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Robert Massie Dispels Myths with “Catherine the Great”

November 14th, 2011 1 comment

Pulitzer Prize winning biographer Robert K. Massie separates historical rumor from documented fact with his new book Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman (Random House, 656pgs). Massie has proven himself to be an enthusiast of all things Russian with his previous books, including the bestselling Nicholas and Alexandra and Peter the Great, and according to a review in USA TODAY, his enthusiasm does not wane with this new subject. Catherine, born into minor German nobility and married off to her second cousin, the heir to the Russian throne, at 16, is affectionately portrayed as intelligent, driven and forthright. Upon her marriage, she begins a rigorous self-education, learning Russian, adopting her new homeland’s Orthodox faith and devouring books on all subjects. Her actions endear her to the Russian people, though the citizenry feel quite the opposite about Peter, her arrogant and cruel husband. Just months into Peter’s reign, the reviled czar is overthrown and 33 year-old Catherine is enthroned, though the book posits that it is unlikely she orchestrated the coup. Read more…

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