Cleopatra: A Life

Forget what you know about Cleopatra - she was neither Egyptian, nor did she commit suicide with a live snake (though it remains a tenaciously romantic symbol) - and discover a much more complicated and interesting person. She was not the beauty as Elizabeth Taylor would make us believe, but was able to charm two of the most powerful men in history, and was lucky enough to bear sons by both. Stacy Schiff argues in this new remarkably readable biography, Cleopatra: A Life, that her death marked the end of an empire, the end of a dynasty and the end of ancient history.

Cleopatra is one of the most famous women in history that we actually know very little about as very little reliable documentation remains. Sex, power, female ambition, enormous wealth, gods, goddesses, civil wars and non-stop cunning and intrigue - what isn't there to like? Fans of ancient history, especially women's role in history should mark this as a must read.