Little Brown and Company
On Sale: November 1, 2010
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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
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
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