Peter the Great by Derek Wilson
Peter I, Emperor of all the Russias, has been a subject of curiosity and scrutiny for almost three centuries. But what was he really like? Physically, he was a strong, tall man (6' 8 inches) who unlike previous Russian monarchs was not afraid of hard labor. He was an experienced army officer and navy admiral, a skillful shipbuilder and an amazingly energetic personality. Peter was intelligent, impetuous and also cruel. He quashed several rebellions using whatever means necessary - even mass executions.He personally interrogated his own son, Alexei, suspected of plotting against him (Alexei was the first inmate of a high security political jail in the Peter and Paul fortress). But the political achievements of this monumental figure were staggering. By bringing Russia into Europe and building it into a great European power, he single-handedly changed the course of history. If his vision was left unfulfilled at the time of his death it was only because it was so vast. The scale of Peter's massive reforms changed Russia, and Europe, for ever.