Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great

[portrait of A Woman]

Downloadable Audiobook - 2011
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"The extraordinary story of an obscure young German princess who traveled to Russia at fourteen and rose to become one of the most remarkable, powerful, and captivating women in history. Born into a minor noble family, Catherine transformed herself into Empress of Russia by sheer determination. Possessing a brilliant mind and an insatiable curiosity as a young woman, she devoured the works of Enlightenment philosophers and, when she reached the throne, attempted to use their principles to guide her rule of the vast and backward Russian empire" -- from publisher's web site.
Publisher: Westminster, Md. : Books on Tape, p2011
ISBN: 9780307970220
Characteristics: 1 online resource (1 sound file) : digital
Additional Contributors: Deakins, Mark
OverDrive, Inc


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Aug 17, 2018

Well, this is going down as one of my all-time favorite biographies. Fascinating person, beautifully written, and dense with eye-opening stories. Highly recommended for anyone who loves biographies, political history, or anyone curious why history calls this time the Catherinian Era/why is she known as 'great'/why she only referred to herself as Catherine II or simply, Little Mother.

Epic, powerful, intense, and intimate: I'm referring to both her and the book.

Nov 29, 2017

Catherine was amazing! Complicated and contradictory!

May 13, 2017

My rating has nothing to do with the research provided in this book nor of the writing. Even the narration is impeccable. I chose this book looking for the reasoning behind the title "the Great." The revelation that was provided to me had less to do with Catherine and more with the ineptitude of Peter III. In all my historical study, the price rulers were willing to pay to establish a dynasty always seems to border on obsessive to the point of insanity. Such was the case with Elizabeth Petrovna in naming Peter III as her heir. The fact that Catherine deposed her husband and saved Russia from becoming Prussian, despite her German heritage, perhaps makes her worthy of being called "the Great. However, where the book lost points with me was in providing in-depth information regarding her paramours. Every history student knows about the machinations involved with passion and seduction in circles of power. Hence, three stars, but I do appreciate the confirmation of my staunch belief that women are just as capable as heads-of-state as men, even if they suffer from the same frailties of ego.

TSCPL_MichelleS Jun 01, 2016

This book is quite amazing - it is so dense and intimidating yet somehow the author manages to lay out a complex history and personal narrative in a way that is understandable and easily followed. I knew practically nothing about Catherine the Great/18th century Europe before beginning this book, but through the skill of Massie I had no trouble making my way through this fascinating work. Catherine the Great was simultaneously powerful on the continent, but extremely vulnerable in her personal life. A great read! One note: this is a large book/long audiobook and may need to be renewed past the original due date to finish.

Cdnbookworm Jun 12, 2013

This biography is extensive and covers many aspects of Catherine's life and reign. She was born a minor Prussian princess and was named Sophie. She was born in 1729, and brought to Russia by the Empress Elizabeth as the potential bride for her nephew Peter (later Peter III). She was only 14, and was expected to marry as she was told. She had to convert to the Orthodox religion, against her father's wishes. Her husband Peter III, was a immature and many believe the marriage was never consummated. Catherine did have three children, but they are all believed to be illegitimate. She came to power in 1762 as a result of a coup d'etat, and what is believed to be an assassination of her husband Peter III. She was definitely more knowledgeable about politics, foreign affairs, and culture than Peter, although he was fascinated by the military, playing with toy soldiers even after their marriage.
This book covers her early life, her betrothal and marriage to Peter and how she gained the love and respect of the Russian people. Her lovers, her political maneuverings, the wars she was involved in, are all covered here. We see how she became Europe's biggest art collector, beginning a collection that eventually became that of the Hermitage Museum. We discover her interest in the enlightenment and her high goals for change in the country. Some of these she found she could not accomplish, such as the abolishment of serfdom, others took longer than she anticipated. Ruling until her death in 1796, she is still known along with Peter the Great, as one of Russia's best rulers. She expanded the Russian empire to the Crimea, into Poland, and the far east. She initiated lengthy correspondences with Voltaire, Diderot, and other members of the Enlightenment. She was an early adopter of inoculations against disease and was herself inoculated against smallpox as an example to her people. She was also a strong proponent of education for the people.
I found this book fascinating. Catherine was an extremely interesting woman.


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