Judy's Reviews > Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie
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Mar 05, 12

Read in March, 2012

Who wouldn't be fascinated by the story of a German princess from a minor German state who was taken to Russia at the age of 14 to marry the heir to the Russian throne--who, by the way, was also German(on his father's side and he was born in a small German state), Lutheran, and a great admirer of Frederick the Great--and ended up becoming one of the greatest rulers in Russian history? In this biography of Catherine the Great, Robert Massie is successful in portraying Catherine as a woman who took charge of her own destiny when she found herself in an impossible situation. During her 34 year reign, Catherine corresponded with some of the best-known philosophes during the Enlightenment, tried to bring reforms to Russia, was horrified by the excesses of the French Revolution, and was forced to become increasingly more conservative because of political and social conditions in Russia. Some of the historic personalities who interact with Catherine during her reign are Voltaire, Diderot, Frederick the Great, Maria Theresa, Joseph II, and John Paul Jones. Quite a varied group. Even though this book was about 600 pages, I found it hard to put down. I've read Massie's amazing biography of Peter the Great and I'm sure that I will read his other books about Russian history in the near future.
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