Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman - Robert K. Massie

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

By Robert K. Massie

  • Release Date: 2011-11-08
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4
From 703 Ratings


“[A] tale of power, perseverance and passion . . . a great story in the hands of a master storyteller.”—The Wall Street Journal
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 German princess who became 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. 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. Catherine’s family, friends, ministers, generals, lovers, and enemies—all are here, vividly brought to life. History offers few stories richer than that of Catherine the Great. In this book, an eternally fascinating woman is returned to life.
“[A] compelling portrait not just of a Russian titan, but also of a flesh-and-blood woman.”—Newsweek
“An absorbing, satisfying biography.”—Los Angeles Times
“Juicy and suspenseful.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A great life, indeed, and irresistibly told.”—Salon
The New York Times • The Washington Post • USA Today • The Boston Globe • San Francisco Chronicle • Chicago Tribune • Newsweek/The Daily Beast • Salon • VogueSt. Louis Post-Dispatch • The Providence Journal • Washington Examiner • South Florida Sun-Sentinel • BookPage • Bookreporter • Publishers Weekly

BONUS: This edition contains a Catherine the Great reader's guide.


  • Magnificent masterpiece

    By Spencer Koy
    As a foreigner who lived in Russia for years, one of my greatest interests regarding the country lies in its history. Massie is truly a master of colourful language and faithful attitudes towards history. This is a serious book about history, yet never lacks of attracting details and story lines.
  • DSW’sx

    By RFMC(real fast muscle cars)
    Se cry nat
  • Massie is no Erik Larson

    By Mzhenya
    The book reads like a dissertation, disconnected sentences that don't exactly create a narrative. It could have been half the size if the author didn't lift full paragraphs and repeated them in the following pages and kept doing it though out the book. I gave the book more stars than it probably deserves because I enjoyed learning about the subject. The book was certainly thoroughly researched.
  • Catherine the Great: A portrait of a woman

    By Annie Golden
    An excellent read. I have enjoyed reading about the life of Catherine the Great and in an odd way feel connected to her. I didn't want the book to end. Thanks to Robert Massie for telling Catherine's story in such a magnificent way.
  • Loved it!

    By NissyKay
    I love historical novels and this was great. Definite recommend.
  • Catherine...reality trumps idealism.

    By Irma Sturgell
    I heard about Catherine the Great from my mother who credited her with supporting Germans in Russia. Mom also told me Catherine abolished serfdom. Wow, was mom wrong on that score! Admittedly, Catherine, early in her reign, did attempt to address the issue if serfdom, but she soon buckled under pressure from the 1% (they preferred to keep their boots on the necks of the serfs) and the lack of cohesion of the 99% (too may issues, too little agreement). Hmmm. Sounds familiar. In any case, Massie's massive biography reveals a woman who knew how to grab power and then how to use it. And in the process, she became the consummate monarch who enjoyed all the benefits taxation without representation could provide in imperial Russia. Her extravagance is astounding. At times, Massie gives us too much information, but in spite of its length, this is an engaging book for Russia enthusiasts. Still,I loved Nicholas and Alexandra more.
  • Entertaining & Informative

    By Joseybelle
    I really enjoyed 90% of this book, and typically I am not interested in history. There were a few chapters toward the end that I skimmed because it was too much information for me. I'm very glad I read this book!
  • Catherine the Great

    By Rajnimunna
    The best epic story ever written. 5 star
  • Catherine the Great

    By acoalbiter
    Such a reading pleasure!
  • Catherine the Great

    By LGBtrains
    Very good book with storylines, history and good flow and fun to read. I loved it and stayed with its 800 pages.