As part of our Best Books of 2011 coverage, our editors weigh in on some of their personal favorites from the list.

When it comes to reading about the lives of the Romanovs, Robert K. Massie is the ne plus ultra of biographers. Combining top-notch writing with a deep understanding of Russian culture and a knack for sussing out the most interesting tidbits of a life, Massie has created a compassionate and compelling portrait of one of history’s most maligned rulers.

Read our interview with Robert K. Massie about Catherine the Great. Check out our full list of the Top 50 Books of 2011.

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