Henri Troyat writes history as it is rarely written today - with elegance, wit, dramatic flair, and an intimate knowledge of the characters. And what better subject for a biography than Catherine the Great, the German-born Russian empress whose adopted language and culture were French, whose most loyal correspondents were Voltaire and Diderot? From her birth in Stettin in 1729 to her death in 1796, Troyat details the various lives of Catherine II: the ambitious child, the acquiescent but firm grand duchess, the forceful politician and patron of the arts, the belligerent war maker, doting grandparent, and lover of men. By delving into the life of this influential ruler, Troyat reveals the rich tapestry of Russia's past, giving insight into the paradoxical character of its people and their stunning evolution from feudalism to communism to their present-day struggle for a free-market democracy.
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