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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cleopatra the Great.
I loved this book. It had a lot of new ideas and I liked the fact that it was written by an Egyptologist and not a classical historian. It made a very refreshing change to see Cleopatra as an Egyptian pharaoh and not an adjunct of Rome. I liked the way descriptions of Egyptian ritual were included and the day to day lives of high status women. It covered much that is...
Published on 6 May 2010 by Clio

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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Readable but disappointing
Overall I was disappointed with this book, as despite the fact that the author has an easy writing style and a lot of information to share on ancient Egyptian religion it falls on its face for me because its filled with generalisations. The text does cover the main aspects of Cleopatra's life but the bulk of the book is volumes of detail concerning Egyptian religious...
Published on 10 Dec 2008 by Elizabeth Taylor


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cleopatra the Great., 6 May 2010
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This review is from: Cleopatra the Great: The Woman Behind the Legend (Paperback)
I loved this book. It had a lot of new ideas and I liked the fact that it was written by an Egyptologist and not a classical historian. It made a very refreshing change to see Cleopatra as an Egyptian pharaoh and not an adjunct of Rome. I liked the way descriptions of Egyptian ritual were included and the day to day lives of high status women. It covered much that is never included in the usual academic biographies, Dr. Fletcher is an expert in her field of ancient cosmetic usage and ancient toilets and she used this expertise to great effect The only complaint I have is that the notes were not numbered on the page and there were not nearly enough illustrations. Fortunately, I was able to make up the deficiency from my own library but I assume the lack of some important illustractions would be rather frustrating. However, an excellent, well written book and I look forward to more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended, 28 Nov 2009
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This review is from: Cleopatra the Great: The Woman Behind the Legend (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book and the author's previous one on The Search for Nefertiti. Would recommend especially if you enjoy reading about ancient history but don't want too 'academic' a text.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 11 Oct 2010
This review is from: Cleopatra the Great: The Woman Behind the Legend (Paperback)
A truly wonderful bio of thé most famous woman in history...
Joann not only gives us the information available from ancient sources, but she makes common sense of this information without vague possibilities...
I have read the new "bio" of Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff, and that is total crap, to say the least, do not bother buying it, this book by Joann is all you need!
Untill now the best book I have read about Cleopatra!
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Readable but disappointing, 10 Dec 2008
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Elizabeth Taylor (France) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Cleopatra the Great (Hardcover)
Overall I was disappointed with this book, as despite the fact that the author has an easy writing style and a lot of information to share on ancient Egyptian religion it falls on its face for me because its filled with generalisations. The text does cover the main aspects of Cleopatra's life but the bulk of the book is volumes of detail concerning Egyptian religious rituals, and, on that subject the author clearly knows her stuff. The issue for me was that after a while I found this level of detail quite annoying as the text would state its assumed that Cleopatra may have attended such a ritual or in all probability she may have or this is the type of thing she would have been exposed to - so I felt the author included the information to fill pages as not all of it seemed entirely relevant to the subject in hand.

I also did not like the fact that despite there being a huge 26 page bibliography there was no detailed index only an index per page so it was not entirely clear what was being pointed to as evidence and which statement was supposition. And if there was one phrase which was repeated on a regular basis it was ''Cleopatra as Alexander's descendant'' but this is clearly inaccurate as she may have had Greek ancestry but Alexander's biological offspring all died before puberty - and I am sure the Romans did not perceive her as such. To me this just summed up the lack of focus in some areas of the book.

So, those are the things I didn't like, what are the plus points? Well the author has a readable style, there is a lot of detail, the author manages to flesh out the characters making them seem understandably human rather than remote black and white lines on a old piece of papyrus, the detail surrounding Egypt is clearly in contrast to the Roman or should that be Octavian view of Cleopatra. I also found interesting the detail on the fate of Cleopatra's children which is not necessarily covered in other books. So, I think if you were new to the subject and interested in an overview of Cleopatra's life with a focus on Egypt and its gods, priests and rituals you would perhaps have a different perspective and may find it a totally enjoyable read.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's a decent read but has some MAJOR problems., 22 Feb 2012
This review is from: Cleopatra the Great: The Woman Behind the Legend (Paperback)
The subject matter is, of course, interesting and Fletcher selects and retells it well enough.
Here are the major problems though:
Lackadaisical scholarship: The way the footnotes are done - they are included in the back referenced by page number and NOT numbered in the text itself - seems whimsical and haphazard. Many odd 'facts' and comments are not referenced. What's the source?!!... or is there one.
Female slant: It is clear the author admires Cleopatra - much the way a teenage girl would admire a bubble gum pop star. Just a few basic facts on Cleopatra demonstrate how despicable she was: offing her close relatives to gain power; strategic marriages, sexual 'conquests', and resultant offspring - she was a whore; epic & extravagant partying; cowardice etc. ETC. As with most royalty (it's in their blood), take away their privileged upbringing and you have a common sewer rat.

If these criticism don't bother you, you are in for a fun read.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The life and times of Egypt's great Queen, 26 Nov 2008
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This review is from: Cleopatra the Great (Hardcover)
This book embarks on a project of drawing a real portrait of the life and times Cleopatra, sifting out a true picture, from the Roman propaganda Shakespearean fantasy.

Because Cleopatra restored Egypt to it's former glory by building an empire to Rome's detriment, her achievements were written out of history by the Roman propagandists, with most of the documentary evidence deliberately destroyed.

The author reveals the great impact and influence of Cleopatra, and traces her descent from Alexander the Great. Cleopatra was of Macedonian decent.
We also learn of Cleopatra's great intellectual acumen and her great knowledge of science and medicine.
The author gives us a detailed picture of religion, medicine, clothes, food and religion in Egypt and the Mediterranean at this time.
The author disproves some of the popularly believed legends disseminated in popular belief through false Roman accounts.
The author also gives evidence that Cleopatra unveiled herself before Caesar, rather than being unrolled in a carpet.
The book examines Cleopatra's influence on Caesar, and much of it involves Caesar's assassination and the civil wars that followed it.
We read of how Antonius gave vast swathes of land in the Levant to Cleopatra, and how her relationship with Antonius helped her to build a revived Egyptian Empire.
I learned from this book that the Idumean Arab king of Judea Herod was incensed by the friendship of Cleopatra with the Alexandra, the mother of Herod's Jewish Queen, and had planned to have Cleopatra assasinated, but abandoned those plans
We learn that while Cleopatra was often quite ruthless, Octavian had given her the chance of keeping her throne if she had Marcus Antonius killed.
I am not convinced by the author's claim that Cleopatra did not kill herself by holding an asp to her arm or breast, and that she rather had the poison extracted and injected with a pin.
I believe she did indeed hold an asp to her body.
Finally the book traces the aftermath of Cleopatra's death and the fate of her children including Cleopatra Selene who became Queen to Numidia's king Juba II of Numidia.
I found this book an intriguing and informative read into the life and times of this great ruler.
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Cleopatra the Great: The Woman Behind the Legend
Cleopatra the Great: The Woman Behind the Legend by Joann Fletcher (Paperback - 23 July 2009)
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