As Catherine offered voluminous correspondence both to and from others, Rounding has access to a very intimate account of her That is an unfortunate subtitle, because while she exercised power, and she fell in love often, and had plenty of sex, the empress of Russia between and was a far more interesting character than implied by those three words. This is the story of Catherine the woman, whom power alone could never satisfy, for she also wanted love, affection, friendship and humor. She also added an Epilogue, which provides a nice, brief summary of how the rest of the Romanov family of rulers hailed until their reign came to an end when Nicholas II's family was assasinated. It's exceedingly detailed, and yet I didn't really get tired of reading. Rounding writes a biography focusing on her personal life more than the specifics of political and military gains which her reign achieved. Catherine was an interesting woman wh Rounding's biography of Catherine the Great, former Empress of Russia, is a long, but compelling and objective read. Rounding used painstaking research, most of it first hand, to give a detailed view of Catherine's life as a young child through the day of her death. Born in Germany but transplanted to Russia to Yet the great Catherine was not even Russian by birth and had no legitimate claim to the Russian throne; she seized it and held on to it, through wars, rebellions and plagues, by the force of her personality, by her charm and determination, and by an unshakable belief in her own destiny. She took the enlightened approach to ruling, yet applied it in a maternalistic manner. Catherine's reign also sets Russia up for what was to come next, even though Catherine of course had no idea at the time how those that she left behind would leave their mark on Russian history and the world. It's amazing how much money was spent on entertainment, building great homes, gardens, art collections and even gems. Catherine was an interesting woman who was learned, had political savvy, and a great appreciation for the arts.