Catherine the Great, by Robert K. Massie
Either I've become a more mature reader, or non-fiction authors are getting better at writing, because this is the third non-fiction book I've read recently that has been absolutely enthralling. Obviously, this book is about Catherine the Great, or Catherine the Second of Russia, who lived and ruled during the 18th Century. Catherine was an incredibly intelligent woman who helped bring Russian into the Enlightenment, but who ruled with an autocratic, iron fist. Massie's portrait of one of the most well-known women rulers is thorough and utterly engaging, minus some awkward editing and formatting towards the end. We learn about all aspects of Catherine's life: romantic, political, philosophical, artistic. She was truly a remarkable woman whose political aspirations were hindered only by the vastness of her empire. I greatly enjoyed reading this work and am impressed with Massie's research and writing skills, and certainly recommend this to anyone interested in biography, feminism, Russia, and history.