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 intense tale of an imprecise younger German princess who traveled to Russia at fourteen and rose to turn into probably the most outstanding, strong, and beautiful ladies in history.
Born right into a minor noble relations, Catherine remodeled herself into Empress of Russia via sheer decision. owning an excellent brain and an insatiable interest as a tender girl, she gobbled the works of Enlightenment philosophers and, whilst she reached the throne, tried to exploit their ideas to steer her rule of the colossal and backward Russian empire. She knew or corresponded with the preeminent ancient figures of her time: Voltaire, Diderot, Frederick the good, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, Marie Antoinette, and, strangely, the yank naval hero, John Paul Jones.
Reaching the throne fired by way of Enlightenment philosophy and made up our minds to develop into the embodiment of the “benevolent despot” idealized by way of Montesquieu, she came upon herself continually contending with the deeply ingrained realities of Russian existence, together with serfdom. She endured, and for thirty-four years the govt., overseas 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 switch and violence churned up by way of the French Revolution that swept throughout Europe. Her recognition depended completely at the standpoint of the speaker. She used to be praised through Voltaire because the equivalent of the best of classical philosophers; she used to be condemned through her enemies, more often than not overseas, as “the Messalina of the north.”
Catherine’s family members, associates, ministers, generals, fans, and enemies—all are right here, vividly defined. those integrated her bold, without end scheming mom; her susceptible, bullying husband, Peter (who left her mendacity untouched beside him for 9 years after their marriage); her unsatisfied son and inheritor, Paul; her loved grandchildren; and her “favorites”—the parade of younger males from whom she sought companionship and the recapture of teen in addition to intercourse. right here, too, is the enormous determine of Gregory Potemkin, her most vital lover and attainable husband, with whom she shared a passionate correspondence of affection and separation, via seventeen years of exceptional mutual achievement.
The tale is fantastically informed. all of the certain features that Robert ok. Massie dropped at Nicholas and Alexandra and Peter the Great are current right here: old accuracy, intensity of figuring out, felicity of favor, mastery of element, skill to shatter fable, and a unprecedented genius for locating and expressing the human drama in outstanding lives.
History deals few tales richer in drama than that of Catherine the good. during this e-book, this perpetually attention-grabbing lady is again to existence.
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Additional resources for Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman
A commission consisting of Pokrovsky, Gorin and Pashukanis was set up to consider its organisation. 54 The task was rapidly accomplished. On 8 March the party's central committee decided that an Institute of History should be established at the Academy and that RANION's Institute of History should be merged with it, ceasing existence by l November. 55 This decision was ratified by TsiK SSSR on 12 April. 56 Pokrovsky meanwhile defended the new policy. Lenin's celebrated phrase about building Communism with the hands of non-Communists, he explained in Prat·da in mid-March, referred to a situation when the regime had no forces of its own.
Fridlyand placed the current conflict among historians firmly in the context of the current struggle with the Right deviation. The more notable our successes on all fronts of Soviet construction, the fiercer the resistance of capitalist elements-the kulak, the nepmen, the bourgeois and petit-bourgeois intellectual. The position on the historical front is not an exception, but confirms the general rule about the need for a further, full-scale attack by the united front of our socialist construction on the remnants of the past.
And his book had appeared in 1927, with no adverse attention before Pokrovsky's attack. A chapter, indeed. had been published in 1storik-marksist. 38 Once again. the change in attitude towards Tarle can be explained only in terms of Pokrovsky's offensive against 'bourgeois' historians in general, and the implications of Tarle's offending book in particular. The latter were not difficult to discern. Diagnosis of a weakening in the class struggle prior to 1914 could cast serious doubt on the European proletariat's ability to carry through the world revolution.