Cleopatra and Antony
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Cleopatra and Antony

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  249 ratings  ·  31 reviews
On a stiflingly hot day in August, 30 B.C., the thirty-nine-year-old Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, took her own life, rather than be paraded in chains through Rome by her conqueror, Octavian, the future emperor Augustus. A few days earlier, her lover of eleven years, Mark Antony, had died in her arms following his own botched suicide attempt. Oceans of mythology have grown up...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published July 1st 2009 by Walker Books Ltd (first published January 1st 2008)
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Despite the title, the book is less about Cleopatra and Antony, and more simply about the Romans, in particular Caeser, Antony, and Octavian.

And that, in short, is my only problem with this book.

Preston writes in her introduction that Cleopatra deserves first place when listing the couple and that much of what we know about Cleopatra comes from Octavian's propganda machine. Considering this and the title itself, one would think that the book delivers Cleopatra and Antony from the propganda machi...more
Steven Peterson
This is a well written and detailed work outlining the arc of the relationship between Roman leader Mark Antony and Egyptian queen Cleopatra. For those interested in this couple--and the context in which their relationship developed--will find this a good book to read.

The context for the Antony-Cleopatra liaison is well recorded. The civil wars in Rome, featuring leaders such as Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Crassus, Caesar, are well described, outlining the nasty internal turmoil roiling Rome and its...more
This book was very well researched. It isn't riveting, but, definitely, intellectually stimulating. It reads a little dry, but I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in Egyptian or Roman history.

There is an error in the book. The author states the Cleopatra did not have black African ancestry. However, new evidence has shown this to be false. The remains of her sister, Princess Arsinöe, have been identified. Studies of her skull, including reconstruction, show that she was of mixed ance...more
Sherry Leffert
I really loved this book. This book filled a gap in my education. It fleshed out the story of Cleopatra and Caesar and then Cleopatra and Antony, presenting historical background and intimate details in a continually interesting and compelling style. It closes with a projection of how the world might have been, had Antony and Cleopatra, rather condemning themselves to death, ruled the world. A provocative ending to the gripping, dramatic and tragic story of their lives.
Very readable so far. I like the little details. Unfortunately less of a cultural history and more of just a history history. And not really much about Cleo, either.
The title of this book is extremely misleading. I have read a great deal on the topic of Cleopatra and was [foolishly] hoping that the title would be accurate and perhaps I would gain more knowledge of this powerful couple. However, the majority of the book is centered around Roman maneuvers, so much so that Cleopatra and Antony are barely mentioned in the first half of the book. The very beginning does go into the details of Cleopatra's heritage/family tree. Even in this there is a great deal o...more
Aug 14, 2009 Michelle rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History buffs, Egyptomaniacs
Shelves: egypt-rome
I read this book to determine whether a fave historical-fiction novel, The Memoirs of Cleopatra, is as well-researched as reputed, so to that end, I am very happy because it does corroborate the major events and even many of the colorful anecdotes (Anthony pranking Cleo while "fishing," their debaucherous secret clubs, his bad case of the blues after Actium, etc.).

As a work of nonfiction, I was really impressed with the degree of research Preston undertook. She's read all classical primary sourc...more
I'm not sure how you can make a book about Cleopatra and Anthony boring, but Diana Preston gave it the "college try."

This book is pretty much a rehash of every blah book you've ever read or heard about that dealt in passing with Cleopatra, Anthony, Octavian, and Julius Caesar. It's nothing new, nothing revelatory, and nothing that interesting.

Preston reassures us over and over about the great love that Anthony and Cleopatra shared, which they very well may. However, I'm going to need more than "...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
This was a spectacular accounting of the time period. She stayed absolutely factual and, was very meticulous about dates and occurrences that could have separate comments made for varying circumstance. Her writing was flawless. One word of caution to the would be reader: this book by no means focuses exclusively on Antony and Cleopatra, nor it is a flowery account of love or any other such thing. It is a beautiful retelling of the time period based on what we know and is available (barring the S...more
Kate Lawrence
Since I know so little about Roman history, and never saw the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton movie, I was able to approach Cleopatra without preconceptions. The author, a historian skilled at keeping the reader's interest, presents just enough detail to be tantalizing, but not too much. As I result, I never got confused, despite the complexity of Roman politics and constantly shifting alliances between the various leaders and factions. Nor was I ever bored--what a ride these two had! Cleopatra...more
The contrasts of the various cultures of the time was beautifully explained in this novel. Diana Preston cited very many outside sources from the time of Antony and Cleopatra offering first hand accounts of a time period most people speculate on. Utilizing vivid descriptions and footnotes the time period was very easy to understand. For today's reader this novel is a great tool in beginning to understand Roman culture, fun facts included along the side. Nothing was put off when it was mentioned...more
Smith Barney
Provocatively fascinating..portrayal of one of history's most formidable iconic female warriors Cleopatra.

A most favored historical hero..I never tire of reading any and all interpretations of her existence.
Jessica Sands
Jul 27, 2014 Jessica Sands rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students, anyone with a lot of interest in ancient history
Although it took me about a year to finish reading (largely due to the fact that the beginning of the book was a tad dry and I am more than a tad impatient) I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
The beautiful writing Diana Preston used had me wrapped up in luxurious scenes of Antony and Cleopatra enjoying feasts and relaxing in incense filled rooms.
This joint biography of Cleopatra and Antony is a great man's (and woman's) history of their times. It is a fast and entertaining read. Diana Preston is not a specialist in the period and appears to take some care in interpreting the imperfect and unreliable ancient sources, but does not always help herself from reprinting the striking and romantic versions of the story as true. Learning more about Egyptian history and the amazingly brutal incest and murders in the royal family puts an interesti...more
Preston relies heavily on Plutarch and does not attempt to read into his motives as a biographer. This gives her a bit more structure to work with via a narrative that closely follows ancient accounts like a ship hugging the coastline. As the first half of the book centers on Caesar and sets up the second, dealing with Antony the story is compelling and clear. However, the book's title is misleading as it seems to indicate that the narrative will deal only with the relationship between Antony an...more
This was a very cogent description of Cleopatra's life and role. I particularly appreciated Preston's interpretation of the motivations of the commanders at the Battle of Actium. She brings the personalities to life without going far beyond the historical facts.

Note that Preston put's Cleopatra's name first in the title. Her thesis is that Cleopatra was a major actor, herself, with as much force of personality as Antony.
Anna Hargett
This a great historical book. If you are looking for more of a romance novel between Antony and Cleopatra, this is not it. Preston writes about historical accounts but does it well and keeps it interesting. This is not a quick read. There is a lot of information in this book, but Preston does it right and makes the history come alive.
Non-fiction book which encompasses Egyption and Roman history during time period that Cleopatra was on the throne of Egypt and Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus ruled Rome. Well researched. Written in an interesting style. Glad to find another historian whose books are very readable.
Robert Hart
Apr 17, 2011 Robert Hart is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I've just picked this up for $9 (reduced from $65) and am looking forward to reading it as it promises 'great scholarship'. I am interested in this couple as the battle of Actium is one of my favourite historical 'what ifs', quite apart from the glorious Shakespeare play!
Dana *
I have read a few recounts of this story, since I am so interested in Egypt. This meshed well with what I have already read. I think I found the Memoirs of Cleopatra to be the most comprehensive, if slightly one sided of them all.

Reads like a novel. I only got about 3/4 of the way before putting it down for good. I find it was missing what I was looking for. The Cleopatra and Antony story. It's definitely a read for people interested in Roman history.
Kristina Parker's pick for C'Ville bookclub, June 2011. Well, I can say I read it, but it certainly confirmed that history is not my forte - at least not military/political history!
I almost got dizzy when I saw this in the store: a new Cleopatra book that looks credible and well-done. A rare thing indeed. I am so excited to read this!
While this wasn't one of my favorites, and I sometimes found the side notes irritating, it was more than worth the $.04 I paid for it on Amazon.
A lot more information than the Chaveau book. Stresses the military viewpoint of what was happening during this time period.
Lise Chanin
Was interesting to see the focus more on Cleopatra's abilities as a head of state rather than all about her sex appeal.
Sep 11, 2009 David marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
"... lively... graceful... detailed... textured... provocative..." -- Washington Post, 3 May 09
too much like a text book....layed it aside
Easy read and very interesting!
May 01, 2012 Dee marked it as to-read
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From Walker Books:

Born and raised in London, Diana Preston studied Modern History at Oxford University, where she first became involved in journalism. After earning her degree, she became a freelance writer of feature and travel articles for national UK newspapers and magazines and has subsequently reviewed books for a number of publications, including The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles T...more
More about Diana Preston...
A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer: The Life of William Dampier The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story of China's War on Foreigners that Shook the World in the Summer of 1900 Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy Taj Mahal: Passion and Genius at the Heart of the Moghul Empire Before the Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima

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