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304 of 308 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic work on a fascinating man
I am working on a doctorate in Russian history, and, consequently, have read many, many, books on Russia. This book is by far the best book on Russian history. Robert Massie's Peter the Great is an elegantly-written work which not only provides abundant and overflowing information about the "great" man, but which, like no other book, transports the reader...
Published on February 13, 2000 by Amazon Customer

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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Peter the Great
This is well written and carries the reader along. It is not just about Peter the Great, but tells a lot about what was happening in Europe at the same time. I was a little frustrated that we didn't learn more about what was happening in Russia during all those years when Peter was off learning shipbuilding, making war, laying siege....I wanted to know how the Russian...
Published on November 7, 2006 by B. Rogers


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece and epic in it's telling, July 16, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Peter the Great: His Life and World (Paperback)
This volume is simply one of the very best, most exciting, interesting, and highly charged biographies I have read. Fortunately for me, a pending visit to Saint Petersburg provided me with the motivation to pull this twenty four-year-old 1st Edition copy from my bookshelf. Its 850 pages had seemed a daunting task no matter how many people had recommended this as a "must read". Robert Massie has created a masterpiece of story telling. Each chapter is the equivalent of a short story and compelling in it's own right. And each is presented with an introduction that places you, the reader, in context. Massie also places you both in Peter the Great's time but populates his world with many other sovereigns and characters of interesting historical note. Most notably a large part of the book is devoted to King Charles XII of Sweden. Upon completion of this wonderful book I had a much better understanding of Russia, the Baltic States history and the origins of may Russian cultural traits. Peter the Great was a massive personality who's impact was both awful for those he ruled and passed judgement on, and visionary for pushing Russia into a modern and westernized nation. Overall, the book reads like an epic Russian Novel, deep in character study, action, adventure, and compelling social observation. Massie is just an excellent writer. I highly recommend this book as others have recommended it to me.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story of a Great Man, June 6, 2003
By 
Chris Caldara (Hackettstown NJ) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Peter the Great: His Life and World (Paperback)
This without a doubt the finest book I have ever read. Massie brings to life one of the greatest figures in history. From Peter's early life+fascination with all things Western to the building of a huge Empire second only to that of England. The most fascinating part of the book are the chapters dealing w/The Great Embassy to Western Europe. Not only does trying to imagine a 6'7 inch Absolute Monarch trying to remain incognito bring a smile to you face,the Embassy gives Massie a chance to broaden the scope of Peter's story by giving snippets regarding the other great monarchs of the time. Louis XIV,William I,George I+most importantly Charles XII of Sweden whose Empire paid the price for Peter's ambition's. All are brought vividly to life. Most importantly he deals with the conflicted Man that was Peter the Great in a way I have seen no other author do with a subject. Peter was great man+ruler,but he also had a fierce temper+could he almost sadistically brutal. In giving us a portrait of a man--warts+all--Massie succeds in humanizing a Great Man. I cannot recommend this book high enough
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best biography of this century, May 26, 2000
By 
Charlene Vickers (Winnipeg, Manitoba) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Peter the Great: His Life and World (Paperback)
Peter the Great was a complex, even contradictory character. An all-powerful despot who preferred carpentry to war; a violent spouse-abuser who ensured his wife would rule as Autocrat after his death; a loving father who caused the death of his only son; Peter was all of these. Yet he was also a glittering figure on the international stage, a daredevil, a father to his people, and the most hated, respected, and loved man in Europe.
Who better to explain the psychology and the life of such a man than Robert Massie? Massie is a superb storyteller, capable of making even the most complex and abstruse points understandable to the average reader. He makes Peter come to life, not as a dry, dusty historical character but as a wonderfully alive, supremely dangerous man -- a man you'd love to meet but one you'd hate to have to live under.
I strongly recommend this book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible book! Highly recommended!, June 6, 2001
This review is from: Peter the Great: His Life and World (Paperback)
Peter the Great... was just that, GREAT! To say that I enjoyed this book is a bit of an understatement. Robert K. Massie wrote a historical account of one of the most fascinating characters in the modern age and wrote it to read like a novel. When I first bought this book, I had just gotten back from a trip to St. Petersburg and was blown away by this incredible place and I was interested to `read-up' on the man behind the creation. I found that this book was all that and more. History, will always be subjective but Mr. Massie did `Peter the Great' justice by not only telling us of his positives characteristics (he tried and succeeded in bringing Russia to the modern age) but also allowing us to see his negative characteristics (volatile temper and estranged family connections). I recommend this book to anyone (in fact, I have given it as a gift on two occasions) and now I'm reading some of his other books
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST BOOK I EVER READ!!, September 8, 2004
By 
Carin NY (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Peter the Great: His Life and World (Paperback)
I majored in Russian History in college, so I've always had an interest in the subject and always intended to find a good book on Peter the Great. This book far exceeded my expectations. Not only is it a fascinating, in-depth portrait of one of the greatest leaders in Russian history - it succeeds on every level as a compelling read, whether you're interested in Russian history or not. Massie is a masterful writer - providing all the context information you need to fully understand the specifics of Peter's life and reign. Every stage of Peter's life is gripping, from the story of how he wrested power from his half-sister Sophia to his military battles against Sweden. (I'm not even interested in military history, but during the war chapters, my heart was pounding as I read his recounting of each battle!) Not only is this the best book on Russian history I've ever read, it's the best book I've ever read! It's a real page-turner, and that's saying something as this book is over 800 pages long!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A biography that reads like an outstanding novel, June 26, 1998
I was ridiculed by my friends when I exited a bookstore with a copy of Peter the Great in my hands. Ridicule all they want but after reading this gargantuan book I was certain this was the best book I had ever read. Massie's description of Peter's life and of Russian society in the early 1700 bring to life ghosts long since gone. Massie brings history to life, the friendships, the deceits, love affairs, diplomacy etc. Massie's Peter the Great is much more than the biography of one man, it tells the story of a country's transformation from one of the most backward states of Europe to one of it's forerunners. It also explains in great length the going ons all over Europe in the time of Peter. Peter the Great, always interesting, always fun to read, reads more like a novel than a biography. That's one reason why I always recommend it to people regardless of wether the person likes or loathes history.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning and comprehensive., March 22, 2003
By 
Jared M (New Zealand) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Peter the Great: His Life and World (Paperback)
Peter the Great:His Life and World is an magnificient biography, I wish they all were like this. Impeccably researched and written, Massie reveals life in the Russian Royal Court in the time of Peter the Great. Massie's writing style is generally easy reading, but it will still take many evenings to complete this book.
Personalities abound throughout the telling of one of the greatest of all Tsars. What really stands out about this particular book, is that while the book is really about Peter, Massie allows the flow of the book to follow personalties of the time as they enter and exit Peter's world. So as well as learning about Peter, I learnt of Charles' rivalry with the Russian leader, and the battles they fought; Tolstoy, the ambassador to the Ottoman empire, and his constant diplomatic battles with the leaders of Turkey. The Sun King of France. These are just a few examples that litter the book.
Furthermore, social and political issues of the time are discussed, some in great depth. I never realised the stuggles involved with the construction of St. Petersburg, the workers dealing with both the [danger] of the Swedish Army and Navy, as well as the marshes on which the city was built. That the establishment of the Russian Navy was initiated by Peter, was another surprise. I would have thought that a major empire such as the Russian would have already had a navy. The political intrigues between the Royal houses of Europe was another eyeopener for me.
There are always faults with any book; Peter the Great is no exception. Some details would be repeated, some to the point of numbness. How many times do we have to hear about Peter's fondness for the sea? Or the sciences? Still, many people like myself will overlook these and instead, look at the book for what it is; a stunning and comprehensive look into not only the life of Peter the Great, but the world of Eastern and Middle Europe. I began reading the book to learn the story of Peter the Great. That I got a history lesson about Europe in the 18th century is a real bonus.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robert Massie is the "master" story-teller of historians!, November 29, 2000
By 
This review is from: Peter the Great: His Life and World (Paperback)
My introduction to Robert Massie came when I first picked up a copy of Nicholas and Alexandra last Spring. Frankly I was expecting a serious history book-- In other words I expected it to be dry, dry, dry! What a great surprise to find I could not put it down. Having that great experience made it a no-brainer to read Peter the Great as well-- it was even better.
Massie's gift is in his ability to write history in a narrative style, identifying the nuances of each setting and character as well as the heros and antagonists, all while maintaining historical accuracy. No wonder we find that Massie's works have been converted into both film and mini-series.
His account of the succession of Peter to Regent Sophia's intrigues is heart stopping. You see directly into the private and public life of this unique Tsar who attempted to drag Russia into the modern era- The good the bad and the ugly. It is simply great stuff!
If you are interested in Russia, start out with Peter the Great and go on to Nicholas and Alexandra. These are both excellent books!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the great biographies, March 24, 2004
By 
Alan Greenblatt (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I've always been a great reader of novels, but reading this book a couple of years ago has made me into a reader of history. Massie has a grand subject -- Peter opened a long-sleeping Russia to the West, founded St. Petersburg (a beautiful city built, somewhat like Venice, basically on a body of water) and fought many wars. People must have kept great diaries back then because Massie is able to recreate events at court and battles from multiple points of view, lending the book a novelistic richness. Equally impressive, since the book is as much about Peter's times as it is about him, Massie pauses to include mini-essays about the many places and types of things that Peter the polymath was involved in. So you get a brief sketch of the Netherlands at the time, or about popular torture techniques of the day, that don't break up the overall narrative flow. It's a long book but a great read
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed biography of an amazing ruler..., May 1, 2000
This review is from: Peter the Great: His Life and World (Paperback)
I read this book for a history report in college, and although when I saw the size of the book I almost chose someone else to research (the book is nearly 900 pages and I usually stick to fiction), I am so glad I stuck with it. Massie seems to have overlooked nothing in this expansive biography. After reading this book, I felt like I had a complete grasp on late 17th/early 18th century Europe, and I found myself telling my roomates anecdotes about Peter and his family. I also enjoyed the mini-biography of Charles of Sweden...I'll have to read a book about him next! Pick this one up- you'll love it!
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Peter the Great: His Life and World
Peter the Great: His Life and World by Robert K. Massie (Paperback - October 12, 1981)
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