"As incandescent as was her personality, Cleopatra was every bit Caesar's equal as a coolheaded, clear-eyed pragmatist, though what passed on his part as strategy would be remembered on hers as manipulation."
This quote gives you a little perspective on this updated biography of Cleopatra. Cleopatra stands as one of the most powerful women in history. She was the last Ptolemaic pharoah; an intellectual; a keen strategist; and proved a successful and just ruler for much of her reign. Yet, as a strong woman, she challenged the patriarchal structure of the budding Roman Empire, and as such, history has stripped her of most of her agency and achievements--we are left with the popular image of her witchy social graces and how her lust took down both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
Stacy Schiff looks at Cleopatra's life and career as a whole, not just her sexual conquests. It is a biased biography, to be sure (as is most non-fiction I've read), but when one of the most powerful women in history has been reduced to the destruction caused by her lust, it's easy to see how biased other historians have been as well. Whether or not you reach the end of this riveting biography with a greater and more well-rounded appreciation for Cleopatra, you'll for sure begin to question the motives behind those in charge of relating history--past, present, and future. Anyone with an interest in the Hellenistic Era and Roman Empire will enjoy the drama set forth here as well.
I was hooked by this book, and the audio is excellent if you want to take a listen.