My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Admittedly, I don’t know much about Russian History, so I’m not in a position to judge Robert K. Massie’s Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman on accuracy, but I read and thoroughly enjoyed his books on the World War I naval war, so I have no reason to doubt his accuracy when it comes to Catherine the Great. So much of what you see about Catherine the Great is about her sexuality, so it was wonderful to read about her ideas and how and why they changed throughout her reign and about her accomplishments. She’s such a fascinating subject and Massie did a great job describing what developed and formed her personality and how her experiences changed her thoughts from childhood to Empress then over her reign as Empress. Since Catherine was a Western European taking an Eastern European throne, Massie does a great job showing how it disadvantaged her and how she overcame her subject’s suspicions. He also does a wonderful job fitting in the complicated relationship between Russia and the rest of Europe and how the two influenced each other. If you’re a fan of History or Biography, this is definitely a book to put on your reading list.