Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

Zip Catherine the Great Portrait of a Woman Firstly to answer your most pressing question regarding Catherine the Great the Empress of Russia from to No she did not die having sex with

Zip Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman Firstly, to answer your most pressing question regarding Catherine the Great, the Empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796: No, she did not die having sex with a horse.Moreover, if you have an abiding interest in the origins of this rumor, Robert K. Massie’s Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman will not satiate your deviant interest (it certainly didn't satisfy mine). Massie refuses to engage the slander – born during her own lifetime – at any level.Thus, there is not one sentence of horse sex in nearly 600 pages of text. Of other sexual encounters, though, there are many. The story of Catherine the Great is filled with sex. There are enough romantic entanglements, sordid liaisons, and passionate affairs to fuel several television seasons on premium cable. There are also dozens of the betrayals, murders, coups, plots and palace secrets that underlie so much of Russia’s imperial history. Massie gives life to them all in a book that balances the literal hugeness of Russia – a stage 1/8 the size of Earth – with an intimate, warts-and-all portrayal of her leaders. Born Sophia Augusta Fredericka, a minor German princess, Catherine eventually traveled to Russia to be the wife of Peter III, the future tsar. Her early years in Russia were extremely difficult. She had a volatile relationship with the reigning Russian monarch, Empress Elizabeth, a relationship that actually looks much better in relation to her husband, Peter III, an immature boy of few gifts who treated Catherine horribly. (Massie supports the theory that Peter’s mood, as well as Catherine’s and Peter’s inability to consummate the marriage, stemmed from Peter’s phimosis, a condition marked by a painful tightening of the foreskin). In 1762, Empress Elizabeth died and Peter ascended the throne, where he performed as poorly as expected. Just six months into his rein, an alienated Imperial Guard revolted and proclaimed Catherine the Empress. Seizing the moment, Catherine had her husband arrested; Peter III was killed by Alexei Orlov just eight days later, while imprisoned. (Massie finds no evidence that Catherine was involved in ordering Peter’s death). Catherine reigned until 1796 in a manner best described as the personification of Montesquieu’s “benevolent despot.” She liked to compare herself to Peter the Great, and she worked to further modernize/Europeanize Russia. She was a patron of the arts and literature; she believed in the value of education; she paid service to enlightenment values and even carried on a lengthy correspondence with Voltaire. During her 34 year reign, she dealt with wars, rebellions, and the fallout of the French Revolution. Despite her dalliances with liberalism, though, she was deeply pragmatic. She made some changes to Russia’s serf laws, but left serfdom – a pretty way of saying slavery – firmly in place. Massie tells this sweeping story from the ground, through the eyes of those who lived it. This is first and foremost a story about people. The narrative belies the Tolstoyan view of history as an impersonal force. Instead, it focuses on how history is shaped and shifted by ordinary folks with recognizably human abilities and failings, ambitions and desires.I am a huge fan of Massie’s books, and I have always appreciated this about him. For this same reason, he his disliked by academics and “serious” students of Russia. After all, Massie is a writer, not a researcher. He relies on secondary sources and translations in crafting his books. He does not write scholarly works. For the most part, I think the criticism is generated by Massie’s success. He has amassed an enviable career without ever having to worry about tenure, which certainly must aggravate his critics. But that is not to say that Massie is beyond reproach. Certainly, his lack of facility with primary sources (he uses 4 different translations of Catherine’s Memoirs) gives me pause.More importantly, I question Massie’s objectivity in dealing with his subjects. He tends to be less a biographer than a booster. This is a failing in all of his books. In Peter the Great, Massie delights in telling of Peter capering about Europe incognito, but glosses over the Tsar’s order to torture his own son. Similarly, in Nicholas and Alexandra, Massie provides an overly-sympathetic portrait of Nicholas as an inherently decent man in over his depth, rather than the anti-Semitic blunderer he actually was. Here, too, Catherine is given the benefit of every doubt. If Massie is required to make a historical judgment call, you can be certain that it will inure to Catherine’s advantage. These concerns, however, are a bit esoteric, and are overwhelmed by the sheer joy of being in the hands of an absurdly good storyteller. Quite simply, Massie is on a very short list of authors who have that rare gift of giving life to history. You finish this book with a sense not only of what these famous people have done, but what these famous people were like. Massie’s writing style is engaging and graceful, if not elegant. Like Robert Caro, he does not simply focus on his subject, but gives ample time to all the people in his subject’s life. As such, Catherine the Great treats the reader to fascinating mini-biographies of Johanna, Catherine’s scheming, petty, small-minded mother; Empress Elizabeth, the mother-in-law from hell; and Gregory Potemkin, the greatest of all Catherine’s lovers, who for many years was the most powerful man in Russia. The result of Massie’s focus on intertwining personalities is a sense of history unfolding as it happens, rather than a discrete event that happened long ago. The larger perspective tends to get lost, but that’s okay. If I have to choose between a more formal and rigid survey of Catherine’s reign or a detailed recounting of the soap operatic machinations of Catherine’s court, I’m choosing the latter. As I said before, this is a book of sex and violence (but no horse sex or horse violence). It provides all the prurient joys of the trashiest novel, yet comes cloaked in the respectability of a weighty tome by a respected author. I don’t know about you, but this is a win-win for me. I’m always on the lookout for a way to satisfy both my lowbrow instincts and my highbrow pretensions. Robert K. Massie’s Catherine the Great does both. . Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman am Book 23 hours, 52 minutesPulitzer Prize winner Massie offers the tale of a princess who went to Russia at 14 and became one of the most powerful women in history Born into minor German nobility, she transformed herself into an empress by sheer determination Possessing a brilliant, curious mind, she devoured the works of Enlightenment philosophers, and reaching the throne, tri23 hours, 52 minutesPulitzer Prize winner Massie offers the tale of a princess who went to Russia at 14 and became one of the most powerful women in history Born into minor German nobility, she transformed herself into an empress by sheer determination Possessing a brilliant, curious mind, she devoured the works of Enlightenment philosophers, and reaching the throne, tried using their principles to rule the vast, backward empire She knew or corresponded with notable figures of her time Voltaire, Diderot, Frederick the Great, Maria Theresa of Austria, Marie Antoinette John Paul Jones Wanting to be the benevolent despot Montesquieu idealized, she contended with the deeply ingrained realities of Russian life, including serfdom She persevered, and for 34 years the government, foreign policy, cultural development and welfare of the Russian people were in her hands She dealt with domestic rebellion, wars the tides of political change and violence inspired by the French Revolution Her reputation depended on the perspective of the speaker She was praised by Voltaire as like the classical philosophers She was condemned by enemies, mostly foreign, as the Messalina of the north Her family, friends, ministers, generals, lovers and enemies are vividly described These included her ambitious, scheming mother her weak, bullying husband, Peter who left her sexually untouched for nine years after their marriage her unhappy son heir, Paul her beloved grandchildren and her favorites the young men from whom she sought companionship and the recapture of youth as well as sex Here, too, is Gregory Potemkin, her most significant lover possible husband, with whom she shared a correspondence of love separation, followed by 17 years of unparalleled mutual achievement All the qualities that Massie brought to Nicholas Alexandra and Peter the Great are present historical accuracy, deep understanding, felicity of style, mastery of detail, ability to shatter myth a genius for finding and expressing a human drama.. Robert Kinloch Massie born 1929 is an American historian, writer, winner of a Pulitzer Prize, and a Rhodes Scholar.Born in Lexington, Kentucky in 1929, Massie spent much of his youth in Nashville, Tennessee and currently resides in Westchester County, New York in the village of Irvington He studied American history at Yale University and modern European history at Oxford University on his Rhodes Scholarship Massie went to work as a journalist for Newsweek from 1959 to 1964 and then took a position at the Saturday Evening Post.After he and his family left America for France, Massie wrote and published his breakthrough book, Nicholas and Alexandra, a biography of the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, his wife, Alexandra of Hesse, and their family and cultural political milieu Massie s interest in the Tsar s family was triggered by the birth of his son, the Rev Robert Kinloch Massie, who suffers from hemophilia, a hereditary disease that also afflicted the last Tsar s son, Alexei In 1971, the book was the basis of an Academy Award winning film of the same title In 1995, in his book The Romanovs The Final Chapter, Massie updated Nicholas and Alexandra with much newly discovered information.In 1975, Robert Massie and his then wife Suzanne chronicled their experiences as the parents of a hemophiliac child and the significant differences between the American and French health care systems in their jointly written book, Journey.Massie won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for Biography for Peter the Great His Life and World This book inspired a 1986 NBC mini series that won three Emmy Awards, Peter the Great TV Series and starred Maximilian Schell, Laurence Olivier and Vanessa Redgrave.. A viral Book Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman FROM THE MEMOIRS OF CATHERINE THE GREATFirst things first: that wasn’t my real name. The Empress Elizabeth, who was Peter the Great’s daughter (now, that is a man who truly deserves “the Great” after his name!), changed my name to Ekaterina when she converted me into the Russian Orthodox religion. As for that superfluous title that follows my new name, it was prematurely bestowed on me by the Legislative Commission that I convened to give Russia a more enlightened legal code (more on this later). I brought them together to study laws, and they were busy discussing my virtues instead. Imagine that! I still blush with embarrassment whenever I recall the incident, although I cannot say that I’m thoroughly displeased with it. My real name is Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg. Yes --- I was a German import. Many Romanov royals, including my future husband Tsar Peter III, are actually Germans, specifically Prussians. This caused some awkwardness later when we went to war against Prussia in my reign --- but that was still far in the future. Papa was the ruler of the Anhalt-Zerbst principality. Some people would call him a minor aristocrat, but he was still a prince, nein? Mama was formerly a princess of the house of Holstein-Gottorp (yes, that’s where those lovely cows come from), whose late brother was affianced to the young Empress Elizabeth. He died of smallpox before the wedding, but Elizabeth never forgot him, and when it was time to look for a spouse for the Tsarevich, she naturally turned toward his family. I was all of 14 years old when Elizabeth summoned Mama and me to Russia to marry Peter III. I was just a tiny slip of a girl then! The entirety of my trousseau consisted of three old dresses, a dozen chemises, a few pair of stockings and a few handkerchiefs. You see, Mama had spent all of the money that the empress sent for me on her own wardrobe. That’s Mama for you. Soon after my wedding, Elizabeth unceremoniously sent her back home for being a meddlesome mother-in-law and a clumsy Prussian secret agent. I never saw her again for the rest of my life.That’s my husband. As you can see, he’s not much of a catch, but he’s still Peter the Great’s only surviving grandson, and that’s who I married --- the future Tsar of all the Russias. Peter was a sickly man-child who would rather play with his toy soldiers on our marital bed than with me. He was not allowed to play with them during the day, so they were hidden under the bed. As soon as we were both in bed, Madame Krause, our nanny/supervisor, would come in and brought out the toy soldiers. I couldn’t even move in the bed --- they were so many of them! Peter played with them until well after midnight, and every time someone knocked at the door to check on us, we had to scramble to hide the toys under the blanket. It was farcical: a newly married couple constantly on guard lest they be caught playing with toys. But the Empress Elizabeth was not amused when, years into our marriage, we had not produced the heir that she was expecting from us.The fact is that my husband never touched me for the first nine years of our marriage. There was a lot of speculation as to the reason why. He openly told me that he was in love with another woman --- one of my ladies in waiting --- but it seemed that the relationship was similarly unconsummated. Others speculated that he was just simply too physically and mentally immature to father a child. Some of our learned doctors even diagnosed him with phimosis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phimosis). Sergei Saltykov, the first of my twelve lovers (oh, how handsome he was!), convinced him to have an operation to correct the condition. You see, once Sergei was involved with me, he became anxious of his own safety. What if I got pregnant? But if Peter had been known to be able to consummate our marriage, who could say that Sergei was responsible? It turned out that my paramour was unnecessarily worried: the empress herself had instructed her minions to provide me with a more reliable male for the purposes of begetting an heir --- and Sergei was one of those considered! Anyway, I soon fell pregnant, resulting in Paul, the long-awaited Romanov heir.Many people claimed to see a marked resemblance between my son and my husband, not just in looks, but also in their shared hobby of playing soldier. But whenever I wanted to needle my son, I always said that Sergei Saltykov was his father. We never got on well, Paul and I, perhaps because I rarely saw him during his childhood. The Empress Elizabeth whisked him away right after he was born, smothered him with frustrated maternal love and casted me aside. When my first grandson was born, I contemplated bypassing Paul altogether and make him Tsar Alexander I, but it was not to happen.After the empress passed way, Peter briefly got to be Tsar, before he was forcibly deposed by the army, who made me empress instead. Peter idolized Frederick II, the Prussian king who was at war with us, and wanted to make peace with him. The patriotic Russian people hated this radical change in foreign policy and casted their lot with me instead. My then boyfriend, Grigory Orlov (that’s him below, by the way --- isn’t he dashing?), and his brother made sure that Peter was mysteriously dispatched soon after, and I got to gloriously rally the Russian people on horseback wearing the uniform of a colonel of the Preobrazhensky Regiment. Boyfriend#3The reign of Catherine II officially begins!I believed in the strong Russian motherland and added many territories, 520,000 km2 in all, to Peter the Great’s empire. When he was only able to gain a toehold in the south, I completed his conquest by defeating the ailing Turks (and gaining a warm water port, so crucial for Russia, in the process). The former Ottoman territories around the Black Sea, the Ukraine, and Crimea (which the love of my life, Grigory Potemkin, administered as my Viceroy) became Russian possessions. I also partitioned Poland, after putting my second lover, Stanislaus Poniatowski, on the throne of that country (poor sweetie, he actually didn’t want to be king, imagine that!). Boyfriend#2 On the home front, I tried my best to drag Russia into the modern age. Eighteen years of boredom and loneliness as an unhappily married woman gave me the opportunity to read many books. I imbibed the best ideas of the Aufklarung through the writings of M. Montesquieu (whose ideas I pillaged for the Nakaz, the new legal code that I envisioned for Russia), Mr. John Locke (what is more important than our children’s education, especially our girls?) and Signore Beccaria (torture is barbaric!). I corresponded with the best minds in France, including M. Voltaire (he called me “The Star of the North” --- such a sweet man!) and M. Diderot, whose work on his Encyclopedie I supported, and whose library I purchased --- on the condition that he got to keep it during his lifetime as I thought that it would be so cruel to separate a scholar from his books. M. Diderot actually visited me in St. Petersburg to express his gratitude, the poor sickly man. Unfortunately, many of these progressive ideas proved to be far too advanced for the country, and I had to reassert my absolute powers as the autocrat of all the Russias to prevent the total collapse of the social order, particularly during the savage Pugachev rebellion. That rough Cossack pretended to be my long dead husband --- what insolence! The Benevolent Despot in actionFinally, I must say for myself that as a sovereign I wanted nothing other than what was good for my country, and that I had employed all the powers on my disposal to bring happiness, liberty and prosperity for my subjects. I am aware, however, that I have a number of detractors, who do not hesitate to concoct lies and outright fabrications to sully my good name. They alleged, for example, that the so-called “Potemkin Villages” deceived me during my visit to the Crimea in 1787. My darling Grigory (below --- mwah, mwah!) might have put some fresh paint on some of the settlements that we passed through, but he did not construct whole made-up villages for my benefit. And even if he did, do you think that they could have fooled me, and my whole entourage, which included courtiers, foreign diplomats and even Emperor Joseph II? Boyfriend#5And as for that unspeakable, much more egregious fabrication--- let us just say that some men were troubled by the fact that there was an accomplished, powerful woman on the throne and would stop at nothing to slander her. Besides, I had had twelve handsome young men at my beck and call --- what would I need a horse for?
Catherine the Great Biography, Facts, Accomplishments At age she was chosen to be the wife of Karl Ulrich, duke of Holstein Gottorp, grandson of Peter the Great and heir to the throne of Russia as the grand duke Peter In Catherine arrived in Russia, assumed the title of Grand Duchess Catherine Alekseyevna, and Catherine the Great Official Website for the Series HBO Amid scandal, intrigue and immense conflict, Russian empress Catherine the Great Helen Mirren develops a unique and devoted relationship with Grigory Potemkin Jason Clarke as they overcome their adversaries and serve as the architects of modern day Russia. Catherine the Great TV Series Oct , Amidst scandal, intrigue and immense conflict, Russian Czarina Catherine the Great Dame Helen Mirren develops a unique and devoted relationship with Grigory Potemkin Jason Clarke BBC History Catherine the Great Catherine the Great Catherine II was Empress of Russia for than years and one of the country s most influential rulers Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt Zerbst was born on Biography of Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia Jul , Catherine the Great May , Nov , was empress of Russia from to , the longest reign of any female Russian leader She expanded Russia s borders to the Black Sea and into central Europe during her reign. Who Was Catherine the Great Catherine the Great True Story Though she s now widely remembered as Catherine the Great, she was born Sophie von Anhalt Zerbst in , and grew up in an impoverished but noble family with

  1. Robert Kinloch Massie born 1929 is an American historian, writer, winner of a Pulitzer Prize, and a Rhodes Scholar.Born in Lexington, Kentucky in 1929, Massie spent much of his youth in Nashville, Tennessee and currently resides in Westchester County, New York in the village of Irvington He studied American history at Yale University and modern European history at Oxford University on his Rhodes Scholarship Massie went to work as a journalist for Newsweek from 1959 to 1964 and then took a position at the Saturday Evening Post.After he and his family left America for France, Massie wrote and published his breakthrough book, Nicholas and Alexandra, a biography of the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, his wife, Alexandra of Hesse, and their family and cultural political milieu Massie s interest in the Tsar s family was triggered by the birth of his son, the Rev Robert Kinloch Massie, who suffers from hemophilia, a hereditary disease that also afflicted the last Tsar s son, Alexei In 1971, the book was the basis of an Academy Award winning film of the same title In 1995, in his book The Romanovs The Final Chapter, Massie updated Nicholas and Alexandra with much newly discovered information.In 1975, Robert Massie and his then wife Suzanne chronicled their experiences as the parents of a hemophiliac child and the significant differences between the American and French health care systems in their jointly written book, Journey.Massie won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for Biography for Peter the Great His Life and World This book inspired a 1986 NBC mini series that won three Emmy Awards, Peter the Great TV Series and starred Maximilian Schell, Laurence Olivier and Vanessa Redgrave.

601 Reply to “Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman”

  1. FROM THE MEMOIRS OF CATHERINE THE GREATFirst things first that wasn t my real name The Empress Elizabeth, who was Peter the Great s daughter now, that is a man who truly deserves the Great after his name , changed my name to Ekaterina when she converted me into the Russian Orthodox religion As for that superfluous title that follows my new name, it was prematurely bestowed on me by the Legislative Commission that I convened to give Russia a enlightened legal code on this later I brought them t [...]


  2. Like probably every woman of note in history, open about and unashamed of her sexuality, Catherine the Great is primarily remembered as a power and man hungry, salacious, perverted woman Try googling her name and see how high on the list of the results is the ever pressing question Did she really sleep with a horse Does anyone care about her accomplishments in politics, art and science Not really But her sexual exploits Oh, YES That s why I appreciate Robert K Massie s Catherine the Great Portra [...]


  3. Firstly, to answer your most pressing question regarding Catherine the Great, the Empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796 No, she did not die having sex with a horse.Moreover, if you have an abiding interest in the origins of this rumor, Robert K Massie s Catherine the Great Portrait of a Woman will not satiate your deviant interest it certainly didn t satisfy mine Massie refuses to engage the slander born during her own lifetime at any level.Thus, there is not one sentence of horse sex in nearly 60 [...]


  4. My ongoing exploration of biographies has pushed into yet another realm women of power What better way to begin than with a woman who held much power in her time and about whom I know very little Bring on Catherine the Great of Russia Robert K Massie does a sensational job of pulling out a strong and well rounded story of this most interesting Empress of Russia She faced hurdles and impediments throughout her life, but always found a way to succeed While Massie offers the reader numerous parts t [...]



  5. Catherine the Great Portrait of a Woman by Robert K Massie is the extraordinary story of an obscure young German princess who travelled to Russia at the tender age of fourteen and rose to become one of the most powerful, and captivating women in history.I had previously read Massie s Nicholas and Alexandra which was wonderful and I was really interested in reading about Catherine the Great.Massie did extensive research on this book It is Catherine s detailed and excellent memoirs and letters fro [...]


  6. This one was clearly a win for me as a biography of Catherine the Great Massie s writing is clear, brisk and kept the story moving throughout What I really enjoyed was how he took the time and trouble to show how Catherine carried forward the reforms begun by Peter the Great, and was a monarch who overcame a great deal of adversity to overcome the obstacles of not being Russian, being a woman, and a usurper to boot most biographies focus on her time before becoming empress and or her lovers whil [...]


  7. I am impressed Catherine the Great lived from 1729 1796 She was 14 when she first came to Russia, This book covers this entire time period meticulously I understand how her childhood experiences came to shape her as an adult I understand her need for love and why she came to have twelve lovers At the same time she was motivated to seek power She played a huge role in European history All of this history is detailed in the book You meet her as a person and as a leader Everything one could possibl [...]


  8. Whew What a densely loaded book about a fascinating woman If you have an interest in Catherine the Great, this is most definitely a biography to add to your repertoire When the audiobook has 19 chapters which are just over an hour in length you know you are getting your book s worth of material My interest is still piqued in Russian history and this woman I also appreciated the time devoted to her predecessor Elizabeth, her sort of technically uncoronated predecessor Peter, as well as the Enligh [...]


  9. This book is hard to place on a scale At times, it s a 5 and other times it s a 2 or even a 1 After some debating in my head I m going to give it a 3.5, but it s not enough to round it up to a 4 This book started off as a 5 and I loved it The story of Catherine then Sophia growing up, being picked as the bride for the heir to the Russian Empire, and her years spent in Russia was great Massie interspaced entries from her own memoirs into these years and it really added a great personal flavor to [...]


  10. She sat on the throne of Peter the Great and ruled an empire, the largest on earth Her signature, inscribed on a decree, was law and, if she chose, could mean life or death for any one of her twenty million subjects She was intelligent, well read, and a shrewd judge of character During the coup, she had shown determination and courage once on the throne, she displayed an open mind, willingness to forgive, and a political morality founded on rationality and practical efficiency She softened imper [...]


  11. This engaging and well researched historical tome about one of Russia s greatest rulers merits 4 full stars Apart from painting a memorable and respectable portrait of the dramatic life of Catherine the Great, the book also accounts succinctly for the labyrinth of European Eurasian politics at play in the 18th century, and depicts Russia s participation in the Seven Years War, its carving up of Poland, its two major Wars with Turkey and its putting down the Pugachev Rebellion.As a child German p [...]


  12. Maybe this book is very excellent at what it wanted to be, but I wanted it to be something different I wanted a history book.1 In trying to be accessible, the prose comes off as simplistic at times 2 A quibble is the repetition of statements from only a few chapters prior Those statements do help set the scene for the current action, but are sometimes overdone and unnecessary if the reader had been paying any attention at all to what was just recently covered.3 At one point in the book towards t [...]


  13. his the biography of Catherine the Great written by Robert K Massie.In reality, her birthday s name was Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt Zerbst Dornburg.Her father, Christian August, Prince of Anhalt Zerbst was a German prince of the House of Ascania He was a ruler of the Principality of Anhalt Dornburg.Her mother, Joanna Elisabeth of Holstein Gottorp was a princess of the House of Holstein Gottorp and later the Princess of Anhalt Zerbst.By being born in Stettin a small principality called A [...]


  14. This is a beautiful and very readable biography of one of the most fascinating and influential women in history The author did not limit his book to Catherine s story nor to her family and the Russian imperial line but included many important figures from the Russian political world and the wider European courts and culture for example wonderful cameos of Voltaire and Diderot In this way, Massie successfully provides a 360 degree view of historical period in which Catherine lived and an enjoyabl [...]


  15. Robert K Massie does a convincing effort to tell us Catherine the great, or the tale of how a small German princess became one of the greatest monarch during the Enlightenment era.Born to a low noble German family, Catherine s life got turned upside down when she was betrothed to Paul I, the adopted son of Empress Elizabeth of Russia However, the betrothal and subsequent marriage was not a happy one, and due to the eccentric behaviour of Paul I she was quickly able to seize the throne in 1762.Wh [...]


  16. Historical Fictionistas Group Read starting 1Feb15 Started reading this in February, got roughly 30 pages in and put it down Found the audio through my library and I m SO GLAD I did, otherwise I might never have finished this Not because it s boring, but because the research is simply EXHAUSTIVE If you re interested in Russian history, I highly recommend this book It s my first Massie book but I have two waiting at home thankfully shorter than this one He presents history from all angles you ge [...]


  17. Sophia, daughter of humble Prince Augustus of Anhalt Zerbst, Prussia, spends an lonely childhood, unloved by a scheming mother, recommended by Frederick the Great and subsequently summoned to Russia by Empress Elizabeth, married to the heir Peter III also a German who would not consummate the marriage for 9 years, produces an heir to the throne just who is the father , then relegated to the background, eventually forces her unbalanced husband to abdicate while she assumes the throne of Russia, t [...]


  18. I raved about Robert Massie s biography on last Russian tsar and tsarina, Nicholas and Alexandra, and it was one of my favourite reads last year In it, Massie briefly mentioned that Peter the Great had abolished the law of primogeniture, which required succession of the throne to be male only, starting with the first born son As a result, Russia had three empresses in succession Anna Ioannovna, Elizabeth Petrovna, and Catherine II The latter two rose to become autocrat through seizing power from [...]


  19. I wish Robert Massie had written this book before my trip to Russia in 2008 One thing I was looking forward to seeing on that trip was Catherine s Palace and The Amber Room Of course, I also visited The Hermitage and between these settings, I did get to see some the incredible art collection that Catherine amassed during her reign Ah, but there is so much to this woman Robert K Massie certainly delivers on the subtitle of his book The Portrait of a Woman particularly in the opening chapters whe [...]


  20. I just finished this biography of Catherine the Great and I have to say it was riveting a real page turner I didn t want it to end even after 570 pages of it The author won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Peter the Great the famed European style reformer who made Russia a great power His writing is so engaging that I couldn t put this book down Catherine s story is remarkable She was an obscure German princess of a tiny principality who rose to become the Empress of Russia no Emperor by th [...]



  21. Mr Massie has again brought one of the members of the ruling dynasty of Russia to life He draws a complex picture of the woman who became known as Catherine the Great She however resisted using the term Great and preferred to referred to as Catherine II.Massie starts his narrative with Catherine then known as Sofia, a minor German princess, and the maneuverings of her mother to get her married off She ends up traveling with her mother to the court of Elizabeth of Russia as a potential bride for [...]


  22. Massie s research into the life of Catherine II is extensive for example, he used three different translations of her Memoirs and wide ranging and the writing style is engaging enough to almost make one forget this is a nearly 600 page book it s the weight that gives it away.While I knew something about her life, there was much I hadn t and was fascinated to learn I knew she was a German princess, but not that it was of some small, unimportant state I knew she and her mother didn t get along, bu [...]


  23. I was surprised how interesting I found this book to be I had no particular interest in Catherine the Great and the only reason I read it was to reinforce my knowledge of history in preparation for a trip to Europe to trace the route of my wife s ancestors migrations Their movements included a number of years in both southern Poland and Ukraine, both regions are within the sphere of influence of Catherine s Russian Empire Since I didn t know that much about Catherine, I was easily surprised by n [...]


  24. She sat on the throne of Peter the Great and ruled an empire, the largest on earth Sophia Augusta Fredericka of Anhalt Zerbst was born into a minor German noble family on 21 April 1729 Sophia was brought to Russia as a teenager, converted to Orthodoxy, renamed Catherine, and married off by the Empress Elizabeth Petrovna to her nephew and heir Peter As Catherine II, she was Empress of Russia from 28 June 1762 until her death on 6 November 1796 She came to power following a coup d tat and the assa [...]


  25. 3.5I want to give this four stars, but I can t Not even rounding up can I.That being said, it s not a bad book at all I knew next to nothing about Catherine the Great besides that she overthrew her husband and had him assassinated, then also had a ton of lovers That s it I didn t even know about the whole horse rumor, which still is weird Where they got that rumor from, who knows.I learned so much about her, and also about Russia The most I knew about Russia is focused around the last Romanovs, [...]


  26. Because I read Massie s book at the same time I read Romanovs by Simon Montefiore, this is a duplicate review of the one that appears in my section of Montefiore s book.I might be as in love with Catherine the Great as Trump is with Putin Good thing a she isn t alive now and b I am not the ruler of our country Otherwise I might resemble both Trump and Catherine s foolish husband Peter Trump is so enad with Putin and perhaps being blackmailed by him too that he seems to have made choices about ou [...]


  27. A flowing, engaging portrait of a remarkable person Curiously, around mid book, the author gets repetitive, as if the manuscript proofreader lost a section, then Massie gets right back into the groove.Monarchy is always an interesting subject We all fantasize at some point about what life would be like if we were fabulously rich and powerful The history of monarchies gives us many examples of this wish becoming reality and it isn t comforting When we look back on it we can see that those born to [...]


  28. She was born Sophia Anhalt Zerbst, a German The Empress Elizabeth of Russia selected her at age 14 by to marry her nephew, Peter, the heir to the throne Highly intelligent, raven haired, beautiful, engaging, and outgoing, she first delighted the Russian court by learning the language She converted from Lutheran to Orthodox, taking the name Ekaterina Catherine She did not love her husband to be, nor did he love her But that had nothing to do with her ambition she determined early on to become emp [...]


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