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

Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie
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really liked it
bookshelves: biography, borrowed-from-library, history, nonfiction, women

What I knew about Catherine going into this book: She was a man-hungry woman who died while having sex with a horse.

This book was 100% effective in disproving all of my Catherine knowledge. She was a wise, witty, and educated leader who used every awful experience delivered by her AWFUL childhood/teen-hood/20s-hood to get what she wanted. She loved philosophy and the arts. She was just as progressively minded -- if not more so -- than her peers at the time. And her lovers gained attention not because of existence or number, but because they were younger.

Massie's extensive research is evident. You read about how things officially happened, and then he uses letters and accounts from Catherine and others to learn about how things probably happened.

The war history passages were hard for me to get through, because that isn't my thing. And it's not really necessary to understand all of it in depth in order to see what the victory/defeat delivered. So don't feel bad about not committing it all to memory. The number of other characters is overwhelming, but you eventually remember the major players.

Massie ends his acknowledgements in this touching fashion: "Finally, I must acknowledge the extraordinary pleasure I have had in the company of the remarkable woman who has been my subject. After eight years of having her a constant presence in my life, I shall miss her."

This was an "I *should* read this" book rather than an "I *want* to read this" book. I'm very glad I read it anyway, because even at over 500 pages, it was a treat.

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Reading Progress

December 31, 2015 – Shelved
December 31, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
January 10, 2016 – Shelved as: biography
January 10, 2016 – Shelved as: borrowed-from-library
January 24, 2016 – Started Reading
January 25, 2016 –
January 27, 2016 –
36.0% "What a soap opera! The history part is a bit tough to slog through, but it's worth it."
January 28, 2016 –
51.0% "Go Cathy go! (also, go Kim go, because I have only 4 days left on the loan)"
January 30, 2016 – Finished Reading
January 31, 2016 – Shelved as: history
January 31, 2016 – Shelved as: nonfiction
January 31, 2016 – Shelved as: women

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