Cleopatra - Stacy Schiff


By Stacy Schiff

  • Release Date: 2010-11-01
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4
From 568 Ratings


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.


  • Cleopatra

    By Judi P
    I thought I knew about Cleopatra until I read this book! I feel like I know her and all the major players in her life. The authors research and her ability to write nonfiction like a novel makes this book one that cannot be put down.
  • My two cents worth

    By Chance$R
    The facts were the same as we have always heard but having such a vivd description of the world and what was going on in it at the time gave the whole story a brand new depth that was wonderful.
  • Cleopatra

    By creativethinker
    Well written biography about someone who is still wrapped in mystery and only partially revealed because of the lack of recorded information by consistent and reliable historians.
  • A great read

    By Charles Kibert
    Love her rhetorical style, very engaging, lyrical prose. Refreshing to see beyond the veils to a clear eyed portrait of a remarkable ruler at the end of the ancient world.
  • Cleopatra

    By Terriex
    Wonderfully written. Always interesting.
  • Cleopatra

    By MTeal22
    Hardly deserving of the term novel, this reads more like textbook or an opinionated listing of facts that jumps to and fro. The only thing that kept me reading is how fascinating the actual material is.
  • A bit over-rated

    By Eileen0902
    Having read rave reviews about Cleopatra, I was eager to read it. Unfortunately, I found it a bit disappointing. I kept feeling like I was reading People Magazine translated from the original hieroglyphics on parchment scrolls!
  • Fantastic and realistic!!!

    By MoonSylph
    I read a book on Cleopatra by Jacob Abbott, who presented Cleopatra to be a careless temptress; heavy on sensationalism and light on facts. This book was believable and explained historic events clearly. Clearly written, yet the story reads like a thriller; you will not be bored. It also makes you recognize all the myths surrounding this incredible woman. P.S. Though the disconnected footnotes are annoying, the pictures are excellent, especially on the iPad.
  • Cleofactra

    By Cary Serif
    A scholarly work, with language and cadence to match. Beware ( ;-> ), as an iBook, the supporting material, footnotes and photos, are removed from the text in a disjointed way and do not flow well with an electronic book's format.
  • Another misleading work of "nonfiction"

    By Chococherri
    If I could give this book zero stars I would.