AZ1gecko, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by AZ1gecko)
It was a pleasure to read a book on Cleopatra that did NOT have the Hollywood treatment! Here, Cleopatra comes alive with all of the surrounding history, culture, art and personalities that were so vital to her time and history. She was an amazing woman who in the Egypt of her times was able to be all that she set out to achieve. Her power, her talents, her education and her abilities were able to come to the forefront in a period of time when women were usually pushed into the background and forgotten except as wives and mothers.
Her education in particular and her ability in speaking multiple languages allowed her to enter various worlds in which she negotiated, engaged in commerce and walked among the men who were in power, not only as an equal, but far above many of them.
The only reason I gave this book four stars and not five, is that it bogs down in the middle with too much minutiae and makes the book slow going for quite a few pages. I was rewarded by staying "with it" and it picked up again.
Stacy Schiff did a magnificent job of truly describing Cleopatra, both on a physical and intellectual level. I learned so much about this remarkable women and the times in which she lived.
Viviann, August 6, 2012 (view all comments by Viviann)
I love it. History made easy with juicy gossip about other writer's perspectives as well as Cleopatra herself, and reliable notes to back it all up.
Little Brown and Company -
by Sheila N.,
I'm rather sure that all three of Stacy Schiff's previous works have been nominated for some award or another. With a pedigree like that, you know that her latest biography is bound to be a must-read. Stripping away all the previous misconceptions about this fascinating queen, Schiff dazzles us with another Cleopatra: a canny, capable, and charismatic ruler working against the tide to preserve her nation. A riveting and compelling read. Recommended for all and any history buffs.
by Sheila N.
"[A] page-turner...even more extraordinary than the more fanciful legend. Cleopatra emerges as a groundbreaking female leader, relying on her wits, determination, and political acumen rather than sex appeal to astutely wield her power in order to get the job done. Ancient Egypt never goes out of style, and Cleopatra continues to captivate successive generations."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"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."
by Library Journal,
"Schiff showcases her skill at capturing a life. Her prose is elegant but easy to read and briskly paced....Undergraduates, lovers of biography or ancient history, and those seeking an introduction to Cleopatra will delight in this take on the near-mythical last queen of Egypt."
by Cleveland Plain Dealer,
"What makes the book so compelling is Schiff's masterful evocation of broader questions....Schiff does not flinch from her incestuous and murderous family history, but this account, pieced together with modern methods and sensibilities, makes for fascinating reading."
by Los Angeles Times,
"Taking Cleopatra's political goals seriously, Schiff reanimates her as a living, breathing woman: utterly extraordinary, to be sure, but recognizably human."
by USA Today,
"Schiff is at her best in conveying the physical lushness of Cleopatra's exotic world with its glittering sun and sand....Mixing contemporary sources, beautiful writing and psychological insight, Schiff makes us empathize with the heroine of this tale of togas, territorial conquest and hot love."
Her palace shimmered with gold but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Cleopatra, the wealthiest ruler of her time and one of the most powerful women in history, was a canny political strategist, a brilliant manager, a tough negotiator, and the most manipulative of lovers. Although her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world.
At only 18 years old, Cleopatra was already one of history's most remarkable figures: the Queen of Egypt. A lethal political struggle with her brother marked her early adulthood and set the tone for the rest of her life; a relationship with Julius Caesar, forged while under siege in her palace, launched her into a deadly mix of romance and strategy; a pleasure cruise down the Nile followed, a child, and a trip to Rome, which ended in Cleopatra's flight. After Caesar's brutal murder, she began a nine-year affair with Mark Antony, with whom she had three more children. Antony and Cleopatra's alliance and attempt to forge a new empire spelled both their ends.
The subject of gossip and legend, veneration and speculation in her lifetime, Cleopatra fascinated the world right up to her death. In the 2000 years since, myths about the last Queen of Egypt have been fueled by Shakespeare, Dryden, and Shaw, who put words in her mouth, and by Michelangelo, Delacroix, and Elizabeth Taylor, who put a face to her name. In Cleopatra, Pulitzer prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff accomplishes a feat that has eluded artists and writers for centuries: capturing fully the operatic life of an exceptionally seductive and powerful woman, whose death ushered in a new world order.
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