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A masterfully told—and deeply human—story of love, politics, and ambition, Adrian Goldsworthy’s Antony and Cleopatra delivers a compelling reassessment of a major episode in ancient history.
In this remarkable dual biography of the two great lovers of the ancient world, Goldsworthy goes beyond myth and romance to create a nuanced and historically acute portrayal of his subjects, set against the political backdrop of their time. A history of lives lived intensely at a time when the world was changing profoundly, the book takes readers on a journey that crosses cultures and boundaries from ancient Greece and ancient Egypt to the Roman Empire.
Drawing on his prodigious knowledge of the ancient world and his keen sense of the period’s military and political history, Goldsworthy creates a singular portrait of the iconic lovers. “Antony and Cleopatra were first and foremost political animals,” explains Goldsworthy, who places politics and ideology at the heart of their storied romance. Undertaking a close analysis of ancient sources and archaeological evidence, Goldsworthy bridges the gaps of current scholarship and dispels misconceptions that have entered the popular consciousness. He explains why Cleopatra was consistently portrayed by Hollywood as an Egyptian, even though she was really Greek, and argues that Antony had far less military experience than anyone would suspect from reading Shakespeare and other literature. Goldsworthy makes an important case for understanding Antony as a powerful Roman senator and political force in his own right.
— Peter Heather
"[Goldsworthy] set[s] out simply and lucidly . . . [not just] the story of their affair . . . but also a portrait of the political and military world in which it took place."--Sam Leith, The Times (London)
— Sam Leith
— Christopher Silvester
— H. Chang
“Goldsworthy reveals that Antony and Cleopatra were far more complex, interesting, and ultimately human figures, than ancient propagandists or modern theorists have made them out to be. My guess is that they would approve, and so will readers.”—Guy MacLean Rogers, Wellesley College
"Outstanding: filled with fascinating details of personality, power, sex and death. This is the best book I've read on Antony and Cleopatra—gripping and flamboyant yet scholarly and magesterial."--Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Young Stalin and Jerusalem: The Biography
"[Goldsworthy] is excellent in puncturing the myth of Antony as a great Roman military tactician. . . . He is also refreshingly frank about the unimportance of Cleopatra herself. This was a world in which the power of Rome ruled."--Mary Beard, Financial Times
— Mary Beard
"Goldsworthy is a rising star on the historical scene and has a number of well-regarded books to his credit. This will likely add to his growing reputation . . . [as] a first-class historian."--Washington Times
"[Goldsworthy] does a splendid job of putting their lives in context and forcefully reminding us of the most salient aspects of their story while dispersing the romantic fog that has clung to them."--Christopher Silvester, The Express (London)
— Christopher Silvester
"[Goldsworthy] tells the story of [Cleopatra''s] dynasty with huge skill. . . . Carefully interweaved into this extraordinary tale is another: the rise of Rome from tatty city state to Mediterranean domination."--Peter Heather, BBC History Magazine
— Peter Heather
“The book has considerable advantage over most of the other ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ histories on the shelves, providing a very detailed political and military account of the development of the two most important centers of the ancient world.”--The National Interest
Posted January 10, 2011
Dr. Goldsworthy is a highly respected historian in this field, and one of my favorites. While his scholarship is superior, he knows how to write for the ancient history neophyte without condescension. One of the things I like best about his work is his honesty. It's refreshing. He understands the limitations of the historical record and explains them to his reader. In the first 13 pages of this book he does an excellent job critiquing the more recent studies of Cleopatra. I couldn't help but think of one of the more egregious examples of the abuses he describes - Stacy Schiff's "Cleopatra" - though he likely was unaware of her book at the time he wrote since his book was published earlier. Goldsworthy has no axe to grind. His narrative is plainspoken and engaging. One senses that he feels he owes his subjects an honest and accurate telling of their story. In this work he offers some interesting conclusions - one of those being that Antony was not quite the general that many historians make him out to be. His greater experience was in administration and most of his military successes were in leading small unit actions. His victory at Phillipi was due more to the incompetence of his opponents than his own warrior prowess or tactical genius. Neither Antony nor his generals had ever led such a large army as they did in the Parthian campaign. Goldsworthy does a good job explaining Antony's logistical and tactical blunders. He believes Antony's failure in this campaign set the tone for the rest of his life. He returned to Cleopatra dispirited and broken. If you browse the book @ the store, read page 306 for a taste of his approach to his subject matter. To be frank - if you want to read history; if you want to know what the historical evidence tells us, read this book. If you want polemic or romance, you best look elsewhere.
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Posted February 22, 2015
Adrian Goldsworthy has becoming a leading historian of the Roman era. Antony and Cleopatra is not quite as essential as some of his other books (The Punic Wars, Caesar, Why Rome Fell) but it is interesting. Goldsworthy is interested in the lovers as political figures rather than romantic icons or, in the case of the queen, a feminist icon. He does not downplay their affair but explains that more than romantic attraction was involved. Cleopatra needed a Roman protector and the sometimes insecure and broke Antony needed both admiration and cash.Civilization should be grateful that Antony's bid for power failed. The empire would have continued on from one warlord to another and the spread of Christianity would have been made much more difficult. I have purchased and plan to soon read the follow-up volume, Augustus, which concludes a trilogy that began with Caesar.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 13, 2010
Adrian Goldsworthy's book is a great story in ancient roman history.
This great book would be an outstanding to private library of anyone interested in ancient roman history.
Posted September 28, 2010
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