Skip to main content
PBS logo

Search - Cleopatra: A Life

Cleopatra: A Life
Cleopatra A Life
Author: Stacy Schiff
Her palace shimmered with onyx and gold but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first and poisoned the second; incest and assassination were family specialties. She ...  more »
Info icon
ISBN-13: 9780316001946
ISBN-10: 0316001945
Publication Date: 9/6/2011
Pages: 400
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.

3.2 stars, based on 42 ratings
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review
Read All 4 Book Reviews of "Cleopatra A Life"

Please Log in to Rate these Book Reviews

reviewed Cleopatra: A Life on + 38 more book reviews
Good - somewhat rambling at times, but I enjoyed it!
c-squared avatar reviewed Cleopatra: A Life on + 181 more book reviews
I opened this book thinking that it was a work of historical fiction. I may have developed that misconception due to the liberal amount of wine I consumed at the holiday book exchange where I viciously usurped the book. (Actually, I was following the exchange rules, but it sounds much more Ptolemaic the other way.) At any rate, somehow I missed the fact that this is a carefully researched biography.

I think I would have had a difficult time getting into the book, even without that misconception. The first few chapters are slow and, honestly, kind of boring. Schiff tries to recreate the world into which Cleopatra was born, but gets bogged down in the details. It also took a chapter or two to become accustomed to Schiff's often overly wordy, academic writing style. (Again, it doesn't help that I was expecting fiction, and have been reading quite a bit of light fiction lately.)

Schiff picks up steam in the middle chapters with Cleopatra's visit to Rome and Caesar's assassination, continuing with Cleopatra's relationship with Antony, etc. The end lagged a bit, too. I was interested in finding out what happened to Cleopatra's children, but then she just kept going on and on, I suppose in an attempt to wrap it all up.

Overall, it was a good book, especially enjoyable if you're interested in how history has often been rewritten by the victors (and men).