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Massie's Catherine falls short of great
on September 3, 2012
Massie’s Catherine is an easy read. Here the life of this extraordinary woman is told in a comprehensive way, covering her multiple facets, and her personal and political struggles and achievements. If this is your first contact with Catherine’s life, this book is a great place to start. However, if you are more versed in the European and Russian history of the second half of the eighteenth century, you will find it wanting. The author is no Isabel de Madariaga, arguably the leading and unsurpassed scholar on Catherine. Nor is he in the league of Simon Sebag Montefiore, who is as great a historian as he is a writer. Massie's comments can unfortunately verge on the ridiculous (i.e. when comparing Catherine and Elizabeth I, he says: if she had been the daughter of a great king, and a virgin, the lives of these two would have been more similar), which for me, lessen an otherwise good effort.