By Robert K. Massie
The Pulitzer Prize–winning writer of Peter the good, Nicholas and Alexandra, and The Romanovs returns with one other masterpiece of narrative biography, the extreme tale of an imprecise younger German princess who traveled to Russia at fourteen and rose to turn into the most impressive, strong, and attractive ladies in history.
Born right into a minor noble family members, Catherine remodeled herself into Empress of Russia by way of sheer decision. owning an excellent brain and an insatiable interest as a tender lady, she gobbled the works of Enlightenment philosophers and, whilst she reached the throne, tried to exploit their ideas to lead her rule of the gigantic and backward Russian empire. She knew or corresponded with the preeminent ancient figures of her time: Voltaire, Diderot, Frederick the nice, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, Marie Antoinette, and, unusually, the yank naval hero, John Paul Jones.
Reaching the throne fired by means of Enlightenment philosophy and made up our minds to develop into the embodiment of the “benevolent despot” idealized by means of Montesquieu, she came across herself continually contending with the deeply ingrained realities of Russian lifestyles, together with serfdom. She continued, and for thirty-four years the govt, international coverage, cultural improvement, and welfare of the Russian humans have been in her fingers. She handled household uprising, international wars, and the tidal wave of political swap and violence churned up by way of the French Revolution that swept throughout Europe. Her acceptance depended fullyyt at the point of view of the speaker. She used to be praised by way of Voltaire because the equivalent of the best of classical philosophers; she used to be condemned through her enemies, commonly international, as “the Messalina of the north.”
Catherine’s relatives, neighbors, ministers, generals, fanatics, and enemies—all are right here, vividly defined. those integrated her formidable, forever scheming mom; her vulnerable, bullying husband, Peter (who left her mendacity untouched beside him for 9 years after their marriage); her unsatisfied son and inheritor, Paul; her cherished grandchildren; and her “favorites”—the parade of younger males from whom she sought companionship and the recapture of teenage in addition to intercourse. right here, too, is the large determine of Gregory Potemkin, her most important lover and attainable husband, with whom she shared a passionate correspondence of affection and separation, by means of seventeen years of unprecedented mutual achievement.
The tale is fantastically advised. all of the distinctive characteristics that Robert ok. Massie delivered to Nicholas and Alexandra and Peter the Great are current the following: ancient accuracy, intensity of figuring out, felicity of fashion, mastery of element, skill to shatter fable, and an extraordinary genius for locating and expressing the human drama in impressive lives.
History bargains few tales richer in drama than that of Catherine the good. during this e-book, this ceaselessly attention-grabbing lady is again to existence.
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Extra info for Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman
Lawrence Kitchens would remain a lifelong friend. In December 1857, Reddick's land had been part of the territory removed from Warren County and given to a new creation, Glascock County, named after a soldier, lawyer, and politician from Augusta. 26 If Reddick had business in the county seatÐto call on the sheriff or fill in a form at the courthouseÐit was now the tiny town of Gibson he had to ride into, instead of Warrenton. Otherwise, the county boundary change made no difference to Reddick.
Reddick fought in many battles. Some of them were inconclusive skirmishes, but others were prolonged nightmares of importunate slaughter that left huge tracts of field and forest strewn with the swollen corpses of men and horses, congealed in mud and blood. Reddick's early battles were at South Mills, North Carolina; Seven Pines (aka Fair Oaks); the Seven Days Battles (from a first indecisive engagement at Oak Grove, aka King's School House, to the last, at Malvern Hill, on the first day of July 1862); Falling Creek, Virginia; and Second Bull Run.
Reddick was among the few to be there with Robert E. Lee when the end came. From his regiment, just nine officers and 196 other men could say the same. He was one of the first men in America to hear that the war was over. He had survived much of its recurrent, murderous nightmare. He had seen a gruesome, gory, sustained parade of horrors. He had endured many battles, months of prison-camp life, long nights of freezing weather, illness, and hunger, injury in the field, and the dangers of fever-ridden hospital wards.
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie