Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff

March 23, 2015 Audio Books, Non Fiction, Women's Studies 8

Salutations Darling Bookworms!

I love learning new things. I think that’s sort of a bookworm thing, no? Unfortunately, a lot of times I struggle with reading non fiction (with the exception of memoirs.) Thank heaven that audio books exist! I recently downloaded Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff from my local library and holy cats! I went into this book knowing virtually nothing about Cleopatra and came out of it feeling like an expert. Seriously, I hope Cleopatra is an entire category at my next trivia night because I will OWN it.

cleopatraPrior to reading this book, Cleopatra evoked images of cheesy Halloween costumes and Elizabeth Taylor. I knew she had flings with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, and that she maybe killed herself with the help of a snake, but that was the extent of my knowledge. What a fascinating life this woman led! She was a brilliant and occasionally ruthless politician. Born into an incestuous dynasty any Targaryen would approve of, Cleopatra’s rule was often mired by familial infighting and assassinations. She became the paramour of two famous Roman rulers and deftly juggled an insane political climate.

Why is it that this powerful woman went down in history as little more than a temptress and minimalist Halloween costume? Stacy Schiff explores the historical records through a modern lense. Schiff strips away some of the cultural bias and explores what Cleopatra’s life and motivations truly were in a historical context. Ancient male historians were pretty quick to dismiss women’s achievements or chalk them up to feminine wiles and witchcraft. Also, the whole snakebite on the boob thing probably didn’t happen. Talk about your inefficient means of suicide. Our girl was smarter than that, y’all. If you have any interest in the life of Cleopatra, I cannot recommend this book enough!

Alright Bookworms, let’s experiment. What is the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the name “Cleopatra”?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I do not have Cleopatra’s insane wealth, so, you know. Every penny goes back into keeping me in books!*

8 Responses to “Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff”

  1. Jancee @ Jancee Reads

    I read this as a readalong for Nonfiction November. So, I learned that Cleopatra wasn’t even Egyptian or whatever. Seriously, who knew?? I loved this one too, perfect for anyone who loves to collect random facts.

    • Words For Worms

      Part of the reason I picked this up is because I couldn’t remember the title of the book you keep trying to get me to read. I thought this might have been the one, LOL!

      • Lost in Literature 108

        Well, I considered stating the title AGAIN, but then I thought you might not want to be my friend anymore, for being annoying.:)

        The book was Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran. Historical fiction, well researched. It starts at the time right before Cleopatra dies.

  2. Catherine

    I hate to say it but…Elizabeth Taylor is the first thing I think of but only because I love her. Then, because I also read this book- I think canny smart powerful woman.

    I’m like you, I don’t read much non-fiction. It doesn’t hold my attention but I agree with you completely on this book. I loved it so much I went on to read others about Cleopatra but this was the best.

Talk to me, Bookworms!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.