This superbly told story brings to life one of the most remarkable rulers––and men––in all of history and conveys the drama of his life and world. The Russia of Peter's birth was very different from the Russia his energy, genius, and ruthlessness shaped. Crowned co-Tsar as a child of ten, after witnessing bloody uprisings in the streets of Moscow, he would grow up propelled by an unquenchable curiosity, everywhere looking, asking, tinkering, and learning, fired by Western ideas.
We see Peter in his 20s traveling "incognito" with his ambassadors to the courts of Europe; as the victorious soldier proclaimed Emperor; as the simple workman at his forge; and as the visionary statesman who single-handedly created a formidable world power. Impetuous and stubborn, bawdy and stern, relentless in his perseverance, he was capable of the greatest generosity and the greatest cruelty.
©1980 Robert K. Massie (P)1991 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Enthralling.... As fascinating as any novel and more so than most!" (New York Times Book Review)
work as an artist and art restorer. read at least 48 books a year, because I can listen while I work.
this was one of those books I'd read many years before, and found it to be wonderfully interesting, and got me started liking history in general. Peter was such an intriguing character - and I was glad to see it offered in audible form. It is, however quite detailed, and if you are not interested in how military battles commence, then maybe this is not for you. I do recommend it however, for its insight into not just Peter, but Russian life at the time.
This is a very good book. It covers a critically important topic in history that is often neglected, and does it in good detail with great prose. One thing in particular I liked about it was that on several occasions it discusses some other events going on in Europe at the time, and is thus even more informative than it would be otherwise.
Mr. Massie's book is very engaging and flows with an easy narrative. The scenes and people are very well described, giving the reader a rich visual and psychological picture of Peter the Great's Russia. He does a great job of detailing not only great events but also such things as interior and exterior architecture, hairstyles, crime statistics, the different materials shoes were made of, what contemporary maps looked like, food eaten by peasants and at court, and etc. He also does great service to describing the situation of women in general but also the specific details of women whose lives came to bear on the story of Peter and current events. The many characters and parties are easy to keep track of, and all in all this book is a clear picture of the life and times of Peter the Great. The narration was clear and engaging - though I find that British accents can be sometimes hard to understand, I had no such problem with this audiobook. I would recommend this for any person, not only Russophiles or history buffs.
This audio version of a fantastic book is perfect. The narrator is grand, capable of pronouncing russian names without a problem, and keeping the right rythm, not reading to slow or to quickly.
The book is written, grouping the events and actions surrounding certain persons or places, or stages and attitudes of Peter's life, into chapters. It does not progress chronologically from event to event, be they unrelated, that the reader would soon feel themselves asking "who is he? and how does he relate?" It is excellently structured, it reads well. I give it a top notch rating.
This is an exhaustively researched and incredibly detailed look at Peter’s life, the influences on him, and the results of his actions. It is a well organized and well told story. Massie does a good job placing Peter’s life in the context of his times. He also begins several tantalizing discussions about the longer-term effects of Peter’s life, such as changes to balance of power calculations in Europe and, following Solzhenitsyn, the effects of the subordination of the Russian church to the government. Such discussions are fascinating, but not fully developed.
The reading was so poor I could not finish- Big disappointment.
I will make a point to never purchase another book with this narrator
lispy, robotic, hard to understand, affected
disappointment for sure - was looking forward to a good snuggle down and listen but could not complete due to irritating voice
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.
His life and WORLD indeed. This is much more than a detailed biography of a fascinating man. Massie includes extensive character studies of every major figure on the European scene during Peter's rule, with major digressions into the social and political landscape in which they operated. The result is a sweeping appraisal of the age in Russia and its European and Ottoman environs, filled with evocative detail which brings it all to life. I found it most convenient to listen in fairly small bites over a long period of time and enjoyed the book extremely. Some of this history was fairly new to me, and following the peripatetic and much larger than life Peter through his extraordinary life was a great way to get to know it.
There is a good deal of military and campaign narrative in the book for which it is helpful to have some maps close at hand. The writing is of such a high caliber, however, that even those who are bored by military history will likely find enough colorful detail, along with glimpses of a plethora of intriguing characters of all stripes, to maintain interest. And in the end this is definitely not a book dominated by battles. Even in a narrative which is so wide ranging and all encompassing, only one subject dominates--the towering personage of Peter.
My only regret about this huge book is that so much of it will pass out of my memory in short order. Perhaps in a few years I will listen again, and that is high praise about so long a book from a person who almost never rereads.
Finally, though the book is decades old, written before the end of the Soviet Union, it still stands up very well, even read by Frederick Davidson in his sometimes irritatingly mannered style. I recommend it highly to any fan of well written popular history.
I take exception to the first reviewer's comments about the quality of the narration. I find Davidson's narration to be nuanced and enjoyable, and think it's a treat to experience Massie's thrilling biography as an audiobook. As I prepare for the publication of Massie's biography of Catherine the Great in the fall of 2011, it's a true pleasure to reencounter this classic work of biography/history as read by this accomplished narrator.
arbiter of great taste
I have been an Audible customer for many years. This is the first book for which I have wanted my money back. The narrator, who I'm sure is a nice guy, does not speak American English and I am tired of trying to figure out what the heck he's saying. I lived in NYC for 30 years and have a good understanding of dialects. This book could be great, but you'd never know.
Anyone who speaks American English.
Frustration, frustration, then anger.
Do not buy this book.
Semi-retired labor and delivery nurse, wife, mother and grandmother of 10. Love to read for pleasure. B&B owner in the Texas Hill Country.
Obviously from the headline, the narrator.
The details the author gleaned from so long ago gives the people of history life.
The affected, selective lisp. In many instances I could not even understand what word he was saying. Throughout the book, he occasionally said his s normally but usually tried real hard to lisp. It didn't even sound like a lisp sometimes but some childish rendition of a lisp. Leave your need for attention at home, Mr Davidson. Listeners are interested in what the author is saying, not in what you are saying. It is hard to believe that Blackstone didn't stop very early on in the process and get someone else. When he said his name at the end of the recording he pronounced his last name perfectly.
What? The book is about Peter the Great, not Robert Massie
This is somewhat like a history book but many personal details from letters written at the time brought it to a very interesting level. People definitely thought differently about many things. Some things haven't changed. Leaders of countries continue making huge decisions contrary to the welfare of the people supporting them.
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