Cleopatra: A Life

Front Cover
Virgin, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 368 pages
1661 Reviews
Her palace shimmered with onyx and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Cleopatra, shrewd strategist and ingenious negotiator; though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to one of her own brothers. She waged a brutal civil war against the first; she poisoned the second. Incest and assassination were family specialties. Cleopatra appears to have had sex with only two men. They happen, however, to have been Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. Cleopatra had a son with Caesar and - after his murder - three more with his prot g . Already she was the wealthiest ruler in the Mediterranean; the relationship with Antony confirmed her status as the most influential woman of the age. The two would together attempt to forge a new empire, in an alliance that spelled their ends. Cleopatra has lodged herself in our imaginations ever since. Famous long before she was notorious, Cleopatra has gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. Shakespeare and Shaw put words in her mouth. Michelangelo, Tiepolo and Elizabeth Taylor put a face to her name. Along the way the supple personality has been lost. In a masterly return to the classical sources, Stacy Schiff here boldly separates fact from fiction to rescue the magnetic queen whose death ushered in a new world order a generation before the birth of Christ. Rich in detail, epic in scope, Schiff's is a luminous, deeply original reconstruction of a dazzling life.

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Schiff is a great writer. - Goodreads
Tremendously clunky writing. - Goodreads
Schiff's writing is superb - fluid yet matter-of-fact. - Goodreads

Review: Cleopatra: A Life

User Review  - Jennifer - Goodreads

Tremendously clunky writing. Schiff goes for style over substance every time, to the great detriment of the text and her subject. As a layperson, I have no previous background knowledge in this area ... Read full review

Review: Cleopatra: A Life

User Review  - Jessica T. - Goodreads

There isn't a lot of information about Cleopatra's life.... Ms. Schiff did an excellent job recreating of what is known of it and using a cultural context.... Read full review

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About the author (2011)

Stacey Schiff is a Pulitzer Prize winning biographer. Her essays and articles have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review and The Times Literary Supplement and she has also received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2000 Schiff won the Pulitzer Prize for her biography of Vera Nabokov. She was also a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Saint-Exupéry: A Biography about Antoine de Saint Exupéry. In 2006 she received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in New York City and Edmonton, Alberta.

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