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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
22


TOP 100 REVIEWERon 13 January 2012
I've read a few of Adrian Goldsworthy's books, including In the Name of Rome, and The Fall of Carthage, and have a few more on the bookshelves to work my way through. This is the one I grabbed to read next. It's interesting that in the Acknowledgments he mentions Philip Matyszak, several books of whose I have also read - including Mithridates, and Philip II of Macedonia. These two authors (and I am sure Ian Hughes, who is ackowledged, but whom I do not think I have read) make for powerful authorities on the Roman ethos and its surrounds. Mr Goldsworthy is an author who can write ancient history in such a lyrical manner that it reads like an enthralling novel - Tom Holland and Robert Bartlett are other authors who also have this talent. So it is with great anticipation that I curl up with this book on a rainy afternoon.

This is a marvellous tale - and given that it's true, it makes it even more marvellous to read. The author has very skilfully linked two separate biographies (whose lives only intersect in their adulthood) and written in a most clear and concise way about them both. We are treated to the most straightforward and understandable summary of the growth of the Ptolemaic regime in Egypt after the death of Alexander the Great; and to the rot and downfall of the Republic in Rome which led to the upheavals under Marius and Sulla, and the imminent growth of the Empire. From there, we delve more closely into the lives of the main protagonists in the story. And what lives they led! In Rome, Marc Antony led a life of genteel impoverishment after the disgrace and death of his father; in Egypt, Cleopatra led a life in the midst of intrigue and murder - and that was just her own family!

This is a totally brilliant book; the story itself is one worth telling again and again; but the way this book is written puts it above so many others - it zooms along at a rollercoaster pace, the tension building like a well-crafted movie - the peak of action at the Battle of Actium, and the sorry aftermath which resulted. Totally well worth reading, whether you have any preknowledge of the Roman Republic, Octavian, Marc Antony or Cleopatra or not, you will not be able to help but enjoy this wonderful book. If I could give it more than 5 stars, I would.

Marvellous stuff.
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on 10 November 2015
If you want to read a book about Rome, make sure its a Goldsworthy. This book was extremely informative and shattered most of my preconceptions about Mark Antony and Cleopatra (Antony not being a skilled general, Cleopatra's skill as a diplomat) the only downside is that history did not beqeauth Goldsworthy more material as we will never know key aspects of Cleopatra's childhood and personality. Goldsworthy as usual fills in the blanks with pragmatic brilliance.
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on 25 November 2014
Great book - very interesting - read in conjunction with his books Julius Caesar and Augustus
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Great read
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on 14 October 2016
Good
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on 28 May 2016
Well written book on a very interesting couple .
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 November 2012
I enjoyed this account of the lives of Anthony and Cleopatra which describes as far as possible the worlds they knew, their early lives, and eventual meeting leading to the romance which has held our imagination for over 2000 years. Both were powerful, although it was Anthony who held the real power - Cleopatra, who was really Greek, could rule Egypt only with Roman support. Both were ruthless, self serving survivors in a world where compassion was in short supply. But their love appears to have been real - their individually expressed desire to be buried together being the ultimate testament to that mutual devotion.

I am no expert in Roman history, but I learned a great deal from this book, which has given me the motivation to read more - and i will certainly be happy to continue learning with this author as a guide.

Although occasionally confusing, especially where major events are passed over quite quickly, this is enjoyable and informative reading for those interested in history, and in the world as it was so long ago
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on 21 April 2012
I have enjoyed the books of Adrian Goldsworthy that I have already read and this one continues the enjoyment. Perhaps the topic has been over-covered by previous authors and by Hollywood but this book manages to hold your interest with some well thought out different reasons for some of their actions, while also managing to bring in some new areas on Anthony's life.
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on 22 March 2015
good
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on 11 January 2016
very good
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