Synopses & Reviews
Admired for her achievements and satirized for her personal life, Catherine the Great was one of the most celebrated monarchs in history, turning eighteenth-century Russia into arguably the largest and most powerful state since the fall of the Roman Empire. She promoted radical political ideas while emphasizing moderation in government. She could be ruthless when necessary, but she charmed everyone she met, joking at private dinner parties in the Hermitage, which she had built for her own use. Determined to endear herself to the Russians, she made religious devotions in which she never believed.
Intimate and revealing, Catherine the Great examines the lifelong friendships that sustained the empress throughout her personal life and places her within the context of the royal court: its politics, its flourishing literature and the very culture that became central to her exercise of absolute power.
“Like Catherine herself, Simon Dixons new biography is attractive, engaging, and very intelligent. It wears its scholarship lightly, too, but established fans of the Russian empress will find plenty of new material and those who are meeting her for the first time will be dazzled.” Catherine Merridale, author of Ivan's War and Night of Stone: Death and Memory in Russia
“There is lots new in this superb biography . . . [Dixon] manages to be scholarly, refreshing, commonsensical and compelling, vividly portraying the charismatic Empress and her times.” Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Sashenka and Young Stalin
In 1745, Princess Sophie Auguste Friderike of Anhalt-Zerbst married the nephew of Empress Elizabeth of Russia. Seventeen years later, she would be Catherine the Great, absolute ruler of the most powerful emerging empire in Europe and one of the most celebrated monarchs in history.
Ruthless, determined, cultured and charismatic, Catherine has been admired for her achievements but also subject to rumors about her personal life. Simon Dixon sets the record straight in this compelling, in-depth portrait. Catherine the Great is the unforgettable story of an autocrat who argued for moderation in government, a nonbeliever who embraced the Orthodox faith, and an empress who was beloved by the Russian people.
Simon Dixon is Sir Bernard Pares Professor of Russian History at University College London. He specializes in the history of imperial Russia, with particular focus on the eighteenth century and the Russian Orthodox Church. He is regularly invited to lecture on Russian culture to general audiences around the world and in the United States.
"There is lots new in this superb biography ... Dixon] manages to be scholarly, refreshing, commonsensical and compelling, vividly portraying the charismatic Empress and her times." -- Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Sashenka and Young Stalin
--Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Sashenka and Young Stalin
About the Author
Simon Dixon is Sir Bernard Pares Professor of Russian History at University College London.