The Best Books On Cleopatra And Ancient Egypt

The Books I Picked & Why

Cleopatra: A Life

By Stacy Schiff

Cleopatra: A Life

Why this book?

Schiff’s treatment of Cleopatra, showing how she was shaped by her time, and what she dealt with before and during her rule, is exceptional in that it not only steps away from the usual tropes about her, but also gives an expansive glimpse to her world. 

Drawing from scant direct sources of the famous queen but providing context through various sources of the time on other major players, she paints a picture of Cleopatra that is complex, interesting, and leaves one with a much better sense of who she probably was and why she did what she did.


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Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the Bloody Fight for His Empire

By James Romm

Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the Bloody Fight for His Empire

Why this book?

It is this book, about the successors of Alexander the Great, that inspired me to write my first novel, the Atlantis Papyrus. It is a great read—the pages feel less like an academic paper and more like an action novel and keeps one’s interest until the very end. I learned about so many fascinating figures in Alexander’s world I had never really known about and the tumultuous years following his death. In my work, I drew inspiration from some of the characters and events depicted in this book.


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The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt

By Kara Cooney

The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt

Why this book?

Professor Cooney’s work sheds light on what it meant to rule as a woman—it covers the rise and rule of another enigmatic and famous female ruler, Hatshepsut of Egypt. I found it to be an illuminating treatment of the challenges and complexities of female royals, and it influenced some of my thinking on the book on Cleopatra. It is a great book that depicts what ancient Egypt was like—from the ways of life, to the politics, to the exhausting rituals!


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River God, 1

By Wilbur Smith

River God, 1

Why this book?

This was the book that made me fall in love with Ancient Historical Fiction. It painted such a vivid and memorable picture of ancient Egypt, painting a tapestry of love, desire, ambition, and violence, and a must for readers who enjoy a thrilling ride.


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The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen

By A.C. Mace, Howard Carter

The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen

Why this book?

Who has not heard of King Tut? Written by the discoverer of the tomb, the book is a fascinating glimpse into the mind of an accomplished archeologist and a window to the fabulous riches of Egypt. Reading firsthand about what they saw and how things were placed gives us an insight into how things may have been in the last few hours of sealing the tomb. I often use such content to fuel my imagination of what might have happened.


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