Empress Catherine II brought Europe to Russia, and Russia to Europe, during her long and eventful reign (1762--96). She fostered the culture of the Enlightenment and greatly expanded the immense empire created by Czar Ivan the Terrible, shifting the balance of power in Europe eastward. Famous for her will to power and for her dozen lovers, Catherine was also a prolific and gifted writer.Fluent in French, Russian, and German, Catherine published political theory, journalism, comedies, operas, and history, while writing thousands of letters as she corresponded with Voltaire and other public figures. The Memoirs of Catherine the Great provides an unparalleled window into eighteenth-century Russia and the mind of an absolute ruler. With insight, humor, and candor, Catherine presents her eyewitness account of history, from her whirlwind entry into the Russian court in 1744 at age fourteen as the intended bride of Empress Elizabeth I's nephew, the eccentric drunkard and future Peter III, to her unhappy marriage; from her two children, several miscarriages, and her and Peter's numerous affairs to the political maneuvering that enabled Catherine to seize the throne from him in 1762. Catherine's eye for telling details makes for compelling reading as she describes the dramatic fall and rise of her political fortunes. This definitive new translation from the French is scrupulously faithful to her words and is the first for which translators have consulted original manuscripts written in Catherine's own hand. It is an indispensable work for anyone interested in Catherine the Great, Russian history, or the eighteenth century.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra, and The Romanovs returns with another masterpiece of narrative biography, the extraordinary story of an obscure German princess who became one of the most remarkable, powerful, and captivating women in history. Born into a minor noble family, Catherine transformed herself into empress of Russia by sheer determination. For thirty-four years, the government, foreign policy, cultural development, and welfare of the Russian people were in her hands. She dealt with domestic rebellion, foreign wars, and the tidal wave of political change and violence churned up by the French Revolution. Catherine's family, friends, ministers, generals, lovers, and enemies--all are here, vividly brought to life. History offers few stories richer than that of Catherine the Great. In this book, an eternally fascinating woman is returned to life. " A] compelling portrait not just of a Russian titan, but also of a flesh-and-blood woman."--Newsweek
"An absorbing, satisfying biography."--Los Angeles Times "Juicy and suspenseful."--The New York Times Book Review
"A great life, indeed, and irresistibly told."--Salon
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
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Illicit love, madness, betrayal--it isn't always good to be the queenMarie Antoinette, Anne Boleyn, and Mary, Queen of Scots. What did they have in common? For a while they were crowned in gold, cosseted in silk, and flattered by courtiers. But in the end, they spent long nights in dark prison towers and were marched to the scaffold where they surrendered their heads to the executioner. And they are hardly alone in their undignified demises. Throughout history, royal women have had a distressing way of meeting bad ends--dying of starvation, being burned at the stake, or expiring in childbirth while trying desperately to produce an heir. They always had to be on their toes and all too often even devious plotting, miraculous pregnancies, and selling out their sisters was not enough to keep them from forcible consignment to religious orders. From Cleopatra (suicide by asp), to Princess Caroline (suspiciously poisoned on her coronation day), there's a gory downside to being blue-blooded when you lack a Y chromosome. Kris Waldherr's elegant little book is a chronicle of the trials and tribulations of queens across the ages, a quirky, funny, utterly macabre tribute to the dark side of female empowerment. Over the course of fifty irresistibly illustrated and too-brief lives, Doomed Queens charts centuries of regal backstabbing and intrigue. We meet well-known figures like Catherine of Aragon, whose happy marriage to Henry VIII ended prematurely when it became clear that she was a starter wife--the first of six. And we meet forgotten queens like Amalasuntha, the notoriously literate Ostrogoth princess who overreached politically and was strangled in her bath. While their ends were bleak, these queens did not die without purpose. Their unfortunate lives are colorful cautionary tales for today's would-be power brokers--a legacy of worldly and womanly wisdom gathered one spectacular regal ruin at a time.
This richly entertaining biography chronicles the eventful life of Queen Victoria's firstborn son, the quintessential black sheep of Buckingham Palace, who matured into as wise and effective a monarch as Britain has ever seen. Granted unprecedented access to the royal archives, noted scholar Jane Ridley draws on numerous primary sources to paint a vivid portrait of the man and the age to which he gave his name. Born Prince Albert Edward, and known to familiars as "Bertie," the future King Edward VII had a well-earned reputation for debauchery. A notorious gambler, glutton, and womanizer, he preferred the company of wastrels and courtesans to the dreary life of the Victorian court. His own mother considered him a lazy halfwit, temperamentally unfit to succeed her. When he ascended to the throne in 1901, at age fifty-nine, expectations were low. Yet by the time he died nine years later, he had proven himself a deft diplomat, hardworking head of state, and the architect of Britain's modern constitutional monarchy. Jane Ridley's colorful biography rescues the man once derided as "Edward the Caresser" from the clutches of his historical detractors. Excerpts from letters and diaries shed new light on Bertie's long power struggle with Queen Victoria, illuminating one of the most emotionally fraught mother-son relationships in history. Considerable attention is paid to King Edward's campaign of personal diplomacy abroad and his valiant efforts to reform the political system at home. Separating truth from legend, Ridley also explores Bertie's relationships with the women in his life. Their ranks comprised his wife, the stunning Danish princess Alexandra, along with some of the great beauties of the era: the actress Lillie Langtry, longtime "royal mistress" Alice Keppel (the great-grandmother of Camilla Parker Bowles), and Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Winston. Edward VII waited nearly six decades for his chance to rule, then did so with considerable panache and aplomb. A magnificent life of an unexpectedly impressive king, The Heir Apparent documents the remarkable transformation of a man--and a monarchy--at the dawn of a new century. Praise for The Heir Apparent "If The Heir Apparent] isn't the definitive life story of this fascinating figure of British history, then nothing ever will be."--The Christian Science Monitor
"The Heir Apparent is smart, it's fascinating, it's sometimes funny, it's well-documented and it reads like a novel, with Bertie so vivid he nearly leaps from the page, cigars and all."--Minneapolis Star Tribune
"I closed The Heir Apparent with admiration and a kind of wry exhilaration."--The Wall Street Journal "Ridley is a serious scholar and historian, who keeps Bertie's flaws and virtues in a fine balance."--The Boston Globe "Brilliantly entertaining . . . a landmark royal biography."--The Sunday Telegraph "Superb."--The New York Times Book Review
A behind-the-scenes look into the life of Meghan Markle and her romance with Prince Harry--a dishy, delightful must-read filled with exclusive insights for anyone obsessed with the Royal Family.
Leslie Carroll's books on royalty are "an irresistible combination of People Magazine and the History Channel."--Chicago Tribune
When Prince Harry of Wales took his American girlfriend, Meghan Markle, to have tea with his grandmother the queen, avid royal watchers had a hunch that a royal wedding was not far off. That prediction came true on November 27, 2017, when the gorgeous, glamorous twosome announced their engagement to the world. As they prepare to tie the knot in a stunning ceremony on May 19, 2018, that will be unprecedented in royal history, people are clamoring to know more about the beautiful American who captured Prince Harry's heart.
Born and raised in Los Angeles to a white father of German, English, and Irish descent and an African American mother whose ancestors had been enslaved on a Georgia plantation, Meghan has proudly embraced her biracial heritage. In addition to being a star of the popular television series Suits, she is devoted to her humanitarian work--a passion she shares with Harry. Though Meghan was married once before, Prince Harry is a modern royal, and the Windsors have welcomed her into the tight-knit clan they call "The Firm." Even a generation ago, it would have been unthinkable, as well as impermissible, for any member of Great Britain's royal family to consider marrying someone like Meghan. Professional actresses were considered scandalous and barely respectable. And the last time an American divorcee married into the Royal Family, it provoked a constitutional crisis
In American Princess, Leslie Carroll provides context to Harry and Meghan's romance by leading readers through centuries of Britain's rule-breaking royal marriages, as well as the love matches that were never permitted to make it to the altar; followed by a never-before-seen glimpse into the little-known life of the woman bringing the Royal Family into the 21st century; and her dazzling, thoroughly modern romance with Prince Harry.
"The most intimate book ever written about the Royals."--The Mail on Sunday
This fully updated edition of a classic biography is a revealing portrait of the most famous woman in the world through the eyes of those who've known her and worked with her over the years. Now, in her sixtieth year on the throne, Brian Hoey uses unrivaled access to past and present members of the Royal household to take a searching look at the ups and downs of Her Majesty's long reign.
Brian Hoey is a writer and broadcaster who has covered countless Royal events. He lives in Cardiff, Wales.
ECONOMIST BOOK OF THE YEAR
FINANCIAL TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR Film rights acquired by Gold Circle Films, the team behind My Big Fat Greek Wedding
"A fresh, thrilling portrait... Guy's Elizabeth is deliciously human."
-Stacy Schiff, The New York Times Book Review A groundbreaking reconsideration of our favorite Tudor queen, Elizabeth is an intimate and surprising biography that shows her at the height of her power. Elizabeth was crowned queen at twenty-five, but it was only when she reached fifty and all hopes of a royal marriage were behind her that she began to wield power in her own right. For twenty-five years she had struggled to assert her authority over advisers, who pressed her to marry and settle the succession; now, she was determined not only to reign but to rule. In this magisterial biography, John Guy introduces us to a woman who is refreshingly unfamiliar: at once powerful and vulnerable, willful and afraid. We see her confronting challenges at home and abroad: war against France and Spain, revolt in Ireland, an economic crisis that triggers riots in the streets of London, and a conspiracy to place her cousin Mary Queen of Scots on her throne. For a while she is smitten by a much younger man, but can she allow herself to act on that passion and still keep her throne? For the better part of a decade John Guy mined long-overlooked archives, scouring handwritten letters and court documents to sweep away myths and rumors. This prodigious historical detective work has enabled him to reveal, for the first time, the woman behind the polished veneer: determined, prone to fits of jealous rage, wracked by insecurity, often too anxious to sleep alone. At last we hear her in her own voice expressing her own distinctive and surprisingly resonant concerns. Guy writes like a dream, and this combination of groundbreaking research and propulsive narrative puts him in a class of his own. "Significant, forensic and myth-busting, John Guy inspires total confidence in a narrative which is at once pacey and rich in detail."
-- Anna Whitelock, TLS "Most historians focus on the early decades, with Elizabeth's last years acting as a postscript to the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots and the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Guy argues that this period is crucial to understanding a more human side of the smart redhead." - The Economist, Book of the Year
A Charmed Life tells the story of Liza Campbell, the last child to be born at the impressive and renowned Cawdor Castle, the same locale featured in Shakespeare's Macbeth. It was at the historical ancestral home that Liza's seemingly idyllic fairytale childhood began to resemble a nightmare.
Increasingly overwhelmed by his enormous responsibilities, Liza's father Hugh, the twenty-fifth Thane of Cawdor, tipped into madness fueled by drink, drugs, and extramarital affairs. Over the years, the castle was transformed into an arena of reckless extravagance and terrifying domestic violence, as Liza and her siblings watched their father destroy himself, his family, and their centuries-old legacy.
Painstakingly honest, thoroughly entertaining, and sharply written, Campbell's contemporary fairytale tells of growing up as a maiden in a castle where ancient curses and grisly events from centuries ago live on between its stone walls.
" A] courageous memoir . . . a page turner set among moats, drawbridges, and portcullises both real and metaphorical." --Vogue
"Superbly written." --Harper's Bazaar
"Poignant . . . lovely." --Entertainment Weekly
"Edged with relentless wit . . . A Charmed Life is a] nightmarish memoir that gives fiction a run for its money." --Kirkus Reviews
"Intriguing... a] highly readable story...extraordinary." --Tucson Citizen
Set against the backdrop of the thirteenth century, a time of chivalry and crusades, troubadors, knights and monarchs, Four Queens is the story of four provocative sisters--Marguerite, Eleanor, Sanchia, and Beatrice of Provence--who rose from near obscurity to become the most coveted and powerful women in Europe. Each sister in this extraordinary family was beautiful, cultured, and accomplished but what made these women so remarkable was that each became queen of a principal European power--France, England, Germany and Sicily. During their reigns, they exercised considerable political authority, raised armies, intervened diplomatically and helped redraw the map of Europe. Theirs is a drama of courage, sagacity and ambition that re-examines the concept of leadership in the Middle Ages.