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Catherine the Great and Potemkin
Simon Sebag Montefiore
Publisher:Orion Publishing Co
Antony and Cleopatra. Napoleon and Josephine. To these great love affairs that helped change history must be added the lesser-known, but just as influential couple: Catherine the Great of Russia and Grigory Potemkin. The name 'Potemkin' is best-known today for a battleship mutiny at the time of the Russian revolution, rather than as the one-eyed, fat, vain, autocratic lover of Empress Catherine, the only man she treated as an equal, who commanded her armies, helped her rule the country and develop the Russian empire. Potemkin's life is about power, lust and love, as enthralling a love story as any fiction. Born of a loveless marriage, he worked his way up through the ranks of the Russian army. He first met the Empress Catherine while he was on guard duty in St Petersburg. German-born, she was married at fourteen for dynastic reasons, but her marriage was never consummated. She took a procession of lovers, but showed the longest fidelity to Potemkin. The thousands of letters he and Catherine exchanged (often several times each day) are one of the sources of Simon Sebag Montifiore's biography.'This well researched and highly ambitious biography has succeeded triumphantly in re-creating the life of an extraordinary man' Antony Beevor, Sunday Times
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