Peter the Great
Russia's Greatest General
The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Best seller by the author of DREADNOUGHT.
Against the monumental canvas of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe and Russia
unfolds the magnificent story of Peter the Great, one of the most extraordinary rulers in
history. Impetuous and stubborn, generous and cruel, tender and unforgiving, a
man of enormous energy and complexity, Peter the Great is brought fully to life in this
exceptional biography. "As fascinating as any novel and more so than
most." -- New York Times Book Review.
Like the luckless hero of Pushkin's "The Bronze Horseman," driven mad by St. Petersburg floods, all of Russia is in some sense
pursued by the ghost of Peter the Great. Literally larger than life at six foot
seven inches, the country's alternately revered and reviled monarch was a man of intense
contradictions: famous for introducing Western modes of speech, custom, and thought, he
also strengthened the dubious Russian traditions of autocracy and serfdom. Present-day
Russians are similarly divided over the Petrine legacy. Admirers point to his
striking imperial achievements as well as his success in promoting learning, science, and
clerical and legal reform. Critics see in his harsh totalitarian rule the antecedent for
despots like Stalin. Either way, it's clear that he was the single person most
responsible for dragging Russia from the Middle Ages into the Enlightenment.
In Lindsey Hughes's massive, meticulously detailed history, Russia in the Age of Peter the
Great, the tsar is depicted warts and all. It's a balanced view, presented in
lucid, jargon-free prose and supported by impeccable research. Hughes delves
into not only the familiar territory of Peter's military and naval innovations, but also
previously under explored topics such as the changing role of women under his
rule. Most intriguingly, she cites the tsar's fondness for masks,
role-playing, and disguise. The chapters detailing the peculiarities of
Peter's psychology make for perhaps the most absorbing reading in a book full of insights
and surprises. Sufficiently rigorous for scholars yet eminently accessible to
the general reader, Russia in the Age of Peter the Great is an invaluable addition to the
literature surrounding this complicated and fascinating man. --Mary Park
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