From Publishers Weekly
Going beyond the charisma and romance of two of history's greatest lovers, L.A. Times
Book Prize–winner Preston (Before the Fallow
) vividly puts their lives in the larger political context of their times. Preston explodes the legends, saying Cleopatra was less a seductress than a politically shrewd ruler, and Antony was not a hotheaded megalomaniac. Preston chronicles Cleopatra's life from her royal upbringing to her marriage to the new Roman emperor Julius Caesar, motivated, says Preston, by political ambition. After Caesar's murder, according to Preston, Cleopatra was wise to join political and sexual forces with Antony, who won favor in her eyes for rebelling against Octavian. For his part, Antony remained loyal to Cleopatra, viewing her as a partner with whom he could rule the Roman Empire. Although the tales Preston rehearses are familiar ones, she provides a rich context and speculates that if Antony and Cleopatra had defeated Octavian, then Cleopatra might have ruled in Judea more benignly than Herod. Her reception of Jesus of Nazareth might have been very different than Herod's, and history itself might have been altered. 30 b&w illus., one map. (Apr.)
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“If there is a better book about Cleopatra for today's reader, I don't know what it is… It’s a very good book.”—Washington Post
“Defying the traditional mythology that paints them as doomed star-crossed lovers, Preston places this amazing power couple firmly into the historical, political, and military contexts that shaped them and were, in turn, shaped by them.”—Booklist
“This very readable work is highly recommended to all history collections, as well as those in gender or women's studies and biography.”—Library Journal