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Cleopatra's Palace : In Search of a Legend Hardcover – February 16, 1999

4.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Founded in the late 4th century B.C. by its namesake, the conquering Alexander of Macedon, the Egyptian city of Alexandria enjoyed a near-perfect site: "a flat and narrow limestone expanse at the edge of the Nile delta, some thirty miles west of the great river's westernmost branch" that stood before a superb deep-water harbor. The Ptolemaic dynasty that Alexander founded produced, three centuries later, Egypt's last true pharaoh, Cleopatra, who built on the site fabulous structures of marble, granite, precious gems and metals, and glasswork--a palace complex renowned throughout the ancient world. Cleopatra, writes Laura Foreman, was both "a hard-headed pragmatist and at the same time a devout mystic," a stern ruler whose position was constantly challenged by rivals to the throne and the ever-expanding Roman empire alike. Caught on the losing side in a power struggle between the Roman generals Octavian and Antony, Cleopatra committed suicide; with her death came the end of Ptolemaic power.

History did not forget her, but the elements (particularly the rising Mediterranean sea) swallowed up much of the ancient city of Alexandria. In the late 1980s, an international team of archaeologists began to excavate the underwater ruins of ancient Alexandria. Foreman documents their work in this richly illustrated, well-written reconstruction of the ancient past, a book that armchair Egyptologists will find irresistible. --Gregory McNamee

From Publishers Weekly

Launching Discovery Books, a joint venture of Random House and the Discovery Channel, this imaginative biography of Cleopatra is a queer blend of substance and sentimentality. Prompted by deep-sea explorer Franck Goddio's recent discovery of Cleopatra's lost island, Antirhodos, the book chronicles Cleopatra's lifeAfrom her childhood education to her affairs with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony to her eventual suicideAthrough a splashy mix of history, images of artifacts and famous paintings, undersea photography and melodramatic writing. The book's most interesting parts may well be its abundant sidebars and boxes, which provide mini-profiles of Egyptian and Roman rulers, gods and historical events. The last chapter, "Discovery," briefly delineates the gradual erosion of Alexandria's remarkable palaces and enumerates explorers' subsequent attempts to recover the lost riches. The author recounts the work of Goddio's team, its reliance on innovative technology and the significance of its findings, but doesn't capture the heady excitement of the mission. As pleasing as this book will be to those unfamiliar with Cleopatra's story, readers interested in Goddio's groundbreaking work should wait for the TV documentary. (Mar.) FYI: The documentary Cleopatra's Palace will air on the Discovery Channel on March 14.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Discovery Books (February 16, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679462600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679462606
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 0.7 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,906,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. This is truly great reading. This book was so fascinating, I stayed up all night just to finish it. We are taken beyond mere history, and into the depths of the Roman rulers lives.
The author does an excellent job of sweeping you into the vast Roman Empire that had reined supreme for many years. From Alexander the Great, to the his successors of Ptolemys', Cleopatras' and Berenices', we take a brief but intimate look into their lives. The morally corrupt family that they were, reining high for many generations over this strange and exotic land.
Interesting as it is, Cleopatra was not actually Egyptian. Although depicted in many ancient drawings as a pharaoh, she was actually of Roman-Greek descent. Her rein to the throne was given to her through succession and birth.
Facts do not always play a key role in this book, as information is not always on hand. The author tends to insert information from her own imagination when she sees fit to do so. I had no problem with this, as she makes it clear that those are her own suppositions. This book reads out like a good fiction novel.
Towards the end of the book, we travel with the teams who made some of this research possible. There are many beautiful pictures throughout. This makes a great coffee table book. I think this is a great addition to any library, and for anyone to sit down and enjoy!
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book expecting to see a lot more information on the archaeology and actual history of Cleopatra's palace and Alexandria, but instead, found a sappy, pseudo-romantic fictionalized treatment of Cleopatra, Caesar, and Antonius. I wish the authors had included more examples of other palaces, some more maps and reconstructions based on other archaeology. If I had wanted a historical romance, I would have bought one. I feel this book was a waste of $$.
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By A Customer on March 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I loved the show on Discovery Channel and this book offers even more history on the life and legend of Cleopatra--as well as the amazing photos of finding her underwater ruins. This is great for the family and history buffs will love it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All of us have heard of Cleopatra, but very few movies and books ever go by factual record. In this book one can find out anything they wish to know about Cleopatra from her coppery hair color and Macedonian-Greek origin to the very daily life in which she lived! This book is a must have for all classrooms and libraries. It has something for everyone, child and adult. If you love Queen Cleopatra, world history or are doing a project on this amazing historic figure, I highly recommend a copy of this book!
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Format: Hardcover
She is the most famous woman of antiquity and with the very mention of Ancient Egypt, one rapidly thinks of Cleopatra and her seductions of two powerful Roman leaders.

Though the book does include some magnificent photographs of Cleopatra's palace,the book itself is very well written. Many have been interested with the myths of Cleopatra such as her "magnificent" beauty. Her "magnificent" beauty was showcased in the film "Cleopatra" with Elizabeth Taylor. Foreman tells the story wonderfully and pictures are just an added bonus. The story itself seduces the reader with the controvery regarding Cleopatra and her romances with two of the greatest military leaders of antiquity. But Foreman goes deeper than Cleopatra's romances. She goes back to Alexander the Great and his conquest in Egypt. And while you are reading the book, your imagination does go wild with the descriptions of palaces and romances and conquests and wars. However, it is difficult to put the whole story together as there are still many gaps missing and much of what is known of Cleopatra is found in fictional literature such as Shakespeare's for example. Though his plays do portray a beautiful Cleopatra, historians do argue her beauty was far from actual beauty. Historians say whatever she lacked in looks she made up in a fascinating personality and a dangerous intelligence only she possessed, but a personality and mind that Julius Caesar was seduced by and mostly in part that he was considered to be highly intelligent also. On part of Mark Antony, though he had great power, did not have the mind that Caesar did. Nonetheless, Cleopatra loved Antony. Though many by now know the story of Cleopatra, it still is a fascinating story to learn about. And what one does not know of the Egyptian queen, people can't help but wonder of her sexuality and her whole life in general.
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