In this remarkable dual biography of the two great lovers of the ancient world, Goldsworthy goes beyond myth and romance to create a nuanced and historically acute portrayal of his subjects, set against the political backdrop of their time. A history of lives lived intensely at a time when the world was changing profoundly, the book takes readers on a journey that crosses cultures and boundaries from ancient Greece and ancient Egypt to the Roman Empire.
Drawing on his prodigious knowledge of the ancient world and his keen sense of the period's military and political history, Goldsworthy creates a singular portrait of the iconic lovers. "Antony and Cleopatra were first and foremost political animals," explains Goldsworthy, who places politics and ideology at the heart of their storied romance. Undertaking a close analysis of ancient sources and archaeological evidence, Goldsworthy bridges the gaps of current scholarship and dispels misconceptions that have entered the popular consciousness. He explains why Cleopatra was consistently portrayed by Hollywood as an Egyptian, even though she was really Greek, and argues that Antony had far less military experience than anyone would suspect from reading Shakespeare and other literature. Goldsworthy makes an important case for understanding Antony as a powerful Roman senator and political force in his own right.
Wellington has finally driven Napoleon's armies from Portugal, but the cost has been high. Fearing a French counter-attack, the British must rally their tired men and go on the offensive.
Lieutenant Hamish Williams of the 106th Foot relishes the call to action. Spurred on by the prospect of at last redeeming himself in the eyes of Jane McAndrews, he hopes for a battlefield promotion.
But Williams is marching into the bloodiest battle of the war - Albuera. As entire regiments are destroyed in the desperate pursuit of victory, the fate of Williams and his comrades hangs in the balance . . .
The year is 1809, and the recruiting sergeants are hard at work, as the British army gathers strength for the next phase of the campaign against Bonaparte on the Spanish Peninsula. Captain Billy Pringle of the 106th Foot, however, has a somewhat more urgent reason to leave the country: having become embroiled in an ill-advised duel with a lieutenant in the 14th Light Dragoons, a posting to Spain would avoid any awkwardness for the regiment.
Along with his friend Lieutenant Williams - whose sister Kitty was the cause of the duel - and the doughty veteran Sergeant Dobson, Pringle takes on the task of training Spanish troops to stand alongside their British allies. But what seems at first like easy duty soon turns into a desperate fight for survival as they find themselves besieged in the strategic fortress of Cuidad Rodrigo.
For Bonaparte, taking the fortress will be the first step towards pushing the British back to the sea, and the task is entrusted to one of his most daring and successful generals, Marshal Ney. And Ney in his turn has found the perfect officer to lead the assault, a man not only desperate for advancement but also thirsting for revenge - a man whom Williams knows only too well.