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Cleopatra: A Biography

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  535 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
FIRST CASTLE BOOKS EDITION. 2004 Hardcover, Michael Grant (Gone). Queen of Egypt, scholar, murderer, lover of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony...the perfect subject for distinguished historian Grant, who debunks the image of a wayward woman and replaces it with a brilliant linguist and strategist.
Hardcover, 301 pages
Published February 28th 2004 by Castle Books (Memphis, TN) (first published 1972)
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Jeffrey Taylor
Mar 18, 2011 Jeffrey Taylor rated it it was amazing
This is an engrossing history about the last of the Pharaohs and the consolidation of power by the Romans. It takes the myth out of her story and attempts to remove the Octavian propaganda from her history. Highly informative, very interesting

Cleopatra A Biography by Michael GrantMichael Grant

Michael Grant
Laura Leilani
Mar 23, 2014 Laura Leilani rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Reading this book is like being there. True, it's not a made up novel, it is just facts carefully laid out along with their sources, but you never feel like that is what you are reading. You do not feel lectured to. It feels like you are there, watching and living it.

If you've never read a Michael Grant book before, this would probably be a good first choice. His style is, as always, amazing. He takes facts from dozens of sources and distills them all down into something fun to read. He lets yo
Roxane Lapa
Jul 24, 2011 Roxane Lapa rated it really liked it
I became fascinated with Cleopatra after watching the 1993 'Made-For-TV' 2 part movie called "Cleopatra" featuring Leonor Varela, Billy Zane & Timothy Dalton. An Egyptologist recommended I read this book by Michael Grant for it's authenticity and I'm not sorry I took the time. I was amazed to learn that she could speak 7 languages and was the first of her Dynasty to bother to learn how to speak Egyptian. She also authored treatises on makeup, alchemy and agriculture, and was a brilliant tact ...more
Jun 30, 2009 Carol rated it liked it
I read this biography as a follow-up to the Margaret George book about Cleopatra. What I learned from this book is a lot about the historical milieu that was not included in the George book. I also was able to sort of figure out which parts of the George book were actually based on historically known facts and which were made up out of her imagination to plump out the story.

This biography was not nearly as entertaining or engrossing as the memoir, but it was good, and I enjoyed it.
Erik Graff
Jun 05, 2010 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cleopatra fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
Michael Grant has published scores of books about ancient Greek and Roman history and personalities, some of them, such as his biography of Herod the Great and this one about Cleopatra, based on only a few sources which Grant digests and regurgitates in accessible modern English.
Mar 20, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio, nonfiction, history
Much better than the newer bio by Stacey Schiff!
Michael Stewart
Not overly long... about 250 pages of narrative. I don't read all the pages of the bibliography and references - no point if you're reading for pleasure and not scholarship.

Very breezy read... not stale at all. Really gave me a good understanding of the trials and tribulations and triumphs, not just the tragedy of Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. What a triumvirate they were! This biography also points out that the evidence (as of publication in 1972, anyway) shows that Cleopatra may no
Dec 19, 2012 Rachel rated it liked it
I know little to nothing about Cleopatra and had nothing to compare it to. That said, the myth/legend is more interesting than the truth offered in this book. The book has a lot of information and tries to present an unbiased history and it came off a little dry and boring. I guess that's what happens when you don't embellish, or have a lot of 2000 year old illustrative details to work with. This book did give me a better understanding of the history of power in that part of the world.

P.S. This
Russell Hall
Aug 06, 2011 Russell Hall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A splendid Biography. Grant is highly detailed in his research and description of what is known. With any subject of biography who has been dead for over two millennia it is difficult to be so precise. Grant also takes a world view of East verses West which seems more akin to the post 9/11 world than the ancient one. It serves to show how history is not just stories, but relationships among individuals and peoples throughout the world and time.
For someone who was married to Julius Caesar AND Marc Antony I'd have to say that Cleopatra was one amazing woman! Yet I wish this book could've been condensed to 10% of its length. It was way more involved in the history than I had interest. For people who love this kind of thing I'm sure it's fascinating. But I just found my mind wandering and getting bored on and off throughout the read.
Jun 07, 2012 Shannan rated it it was amazing
Sadly, this book has sat on my bookshelf for years, until I used it as source material for a last minute Western Civ paper. Not only was I able to quickly read through the book to find detailed information and facts for my paper but I also enjoyed reading the book. This book is well written and accurately details the life of Cleopatra.

This is my second Cleopatra read this year, the other was Cleopatra Last Queen of Egypt. Already I can tell that Grant's is probably what is termed 'scholarly' and Tyldesley's offering is a lighter touch.

You pays yer money and makes yer choice.
Aug 12, 2012 Brynn rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Great biography. Both more scholarly and more entertaining than the recent schiff bio. Grant clearly knows his stuff and half the fun is learning how scholars interpret the often highly biased source material.
Oct 14, 2012 Maria rated it it was amazing
I have read this one before and after the Shiff bio. While I think both are great and do their jobs well, this one attempted to set Cleopatra's story straight first and presented its source materials up front. An entertaining and elucidating read.
Ann Tonks
Whether I just don't have the capacity to read such a densely written biography or whether it is simply too complex too early I don't know. But for which ever reason, I just couldn 't plough my way through it.
Dec 15, 2009 Victoria rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
I read this when I was rather young and...and most of it went over my head. I think I read because an older friend was...but through this book began my love for biography, history, and social issues. Actually, it was Cleopatra's intriguing life that opened up the adventure of history for me.
Danielle Reily
This was an interesting book, but it confirmed that I am interested more in history after the twelfth century. Ancient history just doesn't grab my attention as much. I did find this biography interesting, and I learned a lot of new things about the period.
Milo Nick
A rather poor summary of the movie. Ha!
Jun 19, 2007 Kecia rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: academics
A bit too academic to be a good read. I liked it to the degree that it sorted out the myth of Cleopatra from the few facts that are known about her.
Aug 01, 2014 Richard rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I really enjoyed this book. It was well written, engaging, and engrossing. It was fun to dip into the lives of these ambiguous people from so long ago.
Susan Ozment
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 14, 2012 Erin rated it really liked it
Cool history.
Larry Van Bibber
Jun 16, 2012 Larry Van Bibber rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-lib
Very good bio
Jun 14, 2014 David rated it really liked it
Michael Grant is a superb historian who brings Cleopatra and Egypt of the times alive in this book.
Nancy Thackaberry
browsed through the rest
David Seals
Apr 11, 2012 David Seals rated it it was ok
review on my blog:
Mar 29, 2013 Millie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't stand the way that this book is written, which is such a shame as Cleopatra was a fascinating woman.
Jun 08, 2010 H rated it really liked it
Grant divulges the life of Cleopatra and paints her story with a complete background.
Jul 24, 2011 David rated it liked it
A good book but I gt bogged down by the source notes at the back. Evetually I lost interest about 2/3 through. Too bad.
Aug 05, 2011 Deborah rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Very good biography. I learned many new things I never knew before. They author also takes a very balanced approach especially in his imterpretation of her legacy.
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Michael Grant was an English classisist, numismatist, and author of numerous popular books on ancient history. His 1956 translation of Tacitus’s Annals of Imperial Rome remains a standard of the work. He once described himself as "one of the very few freelances in the field of ancient history: a rare phenomenon". As a popularizer, his hallmarks were his prolific output and his unwillingness to ove ...more
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