Cleopatra: A Life

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Cleopatra: A Life

by Stacy Schiff

Little, Brown And Company | October 30, 2012 | Hardcover

Cleopatra: A Life is rated 3.7143 out of 5 by 7.
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.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 384 pages, 9.5 × 6.5 × 1.25 in

Published: October 30, 2012

Publisher: Little, Brown And Company

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0316001929

ISBN - 13: 9780316001922

Found in: Biography and Memoir

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down! Very intriguing and informative. A great read for history buffs. Gives you a more realistic perspective on how Cleopatra may have lived. Loved it!
Date published: 2012-06-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Waste of time I was very disappointed with this book. I had been wanting to download this to my kobo for some time, but was always put off by the price. I finally got it, only to be terribly disappointed. The writing is extremely disjointed - it reads like a gossip column. The author jumps from one topic to the next, and I never learned anything more about Cleopatra. There wasn't anything concrete to learn at all from this book. If you want a better read about Cleopatra, try the historical novel by Margaret George. I know this wasn't a "novel" but it was a complete waste of time.
Date published: 2011-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful! I'm a terrible writer, so please forgive me, but I enjoyed this book so much I wanted to pass it on. This was a really compelling read that did an amazing job of exploring the myths around Cleopatra and giving the reader glimpses into what she was really like. As such an amazing and controversial historical figure, it was refreshed to see there how much more there was to the picture than the typical sex kitten portrayals in TV and movies. The author skillfully navigates history and pulls out interesting and relevant details, while managing to be quite entertaining. Enjoy!
Date published: 2011-11-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not what you expected! Do not pick up this book if you think it is the tale of Cleopatra. The summary on the back of the book was misleading. This book is more of a text book. The author is talking to you and teaching you about the "real" story of this notorious queen. There are even footnotes. As she goes on, she is disproving all things that you think you knew, as well as all the things that writers from that era reported. It is not a romantic story... it's a resource.
Date published: 2011-11-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Captivating I don't read a lot of biographies, so I was a little tentative when I started this one... So imagine how glad I am that I gave this a try. The book is written in an amazingly gorgeous style. It keeps the readers reading because it weaves itself like a story, not as a long string of facts. You learn a lot, of course, but it's not like you're reading a text book. Though Cleopatra oozes passion and emotion, it manages to stay amazingly objective. Ultimately, it leaves many things up to you to decide - how you feel about Cleopatra, her motives, her life, and her impact on society. The book is fairly heavy, though, so I wouldn't entirely recommend it to first time biography readers!
Date published: 2011-06-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing An interesting look at not only Cleopatra herself, but also the political climate of the era. While there were times it was dull, it was a good dull in that the book moved along and didn't really stagnate. It was also effective because it told a story, rather than a series of facts.
Date published: 2011-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellent biography of Cleopatra This was a well written and researched biography of one of the most notorious women in history, and it was an absolute treat to read. Though it must be said (and the author notes this as well) that very little is actually known about Cleopatra, as most of the historical evidence about her was destroyed, intentional or not. Despite that, Schiff succeeds in writing a fascinating biography of Cleopatra that further fuels the allure of this mysterious woman.
Date published: 2011-01-17

– More About This Product –

Cleopatra: A Life

by Stacy Schiff

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 384 pages, 9.5 × 6.5 × 1.25 in

Published: October 30, 2012

Publisher: Little, Brown And Company

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0316001929

ISBN - 13: 9780316001922

About the Book

The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer brings to life the most intriguing woman in the history of the world: Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt. Though her life spanned fewer than 40 years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world.

From the Publisher

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.

About the Author

Stacy Schiff is the authorof Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov),winner of the Pulitzer Prize;Saint-Exupéry, a Pulitzer Prize finalist; andA 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.

Editorial Reviews

"[A] magnificent re-creation of both an extraordinary woman, and her times...No previous image, visual or verbal, matches up to the inspiring, frightening, ruthless woman conjured by Schiff from an inspired combination of carefully parsed texts, new research, and pulse-quickening descriptive writing....Schiff uses a method that borrows much from the cinema. Zooming in on a dramatic event, she then pulls back to reveal the larger picture; the back story; the setting....Schiff proves brilliant at peeling away the layers of myth in which earlier storytellers shrouded the Egyptian queen."-Miranda Seymour, The Guardian (UK)
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