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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Catherine was Great, July 14, 2006
By 
M. A Newman (Alexandria, VA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Biography of a Great Man., April 16, 2009
This review is from: Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner (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
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest love stories of history, impeccably researched, beautifully written, August 31, 2010
This review is from: Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner (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. She needed a life partner, and after going through a series of lovers , finally there was Potemkin who (as the letters would prove) was the love and the best friend of her life, it was very romantic, for she knew him for 12 years before she took him as a lover, all that time he was passionately in love with her. They shocked Europe by taking younger lovers, yet they secretly married and ruled together as best friends and lifelong lovers.

Their secret letters, are the most romantic and unique letters ever written, simply because of the intelligence, politics,and power all mixed in with an incredible sexual passion and friendship. He carried her letters by his heart, and when he died he had them out and wept on them.

Simon Sebag Montefiore is an exceptional historian and writer. After reading his novel Sashenka, I couldn't wait to read all of his work, he tells it with joyful verve, The writing is fluent, with a dazzling mastery of detail. Montefiore's skill really shines in making a page-turner out of the most profound scholarship, that was massively researched in Russian archives as is all of his work, I highly recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars amazing story of Russian history, October 29, 2012
By 
N. Carsten (malibu, california) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner (Paperback)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Montefiore is the best history writer, January 25, 2013
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This review is from: Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner (Paperback)
I just completed reading Jerusalem by Montefiore and searched for another book by him. I am into the Potemkin book and, sure enough, it is as good as I expected from this writer. Excellent research and fun to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book, June 28, 2012
This review is from: Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner (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).
Also, a special merit to Sebag Montefiore for having given Potemkin a different exposure other than the Eisenstein's The Battleship Potemkin, for which his name is generally known for.
Brilliant reading, I read it in one go.
And the beginning... is like in a movie!
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4.0 out of 5 stars It is a good follow to Robert Massie's biography of Katheryn the Great, September 17, 2014
By 
Deborah Sue St Clair (Union City, Tennessee) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner (Paperback)
I got about 2/3 through it and got bogged down and went on to ready something else. It is a good follow to Robert Massie's biography of Katheryn the Great, but is tedious in parts.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Potemkin : Catherine the Great Imperial partner, October 7, 2009
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This review is from: Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner (Paperback)
This book is really the kind I wanted to read a few pages at a time without losing the continuity of the action. It is simply but very well written with true historical accounts of the lives and events described. Potemkin and Catherine are two fascinating personages I would have loved to meet.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Potemkin, March 31, 2009
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This review is from: Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner (Paperback)
A fantastic biography of an incredible man. Great research and writing in spite of the author's over-frequent use of "soi-disant" (what's wrong with "so-called"?).
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Those Long Names, November 23, 2008
This review is from: Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner (Paperback)
Just too many names to remember but the end result is exhilarating. Follow-up with the Stalin Duo
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Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner
Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner by Simon Sebag Montefiore (Paperback - January 4, 2005)
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