Catherine the Great [portrait of a woman]
(CD audio book)

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Westminster, Md. : Books on Tape, p2011.
CD audio book
Library ed.
Physical Desc:
19 sound discs (ca. 76 min. each) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
Bellevue - Adult Audiobook
Green Hills - Adult Audiobook
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 one of the most remarkable, powerful, and captivating women in history.

Born into a minor noble family, Catherine transformed herself into Empress of Russia by sheer determination. Possessing a brilliant mind and an insatiable curiosity as a young woman, she devoured the works of Enlightenment philosophers and, when she reached the throne, attempted to use their principles to guide her rule of the vast and backward Russian empire. She knew or corresponded with the preeminent historical figures of her time: Voltaire, Diderot, Frederick the Great, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, Marie Antoinette, and, surprisingly, the American naval hero, John Paul Jones.

Reaching the throne fired by Enlightenment philosophy and determined to become the embodiment of the "benevolent despot" idealized by Montesquieu, she found herself always contending with the deeply ingrained realities of Russian life, including serfdom. She persevered, and for thirty-four years the government, foreign policy, cultural development, and welfare of the Russian people were in her hands. She dealt with domestic rebellion, foreign wars, and the tidal wave of political change and violence churned up by the French Revolution that swept across Europe. Her reputation depended entirely on the perspective of the speaker. She was praised by Voltaire as the equal of the greatest of classical philosophers; she was condemned by her enemies, mostly foreign, as "the Messalina of the north."

Catherine's family, friends, ministers, generals, lovers, and enemies--all are here, vividly described. These included her ambitious, perpetually scheming mother; her weak, bullying husband, Peter (who left her lying untouched beside him for nine years after their marriage); her unhappy son and heir, Paul; her beloved grandchildren; and her "favorites"--the parade of young men from whom she sought companionship and the recapture of youth as well as sex. Here, too, is the giant figure of Gregory Potemkin, her most significant lover and possible husband, with whom she shared a passionate correspondence of love and separation, followed by seventeen years of unparalleled mutual achievement.

The story is superbly told. All the special qualities that Robert K. Massie brought to Nicholas and Alexandra and Peter the Great are present here: historical accuracy, depth of understanding, felicity of style, mastery of detail, ability to shatter myth, and a rare genius for finding and expressing the human drama in extraordinary lives.

History offers few stories richer in drama than that of Catherine the Great. In this book, this eternally fascinating woman is returned to life.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Bellevue - Adult Audiobook
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Green Hills - Adult Audiobook
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More Details
9780307970213 (liner), 0307970213 (liner)


General Note
Subtitle from container.
General Note
General Note
Compact discs.
Read by Mark Deakins.
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APA Citation (style guide)

Massie, R. K., & Deakins, M. (2011). Catherine the Great: [portrait of a woman]. Library ed. Westminster, Md.: Books on Tape.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Massie, Robert K., 1929- and Mark. Deakins. 2011. Catherine the Great: [portrait of a Woman]. Westminster, Md.: Books on Tape.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Massie, Robert K., 1929- and Mark. Deakins, Catherine the Great: [portrait of a Woman]. Westminster, Md.: Books on Tape, 2011.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Massie, Robert K., and Mark Deakins. Catherine the Great: [portrait of a Woman]. Library ed. Westminster, Md.: Books on Tape, 2011.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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