Peter the Great

Henri Troyat, Author Dutton Books $22.95 (392p) ISBN 978-0-525-24547-6
As is Troyat's proclivity, no barbarity goes unremarked; clearly this resurrectionist of Russian personages (Ivan the Terrible et al.) assumes that reader fascination with mortuary textures matches his own as he graphically, frequently, describes mutilated bodies, tortures, severed heads displayed on spikes. Apparently Troyat is no admirer of the pragmatic despot whose ""Slav character inclined to extremes,'' who developed Russia's military power, expanded industry and trade, made church subservient to state, reordered social ranks and overall churned up the empire so mightily that few grieved when, in 1725, the 53-year-old czar breathed his last. Although Peter was the first prince since 1075 to venture beyond Russia's bordersand he gulped Western influences with the gluttony he did his vodkahe was to remain primordial. Still, the Petrine era is one of the great sagas of history and involving to read about, no matter how crudely told. Photos not seen by PW. (August 19
Reviewed on: 09/01/1987
Release date: 09/01/1987
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