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Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner Paperback – January 4, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Biography in the grand tradition. . . . The story is riveting, the main character a hero, and the author a gifted storyteller with an impressive command of his subject.” --The Washington Post Book World

“Excellent with dazzling mastery of detail and literary flair . . . One of the great love stories of history in a league with Napoleon and Josephine and Antony and Cleopatra.” –The Economist

“Montefiore conveys [Russian] history with vivid detail and narrative momentum. . . . He captures the genius of two extraordinary Enlightenment figures–and of the age as well.” –The Wall Street Journal

“Meticulously researched . . . absorbing . . . Monumental, densely detailed and . . . dizzily panoramic.” –The New York Times Book Review

“Invigorating . . . lively . . . Potemkin led a life full of drama, flair and intrigue. . . . A grand, epochal yarn of a life.” –Chicago Tribune

“Colorful figures cross the pages of this flamboyant biography. . . . A rollicking tale, balanced in treatment of its controversial characters.” –Boston Globe

“Superb. . . sumptuous. . . . Montefiore has a journalist’s instinct for getting behind the official version of events.” — Daily Telegraph (London)

“A wonderful story, and Sebag Montefiore tells it with joyful verve. . . . The material is so enjoyable, and it is related with evident pleasure and enthusiasm.” –The Times (London)

“A good, racy historical read. . . . The amazing story of Catherine the Great’s lover, then favorite, then secret husband, then chief advisor in ruling Russia, might seem the stuff of fiction; fortunately Sebag Montefiore’s researches have been so evidently extensive that this is clearly not the case.” –Antonia Fraser, author of The Wives of Henry VIII

“With great industry and huge enthusiasm [Montefiore] has combed the archives to give us a detailed account of a gigantic . . . figure.” – Sunday Express (London)

“[Montefiore’s] fascination shines through every page of this book. . . It could easily have been double the length, so enjoyable is it to read.” –Sunday Telegraph (London)

“Effortlessly readable and compelling. This is history as it should be written.” –The Sunday Herald

“A wonderful book . . . as magnificent as its subject. . . . Captures the iridescent spirit of Russia’s greatest adventurer.” –Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana

“This splendid biography, as sprawling, magnificent and exotic as its subject, provides for the first time in English a fully researched, accurate, and immensely readable history of this extraordinary man.” –Literary Review

“A passionate, but scholarly, defense of one of the greatest creative figures in Russian history.” –Evening Standard (London)

“Exhaustive and beautifully written. . . . A magnificent biography . . . which is as industrious and exuberant as the man himself.” –The Daily Mail (London)

“Montefiore’s enthusiasm and knowledge make this much more than just an engaging biography, it is a headlong gallop of a read.”–Anthony Beevor, author of Stalingrad

About the Author

Simon Sebag Montefiore is a historian of Russia. Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner was short-listed for the Samuel Johnson, Duff Cooper and Marsh Biography prizes in Britain. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar was awarded the History Book of the Year Prize at the 2004 British Book Awards. Young Stalin won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, the Costa Biography Prize (UK) and the Kreisky Prize for Political Literature (Austria). His books are world bestsellers, published now in 35 languages. He is the author of a new novel, Sashenka. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Montefiore lives in London with his wife, the novelist Santa Montefiore, and their two children. For more details, visit: www.simonsebagmontefiore.com
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 690 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (January 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400077176
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400077175
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #449,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Simon Sebag Montefiore's bestselling, prize-winning books are now published in over 45 languages. A historian specializing in Russia and the Middle East, Dr Montefiore's next major book is 'The Romanovs 1613-1918', a full political, cultural and personal history of the 19 tsars of the dynasty that ruled Russia for over 300 years and an analysis of the nature of Russian empire, to be published in 2016.

'Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner' was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson, Duff Cooper, and Marsh Biography Prizes. 'Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar' won the History Book of the Year Prize, British Book Awards. 'Young Stalin' won LA Times Book Prize for Biography (USA), the Costa Biography Award (UK), the Kreisky Prize for Political Literature (Austria) and Le Grand Prix de la Biographie Politique (France). Both Stalin biographies were bestsellers internationally. 'Jerusalem: the Biography' won the Jewish Book of the Year Prize in the USA and was number one non-fiction bestseller in the UK and an international bestseller.

He is also the author of two novels. 'One Night in Winter' won the Best Political Novel of the Year Prize in Britain and was longlisted for the Orwell Prize. His thriller-love-stories set in Russia - 'One Night in Winter' and 'Sashenka' - are both in paperback.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Visiting Professor at Buckingham University, he is the presenter of three BBC tv series, Jerusalem(2011); Rome (2012) and Istanbul/Constantinople -'Byzantium: a tale of 3 cities'(2013). He was educated at Harrow School and Caius College, Cambridge University where he received his Doctorate of Philosophy.
Twitter: @simonmontefiore
For more information: www. simonsebagmontefiore.com

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
Simon Sebag Montefiore did a superb job at writing such a good biography.
Regi Schtall
It is well worth the read as it leaves you with other areas of historical interest to explore.
N. Carsten
I just completed reading Jerusalem by Montefiore and searched for another book by him.
oregon11

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By M. A Newman VINE VOICE on July 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
Frequently historians have chosen to focus on the more on the love affairs of Catherine the Great rather than on what she actually did to achieve greatness. After all of the things that Catherine is famous for are also things that won the Empresses Anna and Elizabeth notorious reputations. Catherine was great because she was a great ruler, not because she came to power with the aid of an army of lovers. She was also very good at talent spotting and the empire ran as well as it did because she could place members of the nobility in positions of influence.

One of the greatest of Catherine's assistants was Prince Potemkin. Simon Sebag Montefiore has broken new ground here and has exploded old myths. Potemkin emerges as the most capable of Catherine's subordinates, but also as her consort. Whereas previous books had dwelt on the eccentric qualities of Potemkin, this book demonstrates rather convincingly that he was in fact Catherine's consort. It appears that after a prolongued period Potemkin can be recognized for being something more that a battleship.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Regi Schtall on April 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
I always found the life story of Potemkin a very fascinating subject. However, there are not a lot of solid and nicely done researches out there on this particular persona. Most scholars focus on the history of Catherine the Great, and, although I am also interested in the life of the empress, I wanted to find something that would give a good description of Potemkin's life and his character. And then this book was a miraculous finding for me. It is very detailed and gives lots of information about Potemkin and the environment of 18th century Russia. Simon Sebag Montefiore did a superb job at writing such a good biography. I admire Montefiore's choice of subjects: Stalin, Potemkin, etc. There are very controversial figures in the history of Russia and it is difficult to write such an excellent work. I did not read the biography of Stalin, but I most definitely will.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Russian history of that period and who is fascinated by the persona of Potemkin and what hides beneath the legend of that man. However, one should be brave enough to power through tons of information Montefiore offers. It is a long, but entertaining reading.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Asmahan on August 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
What an exhilarating read! If it was a novel you wouldn't believe it, but it really happened in 18th century Russia! A splendid biography, as magnificent and exotic as its subjects, Potemkin, the prince of princes, most beautiful man in St.Petersperg, most extraordinary man in all Europe. Born a son of a poor Nobleman, he was not made by his friendship with Catherine the Great, but by her recognition of his talents, he became important because of his intelligence, originality, drive, and imagination, he brought himself to her attention with irresistible exuberance on the day she seized power, he was an impossible man, but a wonderful character! a control freak and an appalling hypochondriac who always made his point in a characteristically flamboyant manner, one can't help but become a fan.

He died at the young age of 52. Running a country at the time was immense pressure, not only was he co-emperor of Russia, he was also running the army, building a navy, founding cities all around the black sea, conducting umpteen love affairs, sending shopping expeditions to Paris and Milan, he was collecting art, he was building English gardens, this was a man who was living every minute of his life, an insomniac, so he did a lot of it at night!

Catherine the Great, a legendary figure, an incredibly talented and adept politician, second to none, she survived almost 20 years before she became empress herself, ruled triumphantly for thirty years, a very sensuous woman, married at the age of 14, a marriage arranged by her very ambitious mother, she had a very miserable life, in fact the marriage she had with Peter was so unhappy and so unsatisfying for such passionate inelegant woman.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By N. Carsten on October 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Simon Montefiore has written a thoroughly referenced story about two of the most fascinating people in Russian history. It is a love story with depth, passion, and comradeship between Catherine the Great and Potemkin, who started as a soldier in Catherine's guard and ended up as one of the most powerful movers and shakers in the Russian 1700s. You wonder by the end of the book if they really did marry or not. Montefiore makes a strong case for the probability of it.
As you read through the era of history it covers,you are amazed at the breadth that is covered.
It is well worth the read as it leaves you with other areas of historical interest to explore.
I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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By Lupo on June 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
Catherine the Great and Potemkin. It's a story based on a private correspondence, it's a book that runs on two main levels that can satisfy both the historical interest and fascination for human psychology.
It's the intimate story of Catherine and Potemkin, how they fell in love and how they ruled Russia together. In the background, the complex situation of 18th century Russia and Europe.
The way that Sebag Montefiore fuses together the actual documents, the epistles, with the historical facts is so smoothly articulated that the reader can go through the chapters absorbing the content effortlessly.
The vivid and colorful narration, the juicy descriptions of facial expressions, interiors, fabrics, and smells, makes the reader see also the other side of history, the one that makes it more tangible and real. It is easy to imagine Potemkin in his bandana, having his tantrums, or Catherine, not really a beauty, but sensual in her sumptuous dresses, both with their doubts, insecurities, and fierce ambitions.
The author sensibly describes their intense need to communicate to each other during the apex of their love and in the aftermath, like a duet.
Sometimes Potemkin and Catherine were separated, and wrote long letters, other times they were under the same roof, and enjoyed sending short messages from one bedroom to the other one. Sometimes the letters have historical value, sometimes personal content, or just, "good night dear, sleep well". Letters sent with the same swinging simplicity with which we now send emails.
The rhythm never, not for a single moment, fails. Catherine and Potemkin has the captivating fluidity of a novel but is actually a serious history text (see the accurate note apparatus, bibliography, archive reference).
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