Monday, February 6, 2012

CATHERINE THE GREAT by Robert K. Massie (bio)

Sophia a young girl of minor German nobility was brought to Russia to marry the chosen heir of the Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great. When she was baptized in the Orthodox church, leaving her Lutheran religion behind, her name was changed. Both Catherine and her husband Peter III were completely naive and never consummated their marriage.  Peter was socially retarded and after many unhappy years of marriage, Catherine fell into an affair with a courtier, Saltykov.  This was the beginning of Catherine's asserting herself, eventually becoming the Catherine of history books.  The story of her rise to the throne, her numerous affairs, her love of learning, art and music is fascinating reading.  Massie makes it all real.  Catherine lived at a time of great world upheavals and war.  It was the age of revolutions throughout Europe and the New World.  It was a time when rulers were deposed, exiled and beheaded.  She corresponded with the greatest thinkers of her time, and brought great art and learning to the vast Russian land.  She was the true spiritual heir of Peter the Great.  This book is fabulous.  It reads like and interesting novel, and if all you imagined of Catherine is that she was an oversexed oversized woman, you need to read this to fully understand her place in the great history of Russia, and the world.

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