308 of 312 people found the following review helpful
A classic work on a fascinating man,
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This review is from: Peter the Great: His Life and World (Paperback)
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 into the world of late 17th century and early 18th century Russia. I know that many "serious historians" pooh-pooh this work and others because it is not "serious history." This attitude is tragic. If you are interested at all in good history and good story-telling, this is the book for you, even if your interest is not specifically in Russian history. The author presents his subject, Peter the Great, as a "real person"--one with both inspiring qualities and with not so inspiring qualities. Yes, there are alot of details about the military, however, these details all illustrate Peter's great attention to the creation of a navy from scratch and of the development of an army that went on to rival the greatest in the world. I cannot say enough good things about this book, and cannot thank the author enough for having written it and having inspired me to continue my own studies.
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Initial post: Nov 17, 2011 1:22:58 AM PST
I thoroughly agree with you, phdc. This is a wonderful book. There seems to be a war on between most of the "serious historians", the "academics" who find it necessary to deride all so-called narrative history and those who do write in that form and increase the knowledge and pleasure of "the rest of us " not to mention many, as you, engaged in pursuit of academic wisdom and degrees. That attitude is indeed "tragic" as you say. But I find it almost everywhere in the field of history. Academics condemn Simon Schama, David McCullough, among many others, even Winston Churchill, and good lord, Stephen Ambrose, who most certainly was a popularizing hack, so they say. History should live, as it exists forever - past, present, and future. And it is important that the present generations not forget what their forerunners, their ancestry has bequethed to them, often at great sacrifice. they won't get that from the academics, however. Side note: I am looking forward now to Massie's new biography of Catherine the Great. I admit I am a Russophile, though simply for my own edification and love of that people and their culture.
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