Peter the Great by Dr. Lindsey Hughes
A Biography

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Synopsis

Lindsey Hughes, author of an account of Russia during the reign of Peter the Great, here provides a shorter biography of this dramatic, appealing and unconventional character. The work tells the story of Peter the Great (1672-1725) from birth to death in 12 chapters, including two final chapters on his legacy and posthumous reputation, with the aim of providing a vivid sense of the dynamics of his life and reign. The focus is firmly on Peter himself: his actions, deliberations, decisions, relationships, tastes and possessions, and includes the more bizarre aspects of his character, such as his interest in dwarfs, the use of disguises, clowning and vandalism. The main sources are his letters and papers, both published and unpublished, as well as other contemporary accounts and letters. The narrative comprises both the public and private life, the life Peter lived as well as his significant fantasy world. Hughes offers material on the "alternative" or "parallel" history of Peter's many disguises and pseudonyms, his deference to a number of mock superiors (Prince-Caesar, Prince-Pope, the mock Chief Surveyor), and his relationships with individuals such as his second wife Catherine and his favourite Alexander Menshikov. In each chapter she explores Peter's image in painting and sculpture, bringing the story up to the present day with a discussion of controversial monuments in Moscow and St Petersburg. The text aims to be readable and accessible, but also scholarly in the sense that it is firmly based on the primary source material and does not attempt to reconstruct Peter's life beyond the evidence. It seeks to provide insights into Peter's complex character.
 

About Dr. Lindsey Hughes

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Lindsey Hughes is professor of Russian history at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London.
 
Published October 1, 2002 by Yale University Press. 304 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel. Non-fiction

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Following up on Russia in the Age of Peter the Great (1998), Hughes (History/University Coll., London) returns to familiar terrain with a new focus: the life of the man who dominated the vast Russian stage from the time he inherited the throne at age ten until his death in 1725.

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Publishers Weekly

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All of the important topics about the single individual who did more to affect the course of imperial Russian history than any other are covered here in remarkable detail: Peter the Great's establishment of Russia as a military power with his victory in the Great Northern War;

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Publishers Weekly

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Peter the Great, who ruled Russia from 1682 to 1725, has gone down in history as the man who opened Russia to the West.

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Reviews in History

Foreign envoys were able to gather accurate intelligence - sometimes in advance of events - because they were close either to the tsar's entourage (as was the Dane, Magnus Gjøe, who relied in the 1670s on Matveev's confidant, Paul Menzies) or to an influential aristocratic family (as was the Prus...

Oct 30 2009 | Read Full Review of Peter the Great: A Biography

Reviews in History

Professor Hellie, with his mild rebuke about my failure to tally how many thousands of corpses comprised the foundation of St Petersburg (although I do state how many forced labourers were sent to work there, p.213), is not the first reviewer to note my failure to condemn Peter's cruelty outri...

Nov 08 2009 | Read Full Review of Peter the Great: A Biography

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