Peter the Great (1996) by William Marshall is a very direct and objective book about the life and legacy of one of the greatest Russian monarchs, Peter I Romanov. Besides the central text, the book also contains a small forward and preface, numerous documents and maps, and a glossary, which are all very effective in further explaining the issues. Marshall uses Peter's reign to examine the causes of the recent demise of the U.S.S.R. and the continuing threats to the unity of the present Russian Federation itself. He also believes that many of the political problems and cultural confrontations faced by Peter are presently paralleled by numerous former Easter Soviet-Bloc country leaders. Marshall presents Peter as most other historians, but with far more appeal and respect. He is portrayed as a nontraditional ruler who was able to start a new era for Russia.
Peter's lifestyle was very unusual for world leaders during his time, and extremely unorthodox when compared to his Russian predecessors.
Just some of the things that contributed to Peter's rough image were his foreign dress, his heavy drinking and partying capabilities, and his love of the company of "common folk." Peter used these aspects of himself to great advantage and purposeful disadvantage, for he was always scheming.
One of the main emphases of the book is the military ventures of Peter the Great. Marshall attributes Peter's love of the military to his growing up in the foreign districts of Moscow. Many of Peter's other character and behaviors are also attributed to his early life in the foreign district. Early in his reign Peter realized his long term goals, many of which would only be influenced by his military capabilities; Peter knew that Russia needed a warm-water outlet to Western Europe. A large and effective military was needed...