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Publisher's Summary

In this hour, great leaders inspire myths, but the truth is often an even better story. The real Cleopatra was a brilliant woman who spoke nine languages and controlled an empire that made Rome look like a backwater. Stacy Schiff's new book Cleopatra: A Life describes the Egyptian queen as a shrewd political strategist and a brilliant leader. She tells Anne Strainchamps about the real and the imaginary Cleopatra.

Next, Ron Chernow's recently published George Washington: A Life logs in at 900 pages, one of the most acclaimed historical biographies of the past year. Chernow says the Washington handed down through the ages is a wooden icon, washed clean of his passions and insecurities. But he tells Jim Fleming Washington was complicated and flawed, and an extraordinary political leader.

Then, Edmund Morris has written three books about Teddy Roosevelt. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt started things off in 1980, winning the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Theodore Rex followed, taking the Los Angeles Time Book Prize in 2002. The past year saw the third and final volume burst on the scene. Colonel Roosevelt picks up the story after TR left the White House. Morris tells Steve Paulson Roosevelt was a mass of contradictions.

And finally, while the presidency so far has appeared to be a man's game, there is now question that women have shaped the job and the men from the very beginning. In his book First Family: Abigail and John Adams, Pulitzer Prize winning author Joseph Ellis tells their story. He tells Jim Fleming it's just not possible to understand John without Abigail. [Broadcast Date: July 8, 2011]

Listen to:

  • Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
  • Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
  • Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
  • First Family by Joseph Ellis
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