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

Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie
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's review
Mar 23, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: biography
Recommended to Kaye by: Costco
Read in March, 2012

I really learned a lot about a person who was just a name in history to me. Catherine was a minor German princess who ended up Empress of Russia at a very pivotal time. I didn't realize that she was Empress during the French Revolution, the American Revolution etc. etc. The book lays out her childhood and then teenage marriage to the nephew and heir to the throne of Russia. The marriage wasn't ideal and the book seems to go on and on about the various lovers in her life. Some men were very worthy of mention because they impacted her life by the help with the military or controlling uprisings. Others I didn't really need to know about. I also didn't realize that she essentially took control of Russia from her husband after the Empress Elizabeth died. I thought the first half of the book was more compelling. Would she have children and by whom. How would she get to be the leader. The second half focused on things that she did as a ruler. I learned about her friendship and admiration of Voltaire, the plight of surfs and how she amassed the fabulous art collection that is now The Hermitage. The book isn't written chronologically so I would find myself reading about someone who had died earlier but was now back in the story. I listened to the book which really helped with the names and pronunciations. I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys history or biographies or wants to learn more about Russia.

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