We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
Catherine the Great Audiobook

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

Regular Price:$42.00
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

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 (956 )
5 star
 (496)
4 star
 (315)
3 star
 (110)
2 star
 (20)
1 star
 (15)
Overall
4.4 (799 )
5 star
 (455)
4 star
 (239)
3 star
 (76)
2 star
 (17)
1 star
 (12)
Story
4.4 (805 )
5 star
 (462)
4 star
 (251)
3 star
 (69)
2 star
 (11)
1 star
 (12)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    VMC Seattle 09-05-12
    VMC Seattle 09-05-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    117
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Amazing!! Great storytelling."
    Where does Catherine the Great rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top 3. It makes me sit longer in my car just to hear a few more minutes before going in to work.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Catherine the Great?

    N/a


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

    Comfortable voice and articulation is wonderful!


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I cheered for Catherine!


    Any additional comments?

    Usually books with Russian names make for tough audiobooks. It's hard to follow their names. But this book is written so well there is no trouble! Wonderful timeline and detailed story of an amazing time in history!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suman Amarnath Hyderabad, India 08-31-12
    Suman Amarnath Hyderabad, India 08-31-12 Member Since 2012

    Suman Amarnath

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    20
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Compelling Read"

    Robert K Massie has now tackled both the giants of Russian History: Peter and Catherine! From her relatively humble beginnings as Sophia of Anhalt-Zerbst we begin to see this 18th century monarch sometimes as a present day adolescent, a frustrated wife, a political leader or even a celebrity. Like he did with Peter, Massie weaves in the more mundane aspects of biographical writing - the politics, the policies and the more risque ones with great skill. He is at the top of his oeuvre and it shows. But then this is such great material to work with! If you think of Catherine as the art collector, as the queen with deviant sexual tastes then this book will be a revelation. She comes across as an autocrat but not a despot, an enlightenment enthusiast only more practical and a woman who seeks the company of intelligent men: be it Voltaire or her great lover Potempkin.

    The narration by Mark Deakins is, like all good narrations, un-noticeable. His ability to subtly change voices when para phrasing different characters never sounds contrived and by the end you will miss the friendly tone telling a good yarn. And you'll miss Catherine!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Augusta, GA, United States 08-27-12
    Kim Augusta, GA, United States 08-27-12 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    37
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good Listen"

    Massie really puts the research in to make this the consummate biography about Catherine. I have a new respect for her legacy. Entertaining because I find it fascinating to understand how life was back in her time. Sick? Just bleed 'em!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Holbrook coastal North Carolina 08-20-12
    Karen Holbrook coastal North Carolina 08-20-12 Member Since 2009

    Dixie Kangaroo

    HELPFUL VOTES
    31
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    169
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating Childhood"
    What did you love best about Catherine the Great?

    Her strange relationship with her husband, Peter III


    What did you like best about this story?

    The section about her courtship and early marriage.


    Have you listened to any of Mark Deakins’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clayman 07-25-12
    Clayman 07-25-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    60
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Dreadful"
    Would you try another book from Robert K. Massie and/or Mark Deakins?

    I have read most of Mr. Massie's major works and thoroughly enjoyed their readability, construction and information. The reading of this however made one of the most fascinating lives in history in such an interesting time seem dull.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Robert K. Massie again?

    Yes.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Mark Deakins?

    Someone that cares about the material.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Catherine the Great?

    I would have advised Mr. Deakins not to use an effeminate voice to narrate Catherine. It was distracting and irritating.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S FRAMINGHAM, MA, United States 07-09-12
    S FRAMINGHAM, MA, United States 07-09-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    40
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    198
    43
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Learning history made easy"

    It's not only a detailed description of a woman, but also the personal view of a ruler and an insight of a period in history as viewed from the perspective of the Russian Empire in the context of European history. I definitely recommend it. Good for general knowledge and understanding the political dynamics that create history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Plymouth, Mongolia 06-03-12
    William Plymouth, Mongolia 06-03-12 Member Since 2008
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Misplaced energy"
    What would have made Catherine the Great better?

    This book spent little time trying to understand the choices Catherine the Second, had to make in leading her country, her style of leadership, and her vision for Russia. If she was a leader what was her philosophy. Balancing her role as a vibrant woman with her role as executive would have made a more satisfying book


    What was most disappointing about Robert K. Massie’s story?

    There is a great deal of time spent on interpersonal relationships and even dalliances. Trivial issues are repeated many times.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The best scene was her decision to overthrow her husband, that was described with great drama and visual effect.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    This book does help the reader understand her decisions as far as relationships.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beda Helena, MT, United States 05-29-12
    Beda Helena, MT, United States 05-29-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The best"

    This is a masterfully written book about an important and fascinating era in history. The reader was excellent.
    Don't be afraid of its length; it reads like a great novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 05-14-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Royalty is insane and inhuman."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. It's a wonderful history of both the personal and social. For the first time I considered what was going on in the U.S. at the time of our founding relative to Russia. The Enlightenment had a powerful impact on Katherine but she could not implement it because the current structure simply wouldn't allow it. Also, the question of serfs and slavery and how both countries ended up dealing with the issue.

    I also loved that two strong women, Alexandra and then Katherine ruled Russia for so long and during a transitional period.

    I was stunned at the way Alexandra took Katherine's children.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The social history.


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

    His pronounciations in the original language adds authenticity and somehow is transportive.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    What women need to know to lead.


    Any additional comments?

    Great book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gloria Greensboro, NC, United States 04-23-12
    Gloria Greensboro, NC, United States 04-23-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Woman Liberated Before Women's Liberation"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, fascinating detail of court life in 18th and 19th century Russia


    What other book might you compare Catherine the Great to and why?

    Comparable to the Henry VII bio I am currently reading.


    What about Mark Deakins’s performance did you like?

    His pronounciation of Russian names -- a challenge for anyone -- was perfection. His diction was also very understandable.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No way -- it is way too long. But it was easy to take up where you left off. I read the book over a period of several weeks -- and I tend to be a all-in-one-day reader.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.