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Catherine the Great Audiobook
Catherine the Great
Written by: 
Robert K. Massie
Narrated by: 
Mark Deakins
 >   > 
Catherine the Great Audiobook

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

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Publisher's Summary

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.”

©2011 Robert K. Massie (P)2011 Random House

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (917 )
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4.4 (772 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Lynn 04-11-12
    Lynn 04-11-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not a Biography Per Se"

    Robert K. Massie (Nicholas and Alexandra, Peter the Great, The Romanovs) has brought a very engaging portrait of Catherine the Great to readers. Massie relates the story of a German German princess who comes to rule Russia. Readers benefit from Massie’s ability as a writer and his broad knowledge of Russian history and life. I would suggest that Catherine the Great is not a biography per se, but a book that retells Catherine’s life story and places it in a broader context. He introduces characters pivotal in her live into the narrative, and biographically tells their stories as well. That did not trouble me. Readers who want more detail about Catherine in particular might be disappointed. Conversely, the details Massie provides certainly help readers to understand her life in context. A very good book. Entertaining. Reading of Mark Deakins is very good.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    pam Vero Beach, FL, United States 01-12-12
    pam Vero Beach, FL, United States 01-12-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "History made exciting!"
    Do you have any additional comments?

    I loved this book! It made the history of Russia come alive for me.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Olive Gale Mullet Big Rapids, MI 07-01-16
    Olive Gale Mullet Big Rapids, MI 07-01-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Great as was Catherine"

    The reader was wonderful, the telling of this historic character's rise to
    power enthralling. The complexity was not overwhelming because of reminders of what we'd heard before and the dominance of certain characters stood out over events

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meg 06-06-16
    Meg 06-06-16 Member Since 2015
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    4
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    "Great story telling!"

    Would definitely recommend this book even if I wasn't a Russian history buff. The narration is easy to listen to and the story is drawn from many perspectives. I can't wait to read more from Massie!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judy 04-08-16
    Judy 04-08-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Catherine"

    I enjoyed the many hours of listening. The clarity of voice and the interest of history. What an enjoyable way to relax and learn.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Victoria 02-28-16
    Victoria 02-28-16 Member Since 2015
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    23
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    Story
    "Great book!"
    Any additional comments?

    This is a well researched, well narrated, and extremely well written biography. It easily held my attention. This is a must keep on my bookshelf.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roz Spier Connecticut 01-26-16
    Roz Spier Connecticut 01-26-16

    Roz

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    "Remarkable woman"
    What made the experience of listening to Catherine the Great the most enjoyable?

    This is history I never learned in school, a fascinating period in European and Russian history. Catherine and her story are remarkable by any standards and this telling captures the drama.


    What does Mark Deakins bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He can pronounce and distinguish the daunting Russian names.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 01-18-16 Member Since 2015
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    5
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    "Loved it."

    Massey is a fantastic writer. Well researched book. The narrator was very good. Enjoyable to listen to. Definitely recommend this audio book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kate Allemond 08-13-15
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    "Great book but less interesting as it winds down"

    Really enjoyable, unfortunately it starts to get a little tedious once Catherine's personal accounts (through her memoirs) stop. I have not read anything else about her so I'm not sure how this material differs from others, but it was always interesting and painted a lovely portrait of her character and life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Reademandweep 06-25-15 Member Since 2014

    and a penny for your thoughts

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    3
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    "Informative. Not the most entertaining."

    This was better than reading a straight up history book. Mark Deakins was a fine choice as a narrator since this was straight up history, not much of a story.
    That being said, Catherine the great story certainly doesn't need a lot of embellishment. So, all in all I give this 3 stars because while I did listen to the entire book, it was rather boring at times and I did not look forward to listening but thought of it more as something I wanted to check off my bucket list and get done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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