Cleopatra: A Life – Book Review

This is a post by Contributor Lori Horst. To learn more about Lori, go to the About page.

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff is a Pulitzer Prize winner and it is no surprise why.  The subject—Cleopatra—has entranced people for centuries and Schiff finally gives her a fair shake.  Not a wanton temptress or a wicked witch of the East, but instead a crafty ruler desperate to hold on to her throne and her country.


Everyone knows Cleopatra and many of her exploits and experiences, but this biography makes her truly come alive.  She was not the great beauty soon to be portrayed by Angelina Jolie on the big screen.  Instead Cleopatra’s allure had nothing to do with beauty, but with charm and intelligence.  She lived in a country where women were the equals of men in a time when that was not only unheard of, but also unholy.

Schiff’s footnotes are sometimes even more interesting than her prose above it (so don’t skip them!).  Unfailingly fair and well-researched, this biography is a must-read and happily, it is even more read-able than a novel.  I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone and hope the great Cleopatra will live on due to this remarkable book.

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