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 (1084 )
5 star
 (581)
4 star
 (349)
3 star
 (119)
2 star
 (20)
1 star
 (15)
Overall
4.4 (913 )
5 star
 (533)
4 star
 (264)
3 star
 (85)
2 star
 (19)
1 star
 (12)
Story
4.4 (920 )
5 star
 (544)
4 star
 (276)
3 star
 (77)
2 star
 (11)
1 star
 (12)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Lynn 04-11-12
    Lynn 04-11-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    869
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    162
    144
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    381
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
    17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
  •  
    04-24-17
    04-24-17 Member Since 2017
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "great production of Massie's work"

    This is an excellent book, written by a profound writer and delivered via an excellent performance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 03-20-17 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    27
    19
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very insightful"

    I recently visited Russia and Catherine The Great's palaces. This story brought so much to life for me. I didn't realize she had so many lovers. More importantly she initiated the first inoculations against Small Pox in her country. She was the grandmother to Nicholas Romanov the last Czar and ruler of Russia. Catherine The Great could have fore told his ending because she was determined to free Serfs. Also she lived through the overthrow of Louis VI and Marie Antoinette's rule in France.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angie Cross Bly Markleeville, CA 03-11-17
    Angie Cross Bly Markleeville, CA 03-11-17 Member Since 2015

    Sundog

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating woman"

    A woman who on the whole ruled very wisely. Narration was a bit sporific. Writing scholarly

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    eleanneh 01-09-17
    eleanneh 01-09-17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic!!"

    I found this book very interesting and much easier to absorb than many biographies. I will be looking for other Robert Massie books to read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tammy A Lee Saginaw, MI United States 08-16-16
    Tammy A Lee Saginaw, MI United States 08-16-16 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    46
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good overview"

    I liked the balanced portrait of this powerful woman. The author did a commendable job of explaining Catherine's motivation and her triumphs and defeats. Overall it was a thorough overview of her life. I would have liked just a bit more on her relationship with Paul.

    0 of 0 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
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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

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.