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Cleopatra: A Life
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Published:
Little, Brown and Company 2010
Lexile measure:
1070L
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Description
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.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
11/01/2010
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780316172875
ASIN:
B003YFIVHW
Lexile measure:
1070
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Stacy Schiff. (2010). Cleopatra: A Life. Little, Brown and Company.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Stacy Schiff. 2010. Cleopatra: A Life. Little, Brown and Company.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life. Little, Brown and Company, 2010.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Stacy Schiff. Cleopatra: A Life. Little, Brown and Company, 2010. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Stacy Schiff is the author of Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov), winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Saint-Exupéry, a Pulitzer Prize finalist; A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, winner of the George Washington Book Prize and the Ambassador Book Award; Cleopatra: A Life, winner of the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for biography; and most recently, The Witches: Salem, 1692. Schiff has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and named a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by the French Government, she lives in New York City.
      • name: Stacy Schiff
publishDate
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title
Cleopatra
fullDescription
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.
gradeLevels
      • value: Grade 6
      • value: Grade 7
      • value: Grade 8
      • value: Grade 9
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from December 20, 2010
        From its opening strains of music, this audiobook of Schiff's stellar biography of the Egyptian queen rewards the intellect and the senses. As Schiff dusts away history's spider webs, romance's distortions, and sexism's corruptions to reveal the true (or at least the truest possible) portrait of Cleopatra, Robin Miles's voice is deep, confiding, the perfect instrument to introduce a history that has been variously forgotten, misunderstood, or suppressed. Her enunciation is crisp, her pacing pure charm: she wrings every sentence for meaning, irony, and wit, taking us through pages of description or analysis with a stately pace. A Little, Brown hardcover.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        September 15, 2010

        A Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer presents a swift, sympathetic life of one of history's most maligned and legendary women.

        New Yorker contributor Schiff (A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, 2005, etc.) acknowledges that our image of Cleopatra VII arrives through the distorted lenses of biased (male, Roman) history, romanticized and melodramatic stage productions and films and the distortion of time itself. Cleopatra, a suicide at 39—despite the legend of the asp bite, it was probably poison, writes the author—ruled for 22 years. During that time, she took into her bed some of the most powerful men in history (Julius Caesar, Mark Antony), maneuvered through a male world with intelligence, skill and sanguinary brutality, met and failed to charm Herod and bore children to both Caesar and Antony. Schiff reminds us that Cleopatra and her family were not related to the Egyptian pharaohs but descended from Ptolemy, a Macedonian general with Alexander the Great. She also reminds us that Caesar's Rome was not the Rome of later glories and depravities. The Coliseum did not yet stand, nor did the Pantheon or any number of other Roman architectural marvels. Born in 69 BCE, Cleopatra entered a family for whom the word internecine was surely invented—killing family members standing in the way was routine, and Cleopatra was not above it. The young girl was intellectually quick, savvy and willing to learn, and she soon made her first significant conquest: Caesar. She came to Rome to see him, causing uproar, for Rome was an empire that had a gender test for human rights (women need not apply). Schiff notes that Caesar's assassination was a political disaster for Cleopatra, but she quickly recovered, won Antony and enjoyed a number of amazingly powerful and profligate years before history and the forces of Octavian brought her down.

        Successfully dissipating all the perfume, Schiff finds a remarkably complex woman—brutal and loving, dependent and independent, immensely strong but finally vulnerable.

        (COPYRIGHT (2010) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        September 1, 2010

        Pulitzer Prize-winning author Schiff (Vera [Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov]) offers another fine biography here. Though few reliable records remain regarding the Egyptian queen, this book peels back the layers of mystery surrounding Cleopatra and attempts to reveal a legend in her own time. While Schiff takes a few liberties by ascribing emotion to her subject, she demonstrates an immense amount of research. Her narrative does not so much bring forward anything new about Cleopatra as it presents her to the contemporary reader in a more accessible and, indeed, engrossing way. The results complement Diana Preston's Cleopatra and Antony: Power, Love, and Politics in the Ancient World, which examined the reality behind the first "celebrity couple," also with an eye to contemporary readers. VERDICT With her new book, Schiff showcases her skill at capturing a life. Her prose is elegant but easy to read and briskly paced. In spite of extensive research, Schiff's projection of emotions and motivations onto her subject tilts the results more toward pop history than real scholarship. Undergraduates, lovers of biography or ancient history, and those seeking an introduction to Cleopatra will delight in this take on the near-mythical last queen of Egypt. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/10.]--Crystal Goldman, San Jose St. Univ. Lib., CA

        Copyright 2010 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        October 15, 2010
        For those who think they know enough about Cleopatra or have the enigmatic Egyptian queen all figured out, think again. Schiff, demonstrating the same narrative flair that captivated readers of her Pulitzer Prizewinning V'ra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) (1999), provides a new interpretation of the life of one of historys most enduringly intriguing women. Rather than a devastatingly beautiful femme fatale, Cleopatra, according to Schiff, was a shrewd power broker who knew how to use her manifold giftswealth, power, and intelligenceto negotiate advantageous political deals and military alliances. Though long on facts and short on myth, this stellar biography is still a page-turner; in fact, because this portrait is grounded so thoroughly in historical context, it is even more extraordinary than the more fanciful legend. Cleopatra emerges as a groundbreaking female leader, relying on her wits, determination, and political acumen rather than sex appeal to astutely wield her power in order to get the job done. Ancient Egypt never goes out of style, and Cleopatra continues to captivate successive generations.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2010, American Library Association.)

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shortDescription
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....
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awards
      • source: The New York Times
      • value: 10 Best Books of 2010
subtitle
A Life
publisher
Little, Brown and Company