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Extended Audio Sample Cleopatra: A Life Audiobook, by Stacy Schiff Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.00006745135071 out of 53.00006745135071 out of 53.00006745135071 out of 53.00006745135071 out of 53.00006745135071 out of 5 3.00 (29,651 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Stacy Schiff Narrator: Robin Miles Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2010 ISBN: 9781607887027
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Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer Stacy Schiff brings to life the most intriguing woman in the history of the world: Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt.

Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnets, and gold but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator.

Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as well; incest and assassination were family specialties. Cleopatra appears to have had sex with only two men. They happen, however, to have been Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, among the most prominent Romans of the day. Both were married to other women. Cleopatra had a child with Caesar and—after his murder—three more with his protégé. Already she was the wealthiest ruler in the Mediterranean; the relationship with Antony confirmed her status as the most influential woman of the age. The two would together attempt to forge a new empire, in an alliance that spelled their ends. Cleopatra has lodged herself in our imaginations ever since.

Famous long before she was notorious, Cleopatra has gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. Shakespeare and Shaw put words in her mouth. Michelangelo, Tiepolo, and Elizabeth Taylor put a face to her name. Along the way, Cleopatra’s supple personality and the drama of her circumstances have been lost. In a masterly return to the classical sources, Stacy Schiff here boldly separates fact from fiction to rescue the magnetic queen whose death ushered in a new world order. Rich in detail, epic in scope, Schiff ’s is a luminous, deeply original reconstruction of a dazzling life. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “In Cleopatra: A Life…Schiff strips away the accretions of myth that have built up around the Egyptian queen and plucks off the imaginative embroiderings of Shakespeare, Shaw and Elizabeth Taylor…In doing so, she gives us a cinematic portrait of a historical figure far more complex and compelling than any fictional creation, and a panoramic picture of her world…Schiff seems to have inhaled everything there is to know about Cleopatra and her times, and she uses her authoritative knowledge of the era—and her instinctive understanding of her central players—to assess shrewdly probable and possible motives and outcomes.”

    New York Times

  • “This is an astonishing, scrupulously researched, meticulously assembled retelling of one of the world’s most famous lives—and it will become a classic.” 

    Simon Winchester 

  • “It is a beautiful pairing—the most alluring and elusive woman in recorded history, and one of the most gifted biographers of our time. Style, like leadership, is difficult to define, but we know it when we see it. We see it here on every page.”

    Joseph J. Ellis

  • “Stacy Schiff’s meticulous research, the depth and deftness of her portrayal, have given us a Cleopatra far richer and more satisfying than the myths and fantasies that we have mistaken for true nourishment. This Cleopatra is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the history and lives of women.”

    Mary Gordon

  • “The most compelling biography of the year.”

    Liz Smith

  • “Successfully dissipating all the perfume, Schiff finds a remarkably complex woman—brutal and loving, dependent and independent, immensely strong but finally vulnerable.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A 2010 Los Angeles Times Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2010 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2010 New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Selected for the November 2010 Indie Next List
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • One of the 2010 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books for Nonfiction
  • One of the 2010 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patricia Bracewell | 2/17/2014

    " Schiff brings to life the wonders of Alexandria -- making real for the reader a world so fabulous it is difficult to grasp how it could have existed two millennia ago. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Teri L. | 2/8/2014

    " Loved it, and learned about ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael | 1/14/2014

    " A stunning biography of one of the world's most iconic, and unknown, women. Schiff helps sift through facts and fiction to craft an amazing life story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David Mckinnon | 1/13/2014

    " This is less a biography of Cleopatra as it is a "biography" of her times. The book will disappoint those looking for the inside story of the lusty, notorious Queen of the Nile. But for those interested in Egypt and the glory that was hers, one need look no further. It was not quite what was expected, but it is a thoroughly satisfying read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carla Hanson | 12/28/2013

    " Fascinating. I really enjoyed this book. I was impressed with how knowledgeable and poised Cleopatra was for such a young woman. My only complaint was the cover of the book which makes it look like some sort of historical romance novel. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andre | 12/24/2013

    " A good biography of a quasi-mystical character. I loved her approach of comparing notes and establishing probable reasons-versions. In my mind, what a biography should be. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marla | 12/22/2013

    " When will I LOVE a pulitzer prize winner? Hasn't happened yet...what does that say?! :) "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lisa Laberge | 12/19/2013

    " I could not finish this book. I tried three times and gave up "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Beverley | 11/16/2013

    " Disappointing and in the end did not finish. i just couldn't seem to get into it at all. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Courtney | 11/2/2013

    " Ugh... wish i could have given it 0 stars. There's no story, and it's as though she took all of her research notes and just typed them. And then the editor just sent it to the publisher that way. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Virgil Larson | 10/4/2013

    " Great history. It's fun to learn more about this time and place. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Thor Kristensen | 5/31/2013

    " A mediocre history book with language problems, edited at all? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah Knight | 4/29/2013

    " Great book! Loved it learned a lot. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharon Wiatt | 4/21/2013

    " Remarkable book about a woman misunderstood and maligned due to the bias of historians, according to the author. I didn't realize how much I didn't know about history, culture, and geography. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carolyn | 12/22/2012

    " I sure wish I'd taken world history...everything was new to me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Elena | 12/12/2012

    " The opening chapters were wonderfully written, but I was overall disappointed with this book and didn't really learn anything new. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gabrielle | 11/29/2012

    " If this were my history textbook, I would have been THRILLED. Excellent non-fiction, but less storytelling than I would have liked. Stacy Schiff does a great job of helping readers visualize the times that Cleopatra lived in. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amy | 10/25/2012

    " The whole time I read this I felt like I was listening to a group of people talk about people I did not know and events that I had no interest in, nor could develop any interest in. The writing felt distant and that the author was looking at Cleopatra from the wrong end of the telescope. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen Anderson | 4/16/2012

    " wish this book was more detailed, Robert Massie has spoiled me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erika Jaeger-smith | 3/25/2012

    " Interesting historical details not just about Cleo but also about Julius Caesar. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donna Mcpeek | 5/25/2011

    " Fun read. I felt her personality and the tensions of the times. Once again a woman must find ways to survive and prevail in treacherous times. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mallory | 5/23/2011

    " Thought it'd be more of a story, not so much a history textbook. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Debbie | 5/21/2011

    " I only got part way through it before my audio book expired. Well written and it's nice to read re-re-written herstory! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shelley | 5/20/2011

    " Very interesting and highly readable! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Margaret | 5/18/2011

    " Not sure if I can make it through. Pretty speculative. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carolyn | 5/16/2011

    " A whole new side of the woman we know mostly through busts in an Egyptian museum and via Hollywood. A great history and beautifully told... "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jenna | 5/16/2011

    " Hard to read and not very interesting. Too academic. "

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About the Author
Author Stacy SchiffStacy Schiff is the author of Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov), which won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for biography and Saint-Exupéry: A Biography, which was a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities and was a Director's Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. Schiff lives in New York City.
About the Narrator

Robin Miles began her audiobook narration in 1994 covering many different genres and has won twenty-six AudioFile Earphones awards. In 2014 she won the prestigious Audie Award for Best Narration in the Inspirational/Faith-Based Nonfiction category. Her film and television credits include The Last Days of Disco, Primary Colors, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order, New York Undercover, National Geographic’s Tales from the Wild, All My Children, and One Life to Live. She regularly gives seminars to members of SAG and AFTRA actors’ unions, and in 2005 she started Narration Arts Workshop in New York City, offering audiobook recording classes and coaching. She holds a BA degree in Theater Studies from Yale University, an MFA in acting from the Yale School of Drama, and a certificate from the British American Drama Academy in England.