Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie


Rate: 3.5/5


Medium: AudioBook


 Overview (No Spoilers): With my overall knowledge of Russian history lacking, I found Catherine the Great to be the perfect way to broaden my overall world perspective. While I enjoyed Massie’s biography of Catherine, I became frustrated with his organization of information. Initially, Massie would detail her general life, from the progression of a lower Prussian Princess to the Grand Duchess of Russia and eventual Empress of Russia.   However, the next section would highlight events previously described under a different light, for example in the context of what lovers she had at that point. The following section would then shed light on yet other aspects where impacting Catherine’s decisions during her rule, such as internal rebellion. Most shocking to me was the level of censorship that Catherine exacted upon her subjects as a result of the French Revolution, which was a far cry from her initial enlightened perspective, which dictated her early rule. As Massie added layer after layer of complexity to Catherine, I found my initial sympathy and respect for her eroded at the base. I realize when composing book of this nature the amount of information siphoned would have been enormous, however I would have rather had the information presented in a chronological manner. Overall, I highly enjoyed learning, not only about Russian history, but the European history and mind frame during Catherine’s rule. Massie writes in a way that keeps the readers attention, while conveying massive amount of information.


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