Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Game of Thrones Withdrawal: Part the Third

ISBN-10: 0316001945
ISBN-13: 9780316001946
Published: Back Bay Books, 09/06/2011
Pages: 432
Language: English
Game of Thrones has often been praised (rightly) for its strong female characters, so I thought it would be appropriate to recommend an excellent myth-shredding biography by Stacy Schiff of a woman who could have out-schemed Cersei Lannister any day of the week: Cleopatra. Schiff paints a portrait of Cleopatra as the consummate survivor: a woman who survived a brutal civil war with her own brother, endless court machinations, massive riots, and the Roman Empire's descent into chaos. Yet today she is mostly remembered through the lens of Roman bad press. Even Shakespeare's (arguably) sympathetic depiction of Cleopatra is swamped in layers of Orientalism that have helped turn a brilliant strategist into an emblem of exotic femininity. It's unsurprising that Schiff's history has been portrayed as feminist, but it's really only feminist to the extent that reality is feminist-- there are no agendas here. In an era of books encouraging women to Lean In, I would suggest reading about a woman who did a little more than lean.


  1. Hank, I love all your Lean In references, even when they're used sarcastically towards me. I want to read this book now, particularly since I have fond memories of a terribly-written book I loved about Cleopatra as a child.

  2. Thanks! I haven't even read Lean In, maybe I should just for the sake of referencing it