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31 BC: Antony, Cleopatra and the Fall of Egypt. by David Stuttard, Sam Moorhead Paperback – May 1, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: British Museum Press (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714122742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714122748
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,503,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Barton Keyes on January 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Found it accurate and surprisingly complete. Have read several books on subject and learned about a few new aspects in this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Frank J. Konopka VINE VOICE on November 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
The British Museum certainly knows how to put a book together. They take an interesting subject have experts in that particular subject write the text, and then illustrate it with glossy photos that pertain, at least in some respect, to the subject of the book. That's what they have done in this history of Egypt and Rome.

It begins, as expected, with the arrival of Caesar in Egypt, and his meeting with Cleopatra. It goes on from there to tell the story of that relationship, the subsequent relationship between Cleopatra and Marc Antony, and closes with the complete takeover of Egypt by the Romans under Augustus. It's a fascinating tale, and it's well told.

Most folks are generally familiar with this story, if only from the overblown epic "Cleopatra" starring Elizabeth Taylor. But the real story is more than that. This book goes into the tale from the Egyptian side, particularly why and how Cleopatra acted as she did.

It becomes clear that Cleopatra's only goal was to have Egypt retain its independence from a greedy Rome seeking food supplies and other types of wealth. If Caesar was helpful she went with him, and the same was true of Antony, All of the historic figures are well fleshed out, and their motives and emotions are well recited.

Everyone knows the tragic end, of course, though there is some mystery about exactly Cleopatra died. Was it the asp, or poison, or perhaps some other method? We'll never know, so the asp story seems to stick, if only for the sheer dramatic impact of it.

This book is geared for the general reader, and flows nicely along. If you are at all interested in this subject, and don't want to trudge through some scholarly (boring) book about it, this one is for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lance B. Hillsinger on September 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
31BC, Anthony, Cleopatra, and the fall of the fall of Egypt is a rare combination. It has a "glossy" popular magazine style, with a picture on almost every other page, yet the text is definitely college-level reading. However, especially in the beginning of the book, the text is too academic. There are just too many historical references for the general reader to grasp.

At the beginning of chapters 1 and 2, and elsewhere, 31BC tries to play to the general reader. There's nothing wrong with some dramatic storytelling in a serious history book, but the beginning of Chapter 2 has Cleopatra delivered in a bag (others sources say it was a rolled up carpet) to Caesar. This assumes the reader knows (or remembers from college many years ago) why she had to engage in such a ruse. The ending of chapter 1, with the citizens of Alexandria waiting for Cleopatra to return triumphant from the Battle of Actium was no help to the reader trying to understand the beginning of Chapter 2.

While the general reader is likely unfamiliar with the significance Battle of Actium, he or she is at least vaguely aware of the end-of-life stories of Anthony and Cleopatra. Here 31BC shines. The authors in an accurate, yet interesting way describe the political/military situation leading to the Battle of Actium and the events after the battle which led to Anthony and Cleopatra's choosing suicide. We see Cleopatra as she likely truly was, a queen to her people first, and a lover of Mark Anthony second. Unlike the romantic notion of Cleopatra rushing to join Anthony in death, we see her, until the very end, trying to salvage some soverignity for her people.

For its easy glossy look, but serious, if occasionally confusing narrative, 31BC deserves four stars. Just to be clear, 31BC while "glossy" is still a textbook and textbooks rarely make good gifts. However, if this era of history that is of personal interest, 31BC is worth buying as a "gift" for oneself.
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History is written by the victors and it is well known that Augustus was a prime example of influencing the historians of his time. I realize that we don't have much else to go on when it comes to the years following the death of Julius Caesar through the death of Antony and Cleopatra. But when I first started the book and the authors claimed to be taking a different look at he Antony/Cleopatra story, I got intrigued by the idea of a new perspective. Well, as to be expected, there was nothing new. All they did was take the romantic basis out of the story (which I think most serious history buffs take with a grain of salt anyway.) So for me the book just made Antony look like a complete and spineless, totally hedonistic twit AFTER Octavian assumed power. This book comes off no different than the historians of the time who were fearful of Octavian. I suspect the truth lies somewhere in between the idealized romance and the totally ambitious machinations of Cleopatra and a stupefied Antony, but it is a truth we are never going to know.
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