Cleopatra: A Life

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Little, Brown, Nov 1, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 384 pages
1719 Reviews
The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer brings to life the most intriguing woman in the history of the world: Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt.

Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnets, and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an 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 a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as well; 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, among the most prominent Romans of the day. Both were married to other women. Cleopatra had a child with Caesar and--after his murder--three more with his protégé. 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, Cleopatra's supple personality and the drama of her circumstances have 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. Rich in detail, epic in scope, Schiff 's is a luminous, deeply original reconstruction of a dazzling life.
  

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Excellent writing, excellent research. - Goodreads
A bit difficult to read. - Goodreads
Myth revision in beautiful prose. - Goodreads
Excellently woven history and story telling. - Goodreads
Disappointed in the layout of the book. - Goodreads
A magical insight into the life a mysterious queen. - Goodreads

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

Review: Cleopatra: A Life

User Review  - marcia - Goodreads

couldn't get into the book. tried to listen to audio and still did not keep my attention. gave up half way through. Read full review

All 18 reviews »

Contents

I
II
III
IV
V
VI
VII
VIII
CLEOPATRA CAPTURES THE OLD MAN BY MAGIC
THE GOLDEN AGE NEVER WAS THE PRESENT AGE
MAN IS BY NATURE A POLITICAL CREATURE
WE MUST OFTEN SHIFT THE SAILS WHEN WE WISH TO ARRIVE IN PORT
AN OBJECT OF GOSSIP FOR THE WHOLE WORLD
ILLICIT AFFAIRS AND BASTARD CHILDREN
THE WICKEDEST WOMAN IN HISTORY
Selected Bibliography

IX
Acknowledgments
Illustration Credits
Notes
DEAD MEN DONT BITE
Table of Contents
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ALSO BY STACY SCHIFF
COPYRIGHT
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Stacy Schiff is the author of Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov), winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Saint-Exupéry, a Pulitzer Prize finalist; and A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, winner of the George Washington Book Prize and the Ambassador Book Award. Schiff has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. The recipient of an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she lives in New York City.

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