Monday, May 16, 2011

Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff

Title: Cleopatra
Author: Stacy Schiff
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company

What's the Story?: "Her life spanned fewer than 40 years, but she was the last Egyptian pharaoh and one of the most influential women of the age. She married twice, each time to a brother; she poisoned one and waged a war against the other. To this day, the life of Cleopatra VII (69-30 B.C.) intrigues us. This adept biography by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff tells us why it should. The true story of the woman behind the myth.

My Two Cents:

What I knew of Cleopatra before this book was mostly what I had gleaned from fictional books and movies where Cleopatra is shown as sensual woman who gets her way mostly through feminine wiles and not necessarily through the crazy amount of power she had. As a woman, I think it would pretty much suck to only be remembered for your romantic escapades and not your extremely amazing statesmanship. This book seeks to change people's perspective on Cleopatra and to enlighten people on all of the amazing things she did as a ruler of Egypt.

What I especially liked in the book is the description of Cleopatra's world. It's interesting how small people of her time thought the world was round (although at that point, the Egyptians already knew the world was round, they pretty much forgot the Western Hemisphere). I also loved the descriptions of Alexandria. I so would have loved to spend time in the library there. It was also striking to see how Rome was considered to be quite backwards in comparison to Alexandria. 

I would definitely recommend this book. It's a very interesting biography of a truly amazing person!

My Review:
4 out of 5 stars


  1. I have got to get my hands on this book, everyone just raves about it! Thanks for another great review!

  2. This one looks really interesting, especially since it sounds more historically accurate than most portrayals in media. I like this new trend of taking well-known women in history and delving past the assumptions/stereotypes (such as with Madame Tussaud, even if it was fictional.)

  3. Great review! I just read Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran and it was really good. Cleopatra was only in the beginning of the book, but she was so interesting I wanted to read more about her. This looks like a great book to start with- thanks!

  4. @Amy It's a really, really good biography. Schiff's writing is very engaging!

  5. @Jenna (Literature and a Lens) Yes, it's really unfortunate that Cleopatra is portrayed so wrongly in so many things when her real story is so interesting by itself!

  6. @Anne I really want to read Cleopatra's Daughter now. I bought it at a book sale not too long ago.


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