Peter the Great
Biographer and novelist Derek Wilson isn’t new to the game of whisking readers off to distant times to focus on famous historical figures. He’s been doing it for thirty years. Readers who have tasted his bestselling and highly readable Charlemagne and In the Lion’s Court will find it hard to imagine how he might top them until they pick up Peter the Great.
Here, Wilson shows off his amazing knack for presenting the reader with detailed, well-researched facts while inviting us into the mind and emotions of a man who brought Russia into Europe and created a stunning new international power to be reckoned with. Most amazing is his portrayal of the fragility of Peter Romanov’s early years, when his brother and sister, and the powerful factions supporting them, threatened his very existence. This was a man who calculatingly remained under the radar until the time was right, spending his restless temperament traveling Europe, gathering experts who would eventually help him build a grand city, go to war with Sweden to provide Russia with a seaport, and create a Navy to rival that of the British Empire. He was ruthless and dangerous, intelligent and single-minded in his purpose, unpredictable to his enemies and loyal to those he loved. Peter, like anyone, had good days and bad, and Wilson makes him breathe on the page.
This is what good biographies should be, an intimate glimpse into the life of a person whose impact on the world is still felt.