what cash they had in their pockets, which he would then hand over to the needy person. He was pretty promiscuous about this, and never questioned whether a person actually deserved a favor, or really needed money, taking it on faith that their request was sincere. The third important thing this book reveals is that the actual autopsy on Rasputin does not, anywhere, mention finding any water in his lungs. The author read it and wants to specifically correct previous authors who claim it does say he had water in his lungs. The myth that he survived poisoning and three bullets, finally meeting his end by drowning is busted. The bullet through his brain obviously is what killed him.