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The strength of Joyce Tyldesley's definitive biography of Cleopatra is also the source of its one weakness. In separating out what we can know with some certainty from the myths and legends that have been handed down about one of the most famous women in history, the author winnows out so much that she eventually has to fill out the book with much discourse about the sociology and general history of Egypt. And while that discussion is interesting enough, it does make for a loss of focus. While the book is brief--217 pages--it could really be cut almost in half, to the length of one of those Penguin Lives that have come out in recent years.

That said, Ms Tyldesley's command of the original sources is awesome and her fair-handedness in treating the stories that surround Cleopatra is a model for historians. While she more or less demolishes such notions as Cleopatra being black, rolling out of a carpet the first time she met Caesar, committing suicide by asp, etc., she marshals the facts so relentlessly that it is nigh impossible to quarrel with her conclusions.

Perhaps most importantly, as befits a popular, rather than a scholarly, study, she writes in fluid and straightforward prose. She has a good topic to write about and she tells Cleopatra's story well.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A-)

  

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Biography
Joyce Tyldesley Links:

    -AUTHOR SITE: JoyceTyldesley.co.uk
    -GOOGLE BOOK: Cleopatra : Last Queen of Egypt by Joyce Tyndesley
    -WIKIPEDIA: Joyce Tyldesley
    -FACULTY PAGE: Dr Joyce Tyldesley (BA, DPhil) (University of Manchester)
    -PUBLISHER'S SITE: Joyce Tyldesley (Simon & Schuster)
    -ARCHIVES: Joyce Tyldesley (Bookish)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: with Joyce Tyldesley (Marshall Poe, New Book in Classics)
    -INTERVIEW: The Real Cleopatra with Joyce Tyldesley (BBC manchester, 1/25/08)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: The Age of Cleopatra (Tom Ashbrook, 6/16/10, On Point)
    -INTERVIEW: Cleopatra is a beauty myth : SHE was one of the most famously beautiful women in the world but a new book by a Manchester academic says Cleopatra may not have been beautiful at all. (Helen Tither, 4/20/10, Manchester Evening News)
    -INTERVIEW: Egyptologically Speaking: An Interview with Joyce Tyldesley (Interview by Barbara O’Neill. Published in Magazine Articles on Egyptological. April 3rd 2012)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Tomb readers (Joyce Tyldesley, Financial Times)
    -REVIEW: of Dancing For Hathor: Women in Ancient Egypt by Carolyn Graves-Brown (Joyce Tyldesley, History Today)
    -REVIEW: of American Egyptologist: The Life of James Henry Breasted and the Creation of His Oriental Institute by Jeffrey Abt (Joyce Tyldesley, History Today)
    -REVIEW: of Cleopatra: A Biography (Women in Antiquity) by Duane W. Roller (Joyce Tyldesley, History Today)
    -REVIEW: of Antony and Cleopatra by Adrian Goldsworthy (Joyce Tyldesley, History Today)
    -ARCHIVES: Joyce Tyldesley (History Today)
    -
   
-REVIEW: of Cleopatra : Last Queen of Egypt by Joyce Tyldesley (Mary Beard, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Cleopatra (Paul T. Nicholson, Times Higher Education Supplement)
    -REVIEW: of Cleopatra (Kirkus Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of Cleopatra (Louisa Thomas, Daily Beast)
    -REVIEW: of Cleopatra (Randy Dotinga, CS Monitor)
    -REVIEW: of Cleopatra (Susan Stephens, CommonKnowledge)
    -REVIEW: of Cleopatra (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Cleopatra (Pearl Doherty, Time Out Australia)
    -REVIEW: of Cleopatra (Allen Barra, Minneapolis Star Tribune)
    -REVIEW: of Cleopatra (Herbert White, History in Review)
    -REVIEW: of Cleopatra (Brian D. Johnson, Macleans)
    -REVIEW: of Tutankhamen's Curse by Joyce Tyldesley (Toby Wilkinson, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Tutankhamen by Joyce Tyldesley (John Noble Wilford, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Tutakhamen (John Spurling, New Republic)
    -REVIEW: of Tutankhamen (Pages of Julia)
    -REVIEW: of Tutankhamen (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Tutankhamen's Curse (James McConnachie, Sunday Times of London)
    -REVIEW: of Tutankhamen (Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly)
    -REVIEW: of Tutankhamen (Jean Graham, NJ Star Ledger)
    -REVIEW: of Tutankhamen (John Ray, Financial Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Mummy by Joyce Tldesley (Egyptians)
    -REVIEW: of Nefertiti: Egypt's Sun Queen by Joyce Tyldesley (N.S. Gill, About.com)
    -REVIEW: of Nefertiti (Lawrence Osborne, Lingua Franca)
    -REVIEW: of Daughters of Isis by Joyce Tyldesley (Lucy Hughes-Hallett, The Independent)
    -REVIEW: of HATCHEPSUT : The Female Pharaoh by Joyce Tyldesley (Kirkus Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of Hatchepsut (Captain Maybe)
    -REVIEW: of Hatchepsut (Barton C. Hacker, H-Net)
    -REVIEW: of
   
-REVIEW: of Egypt: How a Lost Civilization Was Rediscovered, by Joyce Tyldesley (Randy L. Shonkwiler, Journal of Near Eastern Studies)
    -REVIEW: of Ramesses by Joyce Tyldesley (Conservative Book Talk)

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