Lila's Reviews > Cleopatra: A Life

Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
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's review
Nov 15, 2011

really liked it

Cleopatra, A Life is a great biography about one of the most famous and misunderstood women in history. Schiff handles the details of Cleopatra's life with refreshing honesty. When there's a lack of data, and there often is, Schiff supplies the reader with a caveat, and then provides the various possibilities to fill in the timeline. Since it is a biography, the book starts with Cleopatra's early life and ends with her death, not by snakebite as commonly believed. The book does not read like a boring history, but uses active voice consistently throughout the text to keep a reader fully engaged. A sentence like "For the next years she struggled to turn the implacable Roman tide to her advantage, changing patrons again after Caesar's murder, ultimately winding up with his protege, Mark Antony," could easily be rewritten as "Cleopatra was very resourceful" followed by a list of dates proving that point. If I ever have to write a biography, or even autobiography, I will look to Schiff's book for a model on how to keep readers engaged in history, and how to be honest about it.
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08/14 marked as: read

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