Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff (audio)

Cleopatra is a wonderful biography that vividly brings the infamous queen and the land she ruled to life. Cleopatra has had an image problem and many myths about her life have cropped up over the past two thousand years. Stacy Schiff explores these myths and works to bring the true story of Cleopatra to life.

Cleopatra is known for being a seductress that used her feminine wiles to seduce two of the greatest men in history – Julius Cesar and Marc Antony. Schiff sorts through the legends and shows that Cleopatra was much more than a seductress, she was a great ruler. She had fabulous wealth, a wonderful education, and a great wit. She was able to keep Egypt out of the grasp of Rome for many years. She was one of the most influential rulers along the mediterreean, but when she tried to forge a new empire with Marc Antony, it was the end for both – and for Egypt.

Schiff wrote a magnificent book that had wonderful prose. The vivid scenes of Alexandria made me feel as though I was walking along the streets viewing the City. It made me really wish I could be there, but since I couldn’t, it was the next best thing. Schiff made history come alive in Cleopatra, and she also made a non-fiction historical story read like fiction. I found myself caught up in Cleopatra’s life and although I knew how it would end, I was intrigued by the details.

I loved the detailed history in Cleopatra. The book contained not only the history of the woman, but the history of the time including that of Julius Cesar, Marc Antony, and Octavian. Of particular interest to me was the history of King Herod of Israel. King Herod is the king of biblical fame that the Wise Men visit on their way to see Baby Jesus. Yes, the evil king who kills all of the children aged 2 and under in order to rid himself of the threat of Jesus. Herod had many dealings with Cleopatra as laid out in this book. It was intriguing seeing biblical history merge with the history of such a notorious woman. It seems that Herod killing babies to rid himself of a threat was in the mainstream of the ruthlessness that rulers of the day employed to keep their crowns.

I listened to the audiobook version of this book as read by Robin Miles. I thought Miles did a fantastic job reading the book. Her voice was pleasing to listen to and let the story evolve without turning into a monotonous and dry history reading.

Overall, Cleopatra is a book not to be missed, especially for all lovers of history, or anyone who is interested in the real woman behind the legend.

Cleopatra is my second audiobook for The Audiobook Challenge 2011.

Book Source: Review Copy from Hachette Book Group. Thank-you!


  1. Everyone is swooning over this bio -- it's a bit hefty for me to pick up now but it's totally on my someday TBR! Thanks for the review.