Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie

Catherine the Great

The extraordinary story of an obscure young German princess who traveled to Russia at fourteen and rose to become one of the most remarkable, powerful, and captivating women in history.The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra, and The Romanovs returns with another masterpiece of narrative biography, the extraordinary story of an obscure young German princess who traveled to Russia at fourteen and rose to become...

Details Catherine the Great

TitleCatherine the Great
Release DateNov 8th, 2011
PublisherRandom House, Inc. (NY)
GenreHistory, Biography, Nonfiction, Cultural, Russia, Historical, Biography Memoir, Russian History, Audiobook, European History, Literature, 18th Century

Reviews Catherine the Great

  • Grace Tjan
    FROM THE MEMOIRS OF CATHERINE THE GREATFirst things first: that wasn’t my real name. The Empress Elizabeth, who was Peter the Great’s daughter (now, that is a man who truly deserves “the Great” after his name!), changed my name to Ekaterina when she converted me into the Russian Orthodox religion. As for that superfluous title that follows my new name, it was prematurely bestowed on me by the Legislative Commission that I convened to give...
  • Tatiana
    Like probably every woman of note in history, open about and unashamed of her sexuality, Catherine the Great is primarily remembered as a power- and man-hungry, salacious, perverted woman. Try googling her name and see how high on the list of the results is the ever-pressing question - Did she really sleep with a horse? Does anyone care about her accomplishments in politics, art and science? Not really. But her sexual exploits? Oh, YES!That's why...
  • Matt
    Firstly, to answer your most pressing question regarding Catherine the Great, the Empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796: No, she did not die having sex with a horse.Moreover, if you have an abiding interest in the origins of this rumor, Robert K. Massie’s Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman will not satiate your deviant interest (it certainly didn't satisfy mine). Massie refuses to engage the slander – born during her own lifetime – at a...
  • Matt
    My ongoing exploration of biographies has pushed into yet another realm; women of power. What better way to begin than with a woman who held much power in her time and about whom I know very little? Bring on Catherine the Great of Russia! Robert K. Massie does a sensational job of pulling out a strong and well-rounded story of this most interesting Empress of Russia. She faced hurdles and impediments throughout her life, but always found a way to...
  • Saleh MoonWalker
    Onvan : Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman - Nevisande : Robert K. Massie - ISBN : 679456724 - ISBN13 : 9780679456728 - Dar 625 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2011
  • Dem
    Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K Massie is the extraordinary story of an obscure young German princess who travelled to Russia at the tender age of fourteen and rose to become one of the most powerful, and captivating women in history.I had previously read Massie's Nicholas and Alexandra which was wonderful and I was really interested in reading about Catherine the Great.Massie did extensive research on this book. It is Cather...
  • Rebecca Huston
    This one was clearly a win for me as a biography of Catherine the Great. Massie's writing is clear, brisk and kept the story moving throughout. What I really enjoyed was how he took the time and trouble to show how Catherine carried forward the reforms begun by Peter the Great, and was a monarch who overcame a great deal of adversity to overcome the obstacles of not being Russian, being a woman, and a usurper to boot -- most biographies focus on ...
  • Chrissie
    I am impressed. Catherine the Great lived from 1729-1796. She was 14 when she first came to Russia, This book covers this entire time period meticulously. I understand how her childhood experiences came to shape her as an adult. I understand her need for love and why she came to have twelve lovers. At the same time she was motivated to seek power. She played a huge role in European history. All of this history is detailed in the book. You meet he...
  • Jessica
    Whew. What a densely loaded book about a fascinating woman. If you have an interest in Catherine the Great, this is most definitely a biography to add to your repertoire. When the audiobook has 19 "chapters" which are just over an hour in length... you know you are getting your book's worth of material. My interest is still piqued in Russian history and this woman. I also appreciated the time devoted to her predecessor Elizabeth, her sort of tech...
  • Sam
    This book is hard to place on a scale. At times, it’s a 5 and other times it’s a 2 or even a 1. After some debating in my head I’m going to give it a 3.5, but it’s not enough to round it up to a 4. This book started off as a 5 and I loved it. The story of Catherine (then Sophia) growing up, being picked as the bride for the heir to the Russian Empire, and her years spent in Russia was great. Massie interspaced entries from her own memoirs...
  • Madeline
    "She sat on the throne of Peter the Great and ruled an empire, the largest on earth. Her signature, inscribed on a decree, was law and, if she chose, could mean life or death for any one of her twenty million subjects. She was intelligent, well-read, and a shrewd judge of character. During the coup, she had shown determination and courage; once on the throne, she displayed an open mind, willingness to forgive, and a political morality founded on ...
  • Alice Poon
    This engaging and well-researched historical tome about one of Russia’s greatest rulers merits 4 full stars. Apart from painting a memorable and respectable portrait of the dramatic life of Catherine the Great, the book also accounts succinctly for the labyrinth of European/Eurasian politics at play in the 18th century, and depicts Russia’s participation in the Seven Years’ War, its carving up of Poland, its two major Wars with Turkey and i...
  • Laura
    his the biography of Catherine the Great written by Robert K. Massie.In reality, her birthday’s name was Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg.Her father, Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst was a German prince of the House of Ascania. He was a ruler of the Principality of Anhalt-Dornburg.Her mother, Joanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp was a princess of the House of Holstein-Gottorp and later the Princess of Anhalt-Zerbst....
  • Athens
    Maybe this book is very excellent at what it wanted to be, but I wanted it to be something different. I wanted a history book.1) In trying to be accessible, the prose comes off as simplistic at times. 2) A quibble is the repetition of statements from only a few chapters prior. Those statements do help set the scene for the current action, but are sometimes overdone and unnecessary if the reader had been paying any attention at all to what was jus...
  • Kiwi Begs2Differ ✎
    This is a beautiful and very readable biography of one of the most fascinating and influential women in history. The author did not limit his book to Catherine’s story nor to her family and the Russian imperial line but included many important figures from the Russian political world and the wider European courts and culture (for example wonderful cameos of Voltaire and Diderot). In this way, Massie successfully provides a 360 degree view of hi...
  • Bou
    Robert K. Massie does a convincing effort to tell us Catherine the great, or the tale of how a small German princess became one of the greatest monarch during the Enlightenment era.Born to a low noble German family, Catherine's life got turned upside down when she was betrothed to Paul I, the adopted son of Empress Elizabeth of Russia. However, the betrothal and subsequent marriage was not a happy one, and due to the eccentric behaviour of Paul I...
  • Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
    Historical Fictionistas Group Read starting 1Feb15!Started reading this in February, got roughly 30 pages in and put it down... Found the audio through my library and I'm SO GLAD I did, otherwise I might never have finished this. Not because it's boring, but because the research is simply EXHAUSTIVE. If you're interested in Russian history, I highly recommend this book. It's my first Massie book but I have two more waiting at home (thankfully sho...
  • Mike
    Sophia, daughter of humble Prince Augustus of Anhalt-Zerbst, Prussia, spends an lonely childhood, unloved by a scheming mother, recommended by Frederick the Great and subsequently summoned to Russia by Empress Elizabeth, married to the heir Peter III (also a German) who would not consummate the marriage for 9 years, produces an heir to the throne (just who is the father?), then relegated to the background, eventually forces her unbalanced husband...
  • Elizabeth May
    I raved about Robert Massie's biography on last Russian tsar and tsarina, Nicholas and Alexandra, and it was one of my favourite reads last year. In it, Massie briefly mentioned that Peter the Great had abolished the law of primogeniture, which required succession of the throne to be male only, starting with the first-born son. As a result, Russia had three empresses in succession: Anna Ioannovna, Elizabeth Petrovna, and Catherine II. The latter ...
  • Carol
    I wish Robert Massie had written this book before my trip to Russia in 2008. One thing I was looking forward to seeing on that trip was Catherine’s Palace and The Amber Room. Of course, I also visited The Hermitage and between these settings, I did get to see some the incredible art collection that Catherine amassed during her reign. Ah, but there is so much more to this woman. Robert K. Massie certainly delivers on the subtitle of his book: Th...
  • Yelda Basar Moers
    I just finished this biography of Catherine the Great and I have to say it was riveting-- a real page turner. I didn't want it to end-- even after 570 pages of it!!! The author won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Peter the Great (the famed European style reformer who made Russia a great power). His writing is so engaging that I couldn't put this book down!Catherine's story is remarkable: She was an obscure German princess (of a tiny princip...
  • Saikhnaa Ch
    жирийн нэгэн герман охин Оросын хатан хаан болсон, болох болохдоо алдар цуугаа мандуулсан Орос орныг нийгэм, соёлын хөгжлийн шинэ шатанд авчирсан сонирхолтой түүх. Энэ намтрыг Оросын түүх, алдартай хаад ноёдын түүхээр дагнан бичдэг Пулитцерын ш...
  • happy
    Mr Massie has again brought one of the members of the ruling dynasty of Russia to life. He draws a complex picture of the woman who became known as Catherine the Great. She however resisted using the term Great and preferred to referred to as Catherine II.Massie starts his narrative with Catherine – then known as Sofia, a minor German princess, and the maneuverings of her mother to get her married off. She ends up traveling with her mother to t...
  • Laura
    Massie's research into the life of Catherine II is extensive (for example, he used three different translations of her Memoirs) and wide-ranging and the writing style is engaging enough to almost make one forget this is a nearly 600 page book (it's the weight that gives it away).While I knew something about her life, there was much I hadn't and was fascinated to learn. I knew she was a German princess, but not that it was of some small, unimporta...
  • Clif Hostetler
    I was surprised how interesting I found this book to be. I had no particular interest in Catherine the Great and the only reason I read it was to reinforce my knowledge of history in preparation for a trip to Europe to trace the route of my wife’s ancestors' migrations. Their movements included a number of years in both southern Poland and Ukraine, both regions are within the sphere of influence of Catherine’s Russian Empire. Since I didn’t...
  • Jennifer (JC-S)
    ‘She sat on the throne of Peter the Great and ruled an empire, the largest on earth.’Sophia Augusta Fredericka of Anhalt-Zerbst was born into a minor German noble family on 21 April 1729. Sophia was brought to Russia as a teenager, converted to Orthodoxy, renamed Catherine, and married off by the Empress Elizabeth Petrovna to her nephew and heir Peter. As Catherine II, she was Empress of Russia from 28 June 1762 until her death on 6 November ...
  • Caidyn (BW Book Reviews; he/him/his)
    3.5I want to give this four stars, but I can't. Not even rounding up can I.That being said, it's not a bad book at all. I knew next to nothing about Catherine the Great besides that she overthrew her husband and had him assassinated, then also had a ton of lovers. That's it. I didn't even know about the whole horse rumor, which still is... weird. Where they got that rumor from, who knows.I learned so much about her, and also about Russia. The mos...
  • Charlene
    Because I read Massie's book at the same time I read Romanovs by Simon Montefiore, this is a duplicate review of the one that appears in my section of Montefiore's book. I might be as in love with Catherine the Great as Trump is with Putin. Good thing a) she isn't alive now and b) I am not the ruler of our country. Otherwise I might resemble both Trump and Catherine's foolish husband Peter. Trump is so enamored with Putin (and perhaps being blac...
  • Clif
    A flowing, engaging portrait of a remarkable person. Curiously, around mid-book, the author gets repetitive, as if the manuscript proofreader lost a section, then Massie gets right back into the groove.Monarchy is always an interesting subject. We all fantasize at some point about what life would be like if we were fabulously rich and powerful. The history of monarchies gives us many examples of this wish becoming reality and it isn't comforting....
  • Rex Fuller
    She was born Sophia Anhalt-Zerbst, a German. The Empress Elizabeth of Russia selected her at age 14 by to marry her nephew, Peter, the heir to the throne. Highly intelligent, raven-haired, beautiful, engaging, and outgoing, she first delighted the Russian court by learning the language. She converted from Lutheran to Orthodox, taking the name Ekaterina (Catherine). She did not love her husband-to-be, nor did he love her. But that had nothing to d...