The British Museum certainly knows how to put a book together. They take an interesting subject have experts in that particular subject write the text, and then illustrate it with glossy photos that pertain, at least in some respect, to the subject of the book. That's what they have done in this history of Egypt and Rome.
It begins, as expected, with the arrival of Caesar in Egypt, and his meeting with Cleopatra. It goes on from there to tell the story of that relationship, the subsequent relationship between Cleopatra and Marc Antony, and closes with the complete takeover of Egypt by the Romans under Augustus. It's a fascinating tale, and it's well told.
Most folks are generally familiar with this story, if only from the overblown epic "Cleopatra" starring Elizabeth Taylor. But the real story is more than that. This book goes into the tale from the Egyptian side, particularly why and how Cleopatra acted as she did.
It becomes clear that Cleopatra's only goal was to have Egypt retain its independence from a greedy Rome seeking food supplies and other types of wealth. If Caesar was helpful she went with him, and the same was true of Antony, All of the historic figures are well fleshed out, and their motives and emotions are well recited.
Everyone knows the tragic end, of course, though there is some mystery about exactly Cleopatra died. Was it the asp, or poison, or perhaps some other method? We'll never know, so the asp story seems to stick, if only for the sheer dramatic impact of it.
This book is geared for the general reader, and flows nicely along. If you are at all interested in this subject, and don't want to trudge through some scholarly (boring) book about it, this one is for you.
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