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Cleopatra the Great: The Woman Behind the Legend
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Cleopatra the Great: The Woman Behind the Legend

by Joann Fletcher
 

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“Joann Fletcher has the good grace and specialist knowledge to do away with Roman romances. This book’s bedrock is Egyptology. . . . Cleopatra was, indeed, not just a ‘baleful beauty;’ she was great.” —History Today 

World-renowned Egyptologist Joann Fletcher offers an extraordinary look at one

Overview

“Joann Fletcher has the good grace and specialist knowledge to do away with Roman romances. This book’s bedrock is Egyptology. . . . Cleopatra was, indeed, not just a ‘baleful beauty;’ she was great.” —History Today 

World-renowned Egyptologist Joann Fletcher offers an extraordinary look at one of Egypt's most intriguing leaders—the legendary Cleopatra. In the tradition of biographies by Stacy Shiff, Duane Roller, and Adrian Goldsworthy, and drawing on astonishing new evidence about Cleopatra’s life—including tax records, personal correspondence, and the discovery of her palace quarters beneath the Mediterranean Sea—Fletcher presents Cleopatra’s life in glorious detail, revealing the woman behind the myths.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Egyptologist Fletcher (The Search for Nefertiti) has undoubtedly established the new standard in biographies of the attractive, and probably redhaired, Cleopatra. Exceedingly well-written, her study of the last Ptolemy to rule Egypt is a comprehensive examination of Hellenistic bloodlines, Mediterranean history, Egyptian religion, and the rise of Rome as the ultimate ancient superpower. "oth traditionalist and innovator," Cleopatra was noted for her natural intelligence, superior education, and innate political instincts. Constantly striving to preserve her own authority and, by extension, Egyptian autonomy, she outwitted her co-regent brother and other Graeco-Egyptian rivals, and famously cemented personal and political alliances with Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius. Ultimately, of course, her abilities failed her, and Octavian, Caesar's nephew, reduced Egypt to a Roman province, an event Cleopatra chose not to witness. Hopefully, Fletcher's excellent work in every respect (it could only have been strengthened with information about the Egyptian people themselves) will not be lost in the wake of Stacy Schiff's bestselling Cleopatra. 8 pages of color illus. (Apr.)
Library Journal
In this superior study, published in the UK in 2008, Egyptologist Fletcher (honorary research fellow, archaeology, Univ. of York; The Search for Nefertiti) argues that Cleopatra's genius as a strategist, which allowed her to restore a fading Egypt to its former glory, is what makes her the "true heir" to her ancestor Alexander the Great. There are other recent notable Cleopatra biographies, e.g., Diana Preston's Cleopatra and Antony and Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra. While each brings something unique to the table—Schiff with her emotional investment in the queen who was a legend in her own lifetime, and Preston with her look into the reality behind the world's first "celebrity couple"—it is Fletcher who offers the most scholarly look at the real Cleopatra. The results make for a phenomenal book that provides a rich history of Cleopatra's time. The pacing is not slowed by the impeccable research employed by Fletcher to support her claims. VERDICT Those interested in Cleopatra, ancient history, or a well-written and academically sound biography will enjoy this authentic look at a queen of Egypt who managed to be all things to all people—mother, queen, goddess, and whore.—Crystal Goldman, San Jose State Univ. Lib., CA
Kirkus Reviews

Egyptologist Fletcher (The Search for Nefertiti,2004) takes on the legendary Egyptian queen.

The author not only fills in the blanks but also provides incredible detail about the lives of Egyptians during the 300-year reign of the Ptolemies. Beginning with the conquests of Alexander the Great and his search for a site to establish his eponymous city in Egypt, the author effortlessly examines the facts. Among numerous others, Fletcher exposes the largely unknown stories of Caesar's epilepsy, Cleopatra's vast intelligence and Mark Antony's dereliction of duty. Readers will be pleased to discover that many of the Cleopatra myths are based in fact. She really did have herself delivered to Caesar—whether in a sack or rolled in a carpet is immaterial—and there's also a much more plausible version of her suicide. Fletcher reveals a brilliant politician who knew enough to learn the language of her people in addition to the traditional Greek of Alexandria. In the years when the annual floods didn't appear, she quickly opened her stores to feed the country and win their hearts. Her parties were legendary; it was not unusual for guests to dine on gold or silver service and then have it, as well as the couch they reclined on, presented to them as gifts. While the Roman Empire conquered a great deal of the known world, Cleopatra surely got the better of Rome, controlling two of the empire's strongest leaders with her financial support, wit and sexuality. Neither Caesar nor Antony would ever have been able to control the Eastern part of the Roman Empire without Cleopatra. In return, Egypt received vast lands, incredible incomes and four heirs with impeccable bloodlines.

A perfect complement to Stacey Schiff's excellent Cleopatra: A Life (2010). Readers interested in Cleopatra and her world are advised to read both.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060585594
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/03/2012
Pages:
454
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Joann Fletcher is an honorary research and teaching fellow at the University of York, where she teaches Egyptian funerary archaeology and mummification. The author of numerous articles and books, she also lectures widely. She lives in Yorkshire, England.

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