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550 of 569 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Massie Does It Again!
I really enjoyed this biography of Catherine the Great. Like Robert K. Massie's other biographies, *Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman* is well-researched and well-written. His deep connection and understanding of the ways of Imperial Russia are strangely effortless. He steps into his subject's world and takes us there, too.

I was immediately struck by...
Published on September 25, 2011 by Kayla Rigney

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204 of 244 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A merely good book on a great subject
Tackling Catherine the Great is not, and never has been, for the faint of heart. There is a heavy shelf filled with works by the eminent and the colorful, by Oldenberg, Troyat, and others, and there is fascinating original material available as well. But it is no good to praise someone for their Alpine skill when they climb the Himalayas - they have chosen the tougher...
Published on November 8, 2011 by Sam A. Mawn-Mahlau


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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating woman, October 12, 2013
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An interesting historical story. She was one of the visionary women who helped forge the future of a country. This book is on my reread list.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Recommend this book. Has it all Catherine the Great, October 11, 2013
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Reads like a novel. Filled with historical facts that astound. A 14 year old German girl who goes to Russia to marry a virtual stranger of 16 and learns Russian, endears herself to the army, the church and the people to become a great leader. She's all woman as well. Great read!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Fast Paced, October 5, 2013
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This is a fascinating account of an amazing women. There are no slow sections in this extensively researched biography of Catherine II of Russia.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great story!, September 27, 2013
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A great read, even if you're not a history buff. A terrific window into that time and place, and insight into Catherine. I read the sample and had to read the entire book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, September 25, 2013
I vacationed in Russia in April and visited most of the places described in this book. I am a great fan of historical fiction. Mr. Massie transformed historical facts into a living biography of Catherine's life and her place in Russian history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Full-Bodied and Passionate, Like Catherine Herself, September 22, 2013
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Beverly Diehl (Sherman Oaks, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman (Hardcover)
An incredibly deep (and long) work about an incredibly deep, powerful, and long-lived woman who was Empress of one of the largest countries in the world. The book is roughly chronological, each chapter focusing on some aspect of Catherine's (nee Sophia) life and relationships, though there is much overlap. For example, in the chapters about Catherine and the Enlightenment, it discusses the 15+ years she corresponded with Voltaire. Obviously, during that time she was also Doing Other Things.

As the subtitle "Portrait of a Woman" reflects, it is more about who Catherine was as am intelligent, proud, and passionate woman, rather than a listing of dates and significant historical events, though those are slipped in there, too. Her affairs and marriage(s?) are discussed at length, her tenuous relationship with her oldest son and tightrope relationship with Empress Elizabeth, who preceded her.

It's rich and meaty, and I found it fascinating just how much influence one woman's drive and personality could have, not just upon the country she ruled, but on the countries she battled and allied with.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, September 22, 2013
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A great combination of the personal and political, spanning the seven decades of the empress's life. And highly illuminating about Russia today.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great glimpse into Prussian/Russian History during Catherine's reign, September 16, 2013
I grew up in the Prussian capital of Berlin. For many English speaking folks the closeness of these two names appears baffling yet it is simply a mere coincidence. As many of you may know Prussia stands for Preussen and has had its glory days under Friedrich II or Friedrich Der Grosse (the great) as he is known in the German language.

Sophia Fredericka a girl who grew up on Prussian territory is sent to Russia by her selfish and greedy mother, first to St. Petersburg and then to Moscow. It is a Cinderella story with many dark nuances. A young woman who grew up by a Protestant father who treated her well was brought into the Russian territory at a very young age of 14 years old by her non loving mother to marry someone she has never met. Sophia Frederica was a very smart young girl and was very ambitious. Yet her passion for Russia made her the Catherine the Great. She did fall in love with the Russian people, learned its language quicker than perhaps many students today at that tender age, eager to learn everything about Russian culture and its religion. She also took Russian interest over her own roots. She would not side easily with the Prussian crown and developed great relationships with Great Britain and Austria (which was an enemy of Prussia at that time) ruled then also by a great woman called Maria Theresa.

The events and turmoil are very well researched and written in a way that is impossible to stop reading. This woman brought greatness to Russia and modernized it in many ways. She gained respect by many people and yet many people solely abused her trust. The many affairs she pursued especially with younger men at her later age probably just filled a void she must have felt during her first years in Russia and during her marriage with Peter who was a sadistic and ugly person (bulging eyes and later scarred by smallpox).
It is a well-researched book but most importantly it is a book about a woman, her emotions, passion, conflicts and ambitions to be a good ruler. The reader can follow a person through history, feeling everything Catherine must have felt. The beginning may be a bit tedious but necessary to follow the story. Yet it will not disappoint.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great biography, September 16, 2013
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Simone Roisman (New York, New York, US) - See all my reviews
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Very interesting to read about the life of this very unique and brave woman that ruled Russia for years and years
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insight, September 14, 2013
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Jaggy (Houston, Texas) - See all my reviews
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Enjoyable exploration of the woman behind the crown. I found it interesting to see her attitudes and Russian history in the wider context of Europe, but at times was overwhelmed by theologies of intrigue and wars.
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Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie (Hardcover - November 8, 2011)
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