Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman is the latest epic biography by Robert Massie, an author who has written many fascinating books dealing with Russia and her historic leaders (including one of my favorites, Nicholas and Alexandra). Catherine the Great started her life simply enough as Sophie, a minor German royal whose mother had lofty aspirations of her daughter marrying well.
After traveling to Russia as a teenager to marry Peter, the nephew of Empress Elizabeth and heir to the throne, Sophie is initially embraced by the members of the Russian court – but that quickly changes. What follows is a whirlwind of betrayals, affairs, and power struggles as Catherine eventually ascends the Russian throne, guided by her studies of philosophy. She used these principles to rule Russia during civil wars and foreign conflicts throughout her reign and the author portrays these events in vivid detail. Massie’s writing style brings the entire era to life and personalizes Catherine as only he can – a highly recommended biography.
Although Philosophy often intimidates me, I have to be honest, and say that I never have taken the Philosophers too seriously. This most likely stems from my Introduction to Philosophy course in college where my professor spoke constantly of driving his Porsche, ended every sentence with “and I have written a paper about that so see me after class if you would like a copy…” and did not appreciate my brilliant final essay that featured a conversation between myself and a Philosopher-like character who frequently declared “and I have written a paper about that so see me after class if you would like a copy.” (He apparently did take Philosophers, and himself, very seriously…)
So I was very excited when I discovered Great Philosophers who Failed at Love by local author, Andrew Shaffer–now whenever a Philosopher evilly asks me about Dualism just to see me squirm, I can just casually lean against a door frame and reply “Nevermind that, so how is your love life?” Because, judging by the love lives of the Philosophers included in Shaffer’s book, they won’t be able to resist changing the subject to their scandalous romantic escapades. Just how saucy are these philosophers? Here are a few examples:
♥ French Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau apparently enjoyed flashing.
♥ Ann Rand dedicated her masterpiece, Atlas Shrugged, to both her husband and her lover…but then had her lover’s name removed when she found out he was cheating on her (with a woman other than his wife).
♥ French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre liked to call himself a “literary Don Juan” and, at the age of 74, remarked to one of his lady friends that he was currently dating nine women (not counting his long-time lover, Sylvie Le Bon and her girlfriend, of course)!
Although all the tawdry details kept me turning the pages, it is Shaffer’s snarky comments that truly make this quick read absolutely delightful. And the text is printed in navy blue which was super neat and lovely to read.
I highly recommend Great Philosophers who Failed at Love as well Shaffer’s multiple other personalities found here: www.orderofstandrew.com
and here: www.evilreads.com
and here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-shaffer
and here: http://twitter.com/andrewtshaffer
and a few other places as well.
Are you trying to figure out what to do with your life, the meaning of life, or making plans for what happens after you stop breathing? Walk to the 100′s range of the Davenport Public Library. The 100′s are the destination for philosophy, psychology, new-age spirituality, and the supernatural. Here are a few brand-new “100′s” you might enjoy:
Thanking the Monkey
By Karen Dawn of the Washington Post is a look at the issues of animal rights, past and present, pulling quotes from celebrities in the use of animals as pets, entertainment, food, and test subjects
Just Who Will You Be
Maria Shriver pens this bestseller, which addresses living a full life when the foundations of one’s self image are taken away. Shriver was forced to resign upon husband Arbold Schwartzenegger’s election as California governor after 25 years as a national news anchor/reporter.
Ghosts Among Us
Van Praagh, the New York Times bestselling author and co-executive producer of the CBS series The Ghost Whisperer, shares his knowledge and life experience about ghosts. Contains true ghost stories and details about their active participation in our lives.