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A Life

Schiff, Stacy

(eBook - 2010)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Baker & Taylor
A Pulitzer Prize winner weaves together sex and celebrity, empire and politics in a story that is as contemporary as it is ancient, capturing fully for the first time the operatic power of Cleopatra's life and reign. By the author of Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov).

Hachette Book Group
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.

& Taylor

A Pulitzer Prize winner weaves together sex and celebrity, empire and politics in a story that is as contemporary as it is ancient, capturing fully for the first time the operatic power of Cleopatra's life and reign. By the author of Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov). Read by Robin Miles. A #1 best-seller.
Separates fact from fiction to reconstruct the life of the most influential woman of her era, revealing Cleopatra as a complex woman and shrewd monarch whose life and death reshaped the ancient world.

Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Co., c2010
ISBN: 9780316172875
Branch Call Number: eNYPL Book
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: 3M Cloud Library
3M Company


From the critics

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Dec 08, 2014
  • Wizards_CastlesAndBells rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

It's as if you are right there. Cleopatra was a shrewd politically savvy leader. Ahead of her time an understatement. Thoroughly researched, well written, un-boring historical.

A wonderful read that expertly follows Cleopatra's life and family tree. Schiff outlines the various and multiple intrigues of royal life illustrating just how dangerous it was for any member of the family to succeed to the throne. Cleopatra was more than Mark Anthony and Caesar’s lover, much more - she was an outstanding leader of people, a military strategist, and a true Egyptian- proud and protective of her country and its people.

Jul 07, 2014
  • arsolarik rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

This is a spew of random facts all shuffled around. I was looking more for a story.

Jan 05, 2014
  • suzannehb rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I enjoyed this book. The research is amazing, and the author uses fantastic judgment concerning how to portray Cleopatra, given the spotty and biased historical record. Interesting, but not a "stay up 'til 1 a.m." page turner. I'm glad I read it.

I learned so much about this infamous woman, Egyptian culture and Roman culture.The author has definitely done her homework. There are some places where you just have to slog through the text but overall a great read

Mar 10, 2013
  • ser_library rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

in addition to Cleopatra's story, the information on the education and role of women is fascinating

Nov 30, 2012
  • jshethj rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Schiff does not present all the known versions of Cleopatra's life. She picks and chooses, most of the time with good judgment and explanation, but sometimes simply to create a spicy story. The book I had contained corrections from some random person exposing some of the flaws in Schiff's book (ex. She claims Zeus's mother was born from an egg). I would choose Roller's biography of Cleopatra as a more informative, unbiased text. It's a little boring though

Sep 02, 2012
  • richibi rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

an apparently thorough biography of the last queen of Egypt marred only by an obfuscating style, the author demystifies the legend but too often does the reverse to her prose

Sep 01, 2012
  • bmrich rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

intellectual trip back to the rebellious 1960's. Not a quick read but a rewarding one.

Aug 29, 2012
  • Basileus rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I really liked this biography of Cleopatra. The author manages to sift through the known facts and various myths of this enigmatic woman and presents a portrait of her that doesn't quite fit the romanticized legend we are more familiar with. Highly recommended.

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Mar 14, 2011
  • BlueHippo rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Really awfull. This is a book in search of an editor. The sentences are very awkwardly constructed, so it is very slow and difficult to read. Overuse of parenthetical phrases and dashes add to the problems. Sad, because there is a lot of interesting information here-just not really a pleasant read. I kept wanting to get out my red pen the whole time I was reading it!


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