Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman - Robert K. Massie

She was born into minor Prussian nobility in 1729 and named Sophia Augusta Fredericka, but she would die 67 years later as Catherine The Great (Random House, $35), an empress of tremendous intellect and passions. Robert Massie, the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Peter the Great, has written a masterfully researched and compelling account of Catherine’s draconian childhood and disastrous arranged marriage, at age fourteen, to the mentally and physically impaired heir to the throne of a culturally backward Russia.  The marriage was never consummated, but Catherine had three children by three different lovers.  During her reign she became a politically powerful and culturally influential force, leading armies, negotiating treaties, and corresponding with Voltaire and Diderot in an attempt to bring the aesthetic ferment of the French Enlightenment to an unsophisticated population. She also recruited European doctors to bring modern medical practices to St. Petersburg and Moscow, where she founded those cities’ first medical schools and hospitals.  Massie is so skilled at writing biography, and his subject is such a brilliant, multi-dimensional, and magnetic woman, that the combination makes for one of the best books of the season.

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman By Robert K. Massie Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679456728
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Random House - November 8th, 2011

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman By Robert K. Massie Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345408778
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - September 18th, 2012

Travels in Siberia - Ian Frazier

When a writer as indefatigable as Ian Frazier tackles a subject as riveting and multifaceted as the northern third of Asia, then you get a remarkable study like TRAVELS IN SIBERIA (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30). Criss-crossing Siberia’s eight time zones—traveling mostly via automobile, lodging with locals or camping outside—Frazier explores the land, history, literature, and people of this vast, stunningly diverse region that technically doesn’t exist,  politically or geographically. This meaty tome centers on a series of trips Frazier took to far-eastern Russia (“the greatest horrible country in the world”) between 1993 and 2009. His trademark mix of serious reportage and contagious curiosity makes Travels in Siberia an essential modern classic.

Travels in Siberia By Ian Frazier Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312610609
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - September 27th, 2011

Stalin's Children: Three Generations of Love, War, and Survival - Owen Matthews

Stalin’s Children (Walker, $26) profiles three remarkable generations of one family in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. Newsweek’s Moscow bureau chief Owen Matthews balances personal memoir with historical artifact to provide a vivid account of his half-Russian, half-British family. Matthews’s grandfather was a Soviet propagandist who disappeared in Stalin’s purges, leaving Matthews’s mother, Lyudmila, an orphan. His father was an Oxford student courted by the KGB but expelled from the USSR after he fell in love with Lyudmila. With recourse to KGB files, love letters, his own empathy and narrative talent, Matthews offers an enthrallingly personal story of seemingly impersonal forces and events. Matthews’s family was affected by everything from the first five-year plan to Stalin’s funeral, from Gorbachev’s college years to the USSR’s collapse. A lot of history—but when put in the perspective of one remarkable family, fascinating and comprehensible.

Stalin's Children: Three Generations of Love, War, and Survival By Owen Matthews Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802717603
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Walker Books - September 8th, 2009