I had to drive for many hours on a trip, and the story of the Empire of Russia was too gripping to let go. So Poland had a great empire, followed by Sweden, but Peter the Great brought this to an end. Catherine II was the next truly outstanding leader, but there were also czars who nearly did as much damage as these greater ones achieved. The fear of anarchy was always in the back of the mind.
Something that stood out to me was the diplomacy of the Napoleonic wars given primarily from the Russian and French perspectives. Then there was the back and forth wavering of Russia between the various European powers. In spite of all the persistent efforts of some of the czars to modernize, however, we see that the Russian military is still quite backwards compared to the rest of Europe, which persists from the time of Peter the Great through the Battle of Jena. The weaponry advanced while the Russian soldier is brave, but training and tactics seem always on the side of Western Europeans.
This book finishes with the Crimean War where the British and French unite with the Turks in an effort to humiliate Russia. Russia was justifying their actions based on the goal of freeing the Greek Orthodox church, although the expansionist tendencies of Russia were also prominently on display. Of course the British and French weren't exactly any better, while the Ottomans refrained from conquering only because they were too weak.
I should probably come up with a rating scheme. If I had one, then this book would likely get a four and a half loons out of five. The main deficiency being that I can't really know where the original sources were. But then again, I am not sure I would want to hear large quantities of footnotes read out loud in my audio book.