countdown boutiques-francophones Learn more scflyout Home All-New Kindle Music Deals Store sports Tools Registry

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
Format: Hardcover|Change
Price:$19.00+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on June 9, 2015
Stacy Schiff mines ancient sources to find the real Cleopatra. Forget what you've heard about her being a seductress ruled by her own desires. Cleopatra was an highly intelligent, resourceful woman who received the finest education available in her day.

She lost an empire, regained it, almost lost it again, and ultimately failed to stop the encroachment of Rome. Schiff sifts through what ancient historians - all of them from enemy states - had to say about her, and accounts of events to demonstrate that Cleopatra made well reasoned decisions, and ruled successfully for a long time.

I quite enjoyed the style of the book as well. It comes across as a narrative instead of a scholarly review. For those who want to know more, there is an extensive section of notes as well.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 28, 2011
I always wanted to believe that there was something more to Cleopatra than a mysterious personality that made men want to buy a night with her at the price of their lives. Stacy Schiff's book helps to see this woman in a completely different light. While still for the most part an interpretation, her book draws a portrait of Cleopatra that you've never seen before. Cleopatra's origin, her education, financial situation as well as the people she met shed light on why it was and still is so difficult to think of her as an important political figure rather than a mysterious woman...
Even if one comes to grasp the complexity of her character, the grandeur of her inventiveness and ambition, there still remains an unexplained fact: why did her projects end up so sad and tragic? Why did the whole world that she cherished so carefully turned its back on her at the end of her life? And how could she got outplayed by such a mediocre, compared to her, personality as Octavian? And what exactly, after his long reign of Rome, made Octavian come to consider Cleopatra's position, she so proudly occupied, as "dreadful" (p. 297)? It is hard or nearly impossible to understand what Cleopatra might have felt when she came to realize "she was to become the woman 'who destroyed the Egyptian monarchy'" (p. 302)...
While it's sad to be unable to understand what really happened and what drove her to commit suicide, I also want to believe that she was not only intelligent and calculating strategist. I don't think the tears she might have shed over the bodies of her children' s fathers were in anyway dramatic, in line with the tradition of Greek tragedies. I want to believe she was both the powerful queen and a vulnerable woman...
But then, if Aesop's lions were given an opportunity to believe in something (p. 298), we'd have a completely different review in here :))
0Comment| 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 5, 2011
Disentangling fact from fiction is rarely an easy task, let alone if you are dealing with history. Yet, therein resides Stacy Schiff's greatest achievement in tackling the life of one of the most fictionalized characters of all times. From Plutarch to Shakespeare and Elizabeth Taylor contributions to the myth of Cleopatra have been overly abundant. Schiff's navigates through all the sources rescuing the woman that really was, one that fully justifies our fascination with her on her own merits. On top of the gift that this revelation is in itself, Schiff writes wonderfully. Enjoy.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 50 REVIEWERon November 9, 2011
This book gets off to a very slow start with the author explaining her research methods in excruciating detail, but once it gets going into the actual life of Cleopatra it becomes a very interesting book.

The author goes into great detail explaining and interpreting events from Cleopatra's viewpoint, rather than the viewpoint of the ancient Roman historians. She also makes some interesting interpretations of the primary classical sources, Plutarch, Cassius Dio and others. I don't agree with all her interpretations but most are quite thought provoking nonetheless.

The book also examines the many legends surrounding Cleopatra. As one example, Schiff makes a very convincing case for the story of Cleopatra killing herself by letting an asp bite her to be a Roman fabrication. The truth, says Schiff, is that Cleopatra had a very extensive knowledge of poisons and toxins - the Ptolemys were, after all, very adept at poisoning rivals to the throne, particularly other family members - so she would likely have chosen something far less painful and faster acting than an asp bite.

The reader in the audio book version has a voice that takes a bit of getting used to, but once you get it the vocal works well.

I have a 40 minute commute to and from work and I generally pass the time listening to audio books. I found this one very interesting.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I did not have that big an interest in the two characters, Anthony and Cleopatra. However, I am a big fan of Goldsworthy`s in depth coverage of Roman history.
This book can really be divided into two parts. The first half is all the background details regarding Anthony and Cleopatra. The reader is taken through Caesar`s conquests in Gaul, and the Greek Dynasty in Egypt.Then you move onto the civil war between Caesar and Pompey, and of course Caesar`s assassination. Meanwhile, you are also kept up to date on Cleopatra`s childhood in Alexandria.
Goldworthy covers a lot of material, and ends up just skimming over many of the important details. Perhaps the introduction half of the book, could have been a little more condensed.

In the second half of the book, the reader gets down to the meat and potatoes.Goldsworthy takes off in this section. He outlines the political and military struggles between Octavian and Antony. This period lasted over ten years. The two men battle for control of the Roman Empire. Octavian remained in Rome and Antony stayed with Cleopatra in the Eastern Provinces. Cleopatra maintains her kingdom in Egypt, but only through the blessing of Rome. Her and Antony risk everything, in their battle against Octavian.
Goldsworthy is always at his best, when describing military encounters. Antony`s engagement with the Parthian Empire and the Battle of Actium, make for very interesting reading.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 24, 2010
Schiff's Cleopatra is another triumph from the Pulitzer prize-winning author. Probably her most accessible book yet, it is a definitive portrait of the ubiquitous Egyptian Queen. Answering all your questions about what Cleopatra was really like, from her looks to her garments to her fabled city of Alexandria, Schiff beguiles us with the facts behind the Sphinx. From her relationships with Caesar and Marc Anthony to her famous ancestors, the Ptolemys, all is revealed. A must for the biography lover, amateur Egyptologist or history buff.
0Comment| 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 6, 2011
Once again Goldsworthy demonstrates why he is my favorite author of the Roman period. Instead of just jumping in to Antony and Cleopatra, we learn the backstory that helps frame the characters of the people in our story. Furthermore he tries to help us get an understanding of an entirely different set of social and religious standards that would otherwise be incomprehensible to us in the modern western world. Most of us could not fathom killing relatives and plotting to usurp power from parents and siblings. Goldsworthy explains the Ptolemaic dynasty back to Alexander the Great briefly, but enough for us to understand the world that Cleopatra was born in to. The same is true for Antony, a man with a big name, no money, and expensive habits... the author shows the easy path that takes him to Caesar. Antony is a competent but far from outstanding general. Combine that with a complete lack of vision or ability to develop long term strategy and its easy to see that Antony's ultimate fate was inevitable years before the Battle of Actium. A great read if you're a history buff...A great read even if you're NOT a history buff.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 6, 2014
I bought this to read because my book club suggested it. I really like the history aspect of this book and can now understand better the context of the time.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 31, 2015
This is a brilliant biography by a renowned historian. I could not put the biography down and stayed up all night. Schiff makes Cleopatra jump off the page.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 31, 2011
A fascinating account of a complex woman,this book goes past the popular melodramatic myths. I loved the accounts of the economics of the time, Cleopatra's education, the rights of Egyptian women, and the level of sophistication of that society. The battle scenes/descriptions were a little dry for my taste, but overall, a great read.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Customers also viewed these items