If you love Russian history, you will love this book. The author also wrote Nicholas and Alexandra and goes into great detail about the life and times of Peter the Great, and the Byzantine politics and the barbarity of Russia during the 16th and 17th centuries. It was Peter who made the first attempts to bring Russia into the civilized world of western Europe and England during this period. This is a very large book and it took me a week and a half reading it every night, but I loved it.
The author brings to life Peter the Great, one of the most fascinating rulers I've ever read about. On the one hand, Peter was progressive and concerned about his people, often spending time at their houses, but on the other, Peter thought nothing of having a traitor drawn and quartered by a team of horses. Fortunately, much of Peter's early life was spent in other countries, learning what he could to benefit Russia, especially as it concerned shipping. This is a big book of 862 pages. The middle, for me, got bogged down with the details of the many wars Russia fought with the Turks, Sweden and Poland. Many of the wars, especially the ones with Sweden, were to gain control of the waterways to make travelling and trading more feasible. I'm sure a reader who likes the details of historical battles will like this book more than I did. The intrigues at court were more interesting to me as was Peter himself and his retinue.
Absolutely great presentation of history and the man and why he did what he did....it was a long read but really very well done. I reccommend it if you like history.
A very "readable" history of Peter the Great