I found this book a gripping and very entertaining read. Mr. Massie makes Peter the Great truly come alive in this book, and of course the subject matter helps: the hair-raising events of his early youth, his crushing of the Strelsky revolt, the war with Sweden, his travels to Western Europe and his attempts to modernize Russia. And since all this happened before the invention of human rights, the Geneva Convention and political correctness, some of the stories in this book are not for the faint of heart. At the same time this book offers a good insight into the basically eastern-ness of Russia and into the apparently unchanged character traits that bedevil Russian society to this very day. I cannot truthfully say I couldn't put this book down, but this was only because of the sheer number of pages. Once I started reading however I picked it up to continue reading at every opportunity. Worthy of everyone of its 5 stars!