We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
Cleopatra: A Life | [Stacy Schiff]

Cleopatra: A Life

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 40 years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. Cleopatra appears to have had sex with only two men. They happen, however, to have been Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
Regular Price:$27.93
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

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 40 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 Antony. 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.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2010 Stacy Schiff (P)2010 Hachette Audio

What the Critics Say

"An epic subject requires a writer of epic skill and scope, and we have a perfect pairing in Cleopatra and Stacy Schiff. Absorbing and illuminating, this new biography will endure." (Jon Meacham, author of American Lion)

"A Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer presents a swift, sympathetic life of one of history's most maligned and legendary women.... Successfully dissipating all the perfume, Schiff finds a remarkably complex woman - brutal and loving, dependent and independent, immensely strong but finally vulnerable." (Kirkus)

"Captivating...Ms. Schiff strips away the accretions of myth that have built up around the Egyptian queen and plucks off the imaginative embroiderings of Shakespeare, Shaw and Elizabeth Taylor. In doing so, she gives us a cinematic portrait of a historical figure far more complex and compelling than any fictional creation, and a wide, panning, panoramic picture of her world." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (788 )
5 star
 (232)
4 star
 (239)
3 star
 (177)
2 star
 (81)
1 star
 (59)
Overall
3.7 (407 )
5 star
 (129)
4 star
 (121)
3 star
 (92)
2 star
 (40)
1 star
 (25)
Story
3.9 (397 )
5 star
 (145)
4 star
 (137)
3 star
 (72)
2 star
 (27)
1 star
 (16)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    brodi15 Wethersfield, CT, United States 04-05-11
    brodi15 Wethersfield, CT, United States 04-05-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Disappointment"

    I had high hopes for this, particularly since the reviews were pretty good and there was a lot of hype leading up to its release. Well, I was left very disappointed. The "story" is scattered so it doesn't read like a story. I know it's about Cleopatra's real life so perhaps it's meant to be a little dry by nature, but I still thought it would read like a tale of her life beginning to end - tumultous and exciting. Unfortunately, the author is constantly back and forth on each point between the time period she is actually discussing and the past and future that relate to the point she is discussing (if that makes any sense at all? I don't know how best to explain that, but if that's confusing, just try following along with the audio...). Many times, I thought I was losing it (e.g., Cleopatra's brother was dead, wait he wasn't dead, wait no he is dead, wait he didn't die - yet - she's just saying that he would be dead at some point although she's talking about it as if he is dead...Same issue with her dad and everyone else who passes through Cleopatra's life. Are we in Greece? No of course not, we're in Egypt. Though it really sounds like we're in Greece...). I will say, perhaps it reads better in written format than in audio. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. There are just so many footnotes that it interrupts any potential fluidity that I have to assume exists in the hardcopy. I didn't bother to finish it although I may at some point.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine Largo, FL, United States 12-31-10
    Christine Largo, FL, United States 12-31-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    45
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Save your credits"

    I can't believe I wasted a credit on this book. It reads like a dull history book, yet isn't even based on facts. I would love nothing better than to get my credit back :(

    11 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Sunland, CA, United States 02-06-11
    Mary Sunland, CA, United States 02-06-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    30
    11
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Fact overload"

    If you're a big fan of biographies, perhaps this is the book for you ---- way too many facts and even those seemed it bit embellished. Good material but so much is unknown about Cleopatra's life that the holes and missing details caused the story to lose some life.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Surly Girly 01-02-11
    Surly Girly 01-02-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    24
    18
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "Disappointed"

    I wanted to love this book, and I fully expected to. Given all the glowing reviews, and the subject, it seemed like a slam dunk to me, and I downplayed any uncomplimentary reviews.

    Well, an hour and a half into listening, and I reluctantly have to say that it is hugely disappointing. I appreciate the writing and, as a window on the world as it was back then, it has its place. But to center it as the story of Cleopatra is to take a short story and stretch it into a full length biography by padding page after page after page with sidebar comments and allusions.

    It is what it is. No problems with that. But it is not what it claims to be. Too bad!

    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Serena Galloway 07-23-15 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very detailed in regards to sources. excellent!!!!"

    lots of details. 3 specially about individuals in her lifetime. full background of an icon in our history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julia Chen Aptos, CA United States 05-06-15
    Julia Chen Aptos, CA United States 05-06-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Most interesting and intriguing historical account"

    I love that the author takes from several different texts to compile the biography of one of the most influential, politically savy and wealthiest women of the world. As well as adding her own opinions and analyzing the cultural, political and patriarchal beliefs of the time - pointing out the insecurities of the Romans who detested and scandalized a intellectually superior monarch just because she was a woman.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristina 03-21-15
    Kristina 03-21-15 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    6
    Overall
    "A magnificent account of one of the most famous"

    I really enjoyed a deep account of one of the most famous people nonetheless women in history. Diligent efforts were taken to get the facts straight and account a tale that many of us did not know the intimate details. An eloquent description and well written!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vilasinee Bunnag 02-24-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Historical Details at Its Best"

    I completely binged listened this book. Amazing details! The historical context made you feel like you were there. A gem. I've heard this book was fantastic when it first came out - I should have read it sooner.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Victoria 02-13-15
    Victoria 02-13-15 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    Overall
    "Captivating and Illuminating"

    Stacey Schiff presents a thoroughly researched, deeply contemplated and highly educational biography of the life of one of the most powerful, and perhaps most misrepresented, women in history. I really enjoyed this one: cleopatras story is equal parts empowering and fascinating!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Texas 09-04-13
    Amazon Customer Texas 09-04-13 Member Since 2014

    Avid reader passionate writer

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Must love history!"

    Although this is certainly a wonderful account of Cleopatra's life, you probably have to be an avid history lover to get through it. This book goes into great detail and sometimes makes it a little harder to pay attention. The narration was wonderful, though. I am a great history buff, so I enjoyed it to the end, but I can see where if the reader was looking for an electric story, they might be disappointed. If you love accurate historical events as pertains to the character, you will like this book. Stacy Schiff put a lot of research in this story and Robin Miles did a wonderful narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.