Peter the Great


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A Biography

Lindsey Hughes

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The definitive short biography of the enigmatic Peter the Great

Peter the Great (1672–1725), tsar of Russia for forty-three years, was a dramatic, appealing, and unconventional character. This book provides a vivid sense of the dynamics of his life—both public and private—and his reign.

Drawing on his letters and papers, as well as on other contemporary accounts, the book provides new insights into Peter’s complex character, giving information on his actions, deliberations, possessions, and significant fantasy world--his many disguises and pseudonyms, his interest in dwarfs, his clowning and vandalism. It also sheds fresh light on his relationships with individuals such as his second wife Catherine and his favorite, Alexander Menshikov. The book includes discussions of Peter’s image in painting and sculpture, and there are two final chapters on his legacy and posthumous reputation up to the present.

Lindsey Hughes is professor of Russian history at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. She is also the author of the classic work Russia in the Age of Peter the Great.

A main selection of the History Book Club

“Greeted with universal acclaim as both authoritative and readable.”—Contemporary Review

“Hughes’s book will become a standard adoption for university courses in Russian history.”—Norman E. Saul, History: Reviews of New Books

“Writing with considerable elegance and verve, Hughes has produced a highly accessible account of the life of Russia’s most important monarch in a critical time of political and cultural change. . . . Hughes gives us the best account of [the visual images of Peter and his reign] available. . . . Her greatest achievement, however, is to create a popular biography that frees Peter’s life from virtually all of the myths and legends created by the commercial journalism and court rumors of the eighteenth century. This may sound like a modest achievement, but it required not only scholarly acumen but also a certain amount of courage. The result is a short account that should reach a wide audience and remain definitive for the immediate future.”—Paul Bushkovitch, Journal of Modern History

“This book will likely become a standard for scholars and students who want a short but comprehensive account of Peter the Great.”—Publishers Weekly

“Hughes’s new book can be recommended without hesitation to anyone looking for an authoritative account of its subject, or just for a good historical read.”—James Cracraft, Slavic Review

In her splendid new biography, Lindsey Hughes deconstructs these mythic images and bring us closer to the true face of the Tsar."—Orlando Figes, Sunday Telegraph

“Hughes’s elegant portrait of the dynamic and troubled ruler who gave Russia its modern European orientation is balanced and comprehensive enough to be used as a reference work by specialists, while it is written in such a manner that it can be read and enjoyed by a general reader.”—Peter C. Pozefsky, The Historian

“This gem bids fair to make all other condensed treatments in English outdated and inadequate. . . . Her excellent scholarship is conveyed in lively prose that will be accessible to all and delight most. . . . Hughes’s new achievement struck me as one of the most impressive and enjoyable books that I have read in the last several decades. Bravo, Lindsey!”—John T. Alexander, The Russian Review

“Fascinating and compellingly readable…[a] superb short biography.”—Simon Sebag Montefiore, Literary Review

“[An] excellent biography."—Kevin Sharpe, Sunday Times
ISBN: 9780300103007
Publication Date: March 11, 2004
324 pages, 6 x 9 1/4
31 b/w illus.