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.
©2010 Stacy Schiff (P)2010 Hachette Audio
"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)
Sorry, but I gave up on this audiobook after the first twenty minutes. I was wondering why the narrator was reading the blurb from the back of the jacket, probably written by some young editorial assistant, and then I realized that no, this was the actual book. I'm sure the author did a lot of research, but she started off telling me that all the previous histories of Cleopatra are inadequate. I was thrown off by hearing phrases like "zero-sum game" and "Page-Sixer" in the biography of an ancient figure. Pompous tone. Oh, well, some people might enjoy this style.
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.
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 :(
I enjoyed the contender very much. I learned quite a bit and still feel like I only know a little bit more than I did at the outset. which is a good thing. I had not realized how tumultuous the world was during the time of Cleopatra.
A good read though it dragged a bit in the middle but the main characters are outstanding. I recommend for anyone interested in the life of Cleopatra, a uniquely extraordinary woman that lived her life on her own terms....unapologetically 😊
Thoroughly enjoyed it. Excellent blend of historical evidence, juxtaposition of multiple sources, and the emerging plot full of Egyptian passion and wit. Enthralling and easy to follow.
Stacy Schiff creates a coherent story pulled from shards of text. I love the authors diligence and appreciate the way she connects the dots turning a legend steeped in history into history as compelling as myth. Cleopatra, and her avatar, Elizabeth, Taylor equal one another in drama and splendor.
This biography is tastefully written to depict the life of famous Cleopatra from different perspectives. It places her in a time and place where her behavior was common among monarchs, yet she was to blame for much of Rome's predicaments. Intelligent, well educated and persuasive, her influence went far and beyond.
Middle aged tech employee with interests from behavioral economics to Harry Potter. I live on a small farm outside of Kent Ohio.
This is an excellent option for audio, as the material can be somewhat dry and with my ADD I found it easier to listen, then make copious use of the "30sec replay, than read for more than an hour or so at a time.
I come away from this investment in time and dollars, feeling as of I have a solid background in the subject.
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