Cleopatra: A Life

Cleopatra: A Life

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, garnet, 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.

Title:Cleopatra: A Life
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780316001922
Format Type:

About Stacy Schiff

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, the Ambassador Award in American Studies, and the Gilbert Chinard Prize of the Institut Français d'Amérique. All three were New York Times Notable Books;



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    Cleopatra: A Life Reviews

  • Donna

    First and foremost this is a history book. The plot is taken from real time 2,000 years ago. It hasn't been bloated with fantastical elements or intense drama. In fact, if you were reading this book a...

  • Elizabeth Sulzby

    So far, I am very disappointed in this book--by a Pulitzer Prize winning author. She uses very long paragraphs that should have been divided. She puts her points embedded so that it's hard for a reade...

  • Matt

    Beginning a month (or forty days) of biographies, I thought I would work through this buddy read. In her biography of Cleopatra, Schiff takes the reader along a winding adventure into the world before...

  • Diane

    Stacy Schiff has a serious girl crush on Cleopatra. If you want to read 300 pages about how awesome Queen Cleo was, then this is the book for you!I remembered little about the famous Egyptian ruler fr...

  • Jason Koivu

    Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra: A Life is speculative, borderline revisionist history. It is unabashedly pro-Cleopatra, and ya know what? That's okay!Schiff looks at all the historical accounts - many of wh...

  • Sara

    Perhaps of all the historic characters we think we know, but don’t, Cleopatra ranks at the top of the list. Sometimes a legend is so well-known that we lose track of the fact that a real human being...

  • Navidad Thelamour

    Released to rave reviews and the full packaging monty of its publisher, Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra took the NYT by storm in 2011, remaining there for months. And no wonder! This kamikaze of masterly w...

  • Kelly A.

    http://freshofftheshelf.blogspot.com/...The number one thing that I learned from Cleopatra: A Life was this: I had deceived myself in thinking I knew anything about her before reading this book. Stacy...

  • Grace Tjan

    What I learned from this book (in no particular order): 1. Cleo was an insatiable vamp who seduced two of the most powerful men in Rome using her feminine wiles. Cleo might have used her wiles to sedu...

  • Emily

    "When Egypt Ruled the East" by George Steindorff this book is not.I have read many books on Egyptian history all the way up through the Ptolemies who, somehow, through some sort of rhetorical magic, w...