Mcneal, Shay 1946-

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McNEAL, Shay 1946-


Born November 5, 1946, in Sturgis, KY; daughter of John H, Earl Evans (an executive with the Red Cross) and Mary Ellen Baird; married Richard McNeal (died 1972); married Gordon K. Smith, October 24, 1975 (divorced 1982); children: (first marriage) Hethur; (second marriage) Paris. Education: DeKalb College. Politics: Democrat. Hobbies and other interests: Horseback riding.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022.


Savannah St. Mission, Atlanta, GA, assistant director, 1968-70; Lovable Company, Atlanta, special project assistant, 1970-71; Montgomery Ward, New York, NY, associate buyer, 1971-73; Dan River Mills, New York, NY, national fashion director; Macy's, Atlanta, marketing director, 1974-78; Smith McNeal Advertising, Atlanta, president, 1978-86; William Cook Advertising, Atlanta, senior vice president, 1986-89; Preemptive Ltd., Beverly Hills, CA, president, 1989-91; Georgetown Productions, Washington, DC, 1991—; author. Contributor to BBC and Discovery Channel; consultant to political campaigns.


American Association of Advertising Agencies, Executive Women's Association, Atlanta Advertising Club, Delmarva Research Center for History and Culture, Educational Film Center.


AdWeek Atlanta designation as one of the Top Advertising Women in the Southeast, 1987.


The Secret Plot to Save the Tsar: The Truth behind the Romanov Mystery, Morrow/HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.


Shay McNeal, a successful advertising executive with a strong interest in history, began research in 1995 for her book about the fate of Russia's imperial family, the Romanovs. The Russian tsar and his family were reportedly murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918, but suspicious details of the family's remains and subsequent rumors about survivors kept the story of this royal family alive. As it became available following the fall of the USSR, McNeal examined newly declassified information about the case and published the results of her investigation in The Secret Plot to Save the Tsar: The Truth behind the Romanov Mystery.

The subject of the Romanovs' death has attracted many writers, but McNeal's book, according to Book Page reviewer Alan Prince, is different. She "widens the scope of the Romanov tragedy by tracing complicated relationships and complex intrigues," Prince observed. Some of the details McNeal discovered include attempted rescues of the royal family by none other than King George V of Great Britain, President Woodrow Wilson, and other powerful politicians in Japan and Europe. Apparently even Vladimir Lenin was involved, having been provided financial support from the Allies to ensure that the family would remain safe.

McNeal disputes archaeological evidence and DNA testing that supports the Bolshevik story. Why, she asks in the book, were the certified facts of DNA bone-testing of the alleged Romanov physical remains put under lock and key? Did the officials have something to hide? On her Web site McNeal has stated that her main goal was not to reach any definitive conclusions as to the fate of the Romanovs, but to act as a "conduit" for her readers. "I feel there is even more work to be done," she wrote, adding that "my readers …will, no doubt, add more primary source information to this historic puzzle."

Though reviewers for Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews found some of Shay's material unconvincing, they acknowledged the validity of her information on various plans to save the Romanovs. Russian Life contributor Dorothy Sayers described The Secret Plot to Save the Tsar as a "compelling" work about a "true-life cloak-and-dagger mystery."



Contemporary Review, September 2001, review of The Plot to Save the Tsar, p. 188.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2002, review of The Secret Plot to Save the Tsar, p. 1286.

Publishers Weekly, October 28, 2002, review of The Secret Plot to Save the Tsar, p. 62.

Russian Life, September-October, 2002, Dorothy L. Sayers, review of The Secret Plot to Save the Tsar, p. 46.


BookPage, (January 7, 2003), Alan Prince, review of The Secret Plot to Save the Tsar.

Shay McNeal Web site, (January 7, 2003).*

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Mcneal, Shay 1946-

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