My Bookshelf for Book Reviews

My Bookshelf: Catherine the Great Portrait of a Woman

I just finished reading this amazing biography on Catherine the Great. If you like well-told tales of history and interesting people, check it out (and don’t let the 625 pages intimidate you – it reads well and quickly).

Catherine the Great Portrait of a Woman, by Robert K. Massie

The story of Catherine the Great (1729-96) is compelling for she ruled in a male-dominated world with enlightenment, extraordinary wit, political savvy and passion. At the very beginning, we learn how luck played an important role in Catherine’s early life, transforming her from the real possibility of being the wife of an impoverished German prince to the favorite of Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great and aunt and guardian to the successor to the throne, Peter III. After the marriage was sealed – and she faced serious obstacles – her intelligence and ambition helped put her on the throne. Yet having usurped the throne from her weak husband, who was devoted to Frederick of Prussia (and seemed incapable of the task at hand), Catherine wanted the world to know that even if she wasn’t Peter the Great’s direct descendant, she was his rightful heir. She lived up to the challenge as she expanded and modernized the Russian empire, building on Peter the Great’s triumphs. Massie writes a lively account of Catherine’s life and her reign, writing more like a novelist than an academic or historian. I found myself hard-pressed to put this 625-page book down.

 

Catherine the Great Portrait of a Woman

By Robert K. Massie

Description: Catherine the Great: Portrait of a WomanThe story of Catherine the Great (1729-96) is compelling for she ruled in a male-dominated world with extraordinary wit and a sophisticated political savvy. At the very beginning, we learn how luck played an important role in Catherine’s early life, transforming her from the real possibility of being the wife of an impoverished German prince to the favorite of Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great and aunt and guardian to the successor to the throne, Peter III. After the marriage was sealed – and she faced serious obstacles – her intelligence and ambition helped put her on the throne. Yet having usurped the throne from her weak husband, who was devoted to Frederick of Prussia (and seemed incapable of the task at hand), Catherine wanted the world to know that even if she wasn’t Peter the Great’s direct descendant, she was his rightful heir. She lived up to the challenge as she expanded and modernized the Russian empire, building on Peter the Great’s triumphs. Massie writes a lively account of Catherine’s life and her reign, writing more like a novelist than an academic or historian. I found myself hard-pressed to put this 625-page book down.