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Peter the Great: A Biography

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This is the definitive short biography of Russia's dramatic, appealing, and unconventional Tsar Peter the Great. The book provides new insights into Peter's enigmatic character, his remarkable fantasy world, and his personal relationships, along with intriguing discussions of how painters and sculptors portrayed him and how he is remembered to the present day. This is the definitive short biography of Russia's dramatic, appealing, and unconventional Tsar Peter the Great. The book provides new insights into Peter's enigmatic character, his remarkable fantasy world, and his personal relationships, along with intriguing discussions of how painters and sculptors portrayed him and how he is remembered to the present day.


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This is the definitive short biography of Russia's dramatic, appealing, and unconventional Tsar Peter the Great. The book provides new insights into Peter's enigmatic character, his remarkable fantasy world, and his personal relationships, along with intriguing discussions of how painters and sculptors portrayed him and how he is remembered to the present day. This is the definitive short biography of Russia's dramatic, appealing, and unconventional Tsar Peter the Great. The book provides new insights into Peter's enigmatic character, his remarkable fantasy world, and his personal relationships, along with intriguing discussions of how painters and sculptors portrayed him and how he is remembered to the present day.

30 review for Peter the Great: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ruby

    A great biography and a great starting point for getting to know Peter the Great, imo. The author touched every subject, gave a general picture of 17th century Russia before diving into Peter I's life and, while I greatly appreciated it, some passages were still obscure to me... but it's probably my fault because I am a complete neophyte in Russian history. In any case, once the author started to talk about Peter the Great himself, both the book and the pace completely improved. I read this book A great biography and a great starting point for getting to know Peter the Great, imo. The author touched every subject, gave a general picture of 17th century Russia before diving into Peter I's life and, while I greatly appreciated it, some passages were still obscure to me... but it's probably my fault because I am a complete neophyte in Russian history. In any case, once the author started to talk about Peter the Great himself, both the book and the pace completely improved. I read this book for my early modern history exam and, while it was not my first choice, I truly enjoyed it and I think I will read some more about Peter the Great, his half-sister Sophia and his second wife Catherine (the future Catherine I)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    Hughes did a great job at condensing the mass amount of information available on Peter, but the structure of her biography was not reader-friendly and made an otherwise fascinating subject tedious. The reader doesn't know what to anticipate from each chapter and events from Peter's life seem haphazardly thrown together. However, like some of the reviewers before me, would like to comment on Hughes's interesting analysis of the artwork created depicting Peter. Loved her analysis. Hughes did a great job at condensing the mass amount of information available on Peter, but the structure of her biography was not reader-friendly and made an otherwise fascinating subject tedious. The reader doesn't know what to anticipate from each chapter and events from Peter's life seem haphazardly thrown together. However, like some of the reviewers before me, would like to comment on Hughes's interesting analysis of the artwork created depicting Peter. Loved her analysis.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Corey

    To me, imperial Russia is absolutely fascinating. I think it would be extremely difficult to write an uninteresting book about the subject, even if your approach is very straight forward, your prose is uninspired and your book reads like a list of biographical facts. Indeed, I do mean this book was all those things, but it was also a wonderful introduction to Peter the Great. This book provided a very feeling overall portrait of the man. After reading this book, I could talk about him as a perso To me, imperial Russia is absolutely fascinating. I think it would be extremely difficult to write an uninteresting book about the subject, even if your approach is very straight forward, your prose is uninspired and your book reads like a list of biographical facts. Indeed, I do mean this book was all those things, but it was also a wonderful introduction to Peter the Great. This book provided a very feeling overall portrait of the man. After reading this book, I could talk about him as a person and understand him in that way more than as a political figure. It was a great introduction that breezed through the main "plot points" of Peter's life and provided a fascinating look into early eighteenth century imperial Russia. The book itself was less than interesting but the topic's singular draw and intrigue carried the day and made the book worth reading.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    A friend loaned me this book before I went to Russia (in 2003) and I just now got around to finishing it. So I guess that shows I had some reservations from the beginning! I knew nothing about Peter the Great before this book, and I think maybe it was not a good choice for a beginner to Russian history. That said, it was not as dry as I had feared it would be. Peter the Great was one kooky guy. But this part of world history does not captivate me, and I believe this book is better for the reader A friend loaned me this book before I went to Russia (in 2003) and I just now got around to finishing it. So I guess that shows I had some reservations from the beginning! I knew nothing about Peter the Great before this book, and I think maybe it was not a good choice for a beginner to Russian history. That said, it was not as dry as I had feared it would be. Peter the Great was one kooky guy. But this part of world history does not captivate me, and I believe this book is better for the reader who has some knowledge of and interest in the Petrine era.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    A pretty good biography overall. I never realized quite how influential Peter the Great was to modern Russia. His legacy is amazing.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    This is fairly interesting but I can definitely believe the author’s comment in the introduction that this material was selected from an earlier draft thrice the size. It felt a bit brassic at times. Obviously a biography has to focus on the main subject but a little more information and context on the other players would have really rounded out the image. The one thing I think I would have liked to see developed further was the idea of ‘Peter the Freak’. This only really comes up as a swiftly d This is fairly interesting but I can definitely believe the author’s comment in the introduction that this material was selected from an earlier draft thrice the size. It felt a bit brassic at times. Obviously a biography has to focus on the main subject but a little more information and context on the other players would have really rounded out the image. The one thing I think I would have liked to see developed further was the idea of ‘Peter the Freak’. This only really comes up as a swiftly dismissed concept in the last chapters on Petrine reception in the modern era. Overall I think the author handles the infamous ‘parallel court’ and mock appointments quite well. Most historians dealing with characters with such foibles fall into one of two pitfalls; they either try to diagnose them, or they try to account for them with some kind of rational framework. This author, however, avoids both of these traps nimbly, refusing to try to find a materialist explanation for the ineffable and focusing on the measurable impact of the Tsar’s actions instead. This is quite a refreshing approach but I did feel that a bit more depth might have been warranted, particularly around the idea of Peter himself as Head Freak in Charge. The man was 6 foot 7 and had serious facial tics. He would not be the first visibly non-conforming person to lean into jokes and mockery in order to take control of the situation. When you think about what his reception around Europe would have been like, it starts to make a lot of sense why ridiculing ceremony at every turn and deliberately contravening precedent would be preferable to the potential embarrassment of trying to act the part. Most Europeans rulers on tour would expect gifts of clothes or cloth, a sumptuously decorated set of apartments for the duration, even furniture to take home with them. Then this giant shows up, someone whose proportions in court dress would be cause for ridicule even if an outfit that fitted could swiftly be put together. Being seated at a table only to find no specially sourced chair was prepared so his knees are up round his ears? Arriving at his appointed apartments to find a regular sized bed? Rulers throughout history have been well aware of the Streisand effect and I’m sure he knew that the harder he tried, or the more aggressively he came down on those who made comments or laughed, the more open he would be to mockery. Makes total sense to me that Peter would choose to rent his own accommodations, prepare his own fanciful outfits, and show up in a state of mirth already. In on the joke and in control of its direction! This is what I think is missing from the author’s assessment. It’s a discussion that would benefit from the otherwise good textual research shown throughout the book. I’d love to know how often Peter’s papers did or did not mention his body, spasming, necessary adjustments. Were there any official documents letting foreign hosts know about special needs or preparations required in advance of a visit? Did the internal papers of civil servants or diplomats ever mention any of this? I’d like to know more so it’s a shame the author missed this!

  7. 4 out of 5

    John Kaye

    Although I accept that Lindsey Hughes was a towering expert in all things to do with Russian history and her judgements and historical skills are widely praised, I still found this book hard going: there's something about her prose style that makes reading progress much slowly than the material should warrant. I turned to this book after making very slow progress with Russia in the Age of Peter the Great, but but even the much shorter length could get me over the writing style. And it's not easy Although I accept that Lindsey Hughes was a towering expert in all things to do with Russian history and her judgements and historical skills are widely praised, I still found this book hard going: there's something about her prose style that makes reading progress much slowly than the material should warrant. I turned to this book after making very slow progress with Russia in the Age of Peter the Great, but but even the much shorter length could get me over the writing style. And it's not easy to descibe exactly why this is so.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Will Clemmons

    Having to read this in a week was not fun. Now on to writing a review paper.

  9. 5 out of 5

    David

    Biografia

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ottilie

    School Reading

  11. 5 out of 5

    Blbatzer

    Fascinating story of a stark historical figure, and quite a tall one at that. Peter the Great was close to 7' tall! This was a must-read in anticipation of our upcoming trip to Russia. Fascinating story of a stark historical figure, and quite a tall one at that. Peter the Great was close to 7' tall! This was a must-read in anticipation of our upcoming trip to Russia.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Adam Gitter

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bhaskar Sunkara

  14. 4 out of 5

    Conan

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mejiro

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sam

  17. 4 out of 5

    William

  18. 4 out of 5

    Celeste - Una stanza tutta per me

  19. 4 out of 5

    Robert Hult

  20. 5 out of 5

    Seth

  21. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Allen

  22. 4 out of 5

    Keith

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stina

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Lebron

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marshall

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lucia Conticello

  27. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Hudson

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jc Jones

  29. 4 out of 5

    djsax22

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kris

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