Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

Leonardo da Vinci

The author of the acclaimed bestsellers Steve Jobs, Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin brings Leonardo da Vinci to life in this exciting new biography.Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson weaves a narrative that connects his art to his science. He shows how Leonardo’s genius was based on...

Title:Leonardo da Vinci
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Edition Language:English

Leonardo da Vinci Reviews

  • Chrissie

    The audiobook is a fantastic production. It is in this manner non-fiction audiobooks should be made. You are given a huge PDF file with 144 pictures, a character list and a timeline.

    ; the audiobook follows the pictures one by one in the order they are presented, each picture being referred to in the text. Each is minutely analyzed and discussed. A listener is given

    stating

    The audiobook is a fantastic production. It is in this manner non-fiction audiobooks should be made. You are given a huge PDF file with 144 pictures, a character list and a timeline.

    ; the audiobook follows the pictures one by one in the order they are presented, each picture being referred to in the text. Each is minutely analyzed and discussed. A listener is given

    stating

    to look and what you will there observe. I did see exactly what I was told I would see, most of the time. You could say that rather than listening you are looking at a flow of pictures while someone is giving you a well thought out guided tour of Leonardo da Vinci’s artworks, his notebooks and models of his imaginative creations.

    and the

    are of course shown. While I have seen both in reality, the first in the Louvre and the second in Milan, I saw them more clearly here in this book! There are pictures of Leonardo’s death-bed with his final patron King Francis supporting him, pictures of Michelangelo’s statues and paintings enabling the listener to make comparisons of the artists’ divergent techniques and pictures of Leonardo’s closest companions.

    You see some pictures up close and others at a distance giving you the most advantageous perspective. The pictures are of high quality and can be magnified, making it possible to focus in on a detail. The notebooks are mirrored; Leonardo being left-handed, wrote from right to left. I actually believe that the audio version may in fact be better than the written book in that you can magnify the pictures and you can listen while you look!

    Alfred Molina reads the audiobook clearly and at an appropriate tempo. I cannot judge the Italian accent, not knowing Italian myself. If Italian names are not your forte, the accompanying PDF list of main characters is very helpful. I found the narration very good and so have given the performance four stars.

    What about the book’s content? Is it balanced, revealing Leonardo’s weaknesses as well as his talents? Are sources referenced? Are opposing views voiced and a convincing resolution to the disputes drawn? Yes, yes and yes.

    . It is not long; it does not go off on lengthy tangents detailing history, state and religious conflicts, description of cities (Florence, Milan and Rome) nor famous people (such as other artists, several of the Medicis, Machiavelli, the Popes of the late 15th and early 16th centuries and of course Savonarola). The information is at times repetitive, this being done most often to emphasize a point. A basic understanding of the history of the early Renaissance will make the book more interesting, but is not a prerequisite.

    First and foremost, the author wants to make clear Leonardo’s ability to see the world as a whole. His knowledge was multidisciplinary. He excelled in not one field but in many – art, engineering, optics, anatomy, architecture, urban planning and more. He drew analogies from one field of thought to another. His curiosity was boundless.

    Did I get to know the man, by that I mean his personality, his sexual proclivities and desires, his dreams and his shortcomings? Yes. Some of his projects failed totally, and often he did not finish what he had begun. One could debate if that is a fault or a strength. Perhaps by putting an artwork or a project aside he could later make improvements. Think the

    and his calculations concerning the comparative areas of a circle and a rectangle. His penchant for list-making is both wonderful and humorous. What shines out most is his curiosity, his imagination, his ability to observe,

    things you and I do not even notice, things right there before our eyes but to which we are blind. Have you looked at the speed of birds’ wings on the up versus the down swing? Or how water swirls or how what we see up close differs from what we see at a distance or from the side. From observations, he then devised experiments. He saw patterns and drew analogies linking disparate fields of science. To say he was ahead of his time is an understatement.

    The book moves forward chronologically. Not much is known about his earliest years.

    The book begins with an introduction and ends with a conclusion, both of which in the audiobook are read by the author. His admiration for Leonardo is evident, but he remains clear-eyed too. The conclusion summarizes what we can learn from Leonardo’s life. What can he teach us? What can we do to make our own lives fuller and better? It’s a good conclusion, albeit a bit preachy.

    In the same vein, I will finish with these guidelines:

    *Be curious.

    *Open your eyes. Observe all that around you.

    *Appreciate nature.

    *Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

    *Making to-do lists is good.

    These are not my guidelines but his. I like them.

  • Matt

    “ How might you describe the tongue of a woodpecker?” And so it begins, in my ongoing attempt to learn more about important figures in history. This time, I turned to the latest biography by Walter Isaacson, exploring the life of Leonardo da Vinci. A man of many talents, da Vinci lived a full and exciting life as he sought to scratch the many itches that came to mind and paved the way for scores of significant discoveries. Isaacson offers a thorough and highly informative piece that will educate

    “ How might you describe the tongue of a woodpecker?” And so it begins, in my ongoing attempt to learn more about important figures in history. This time, I turned to the latest biography by Walter Isaacson, exploring the life of Leonardo da Vinci. A man of many talents, da Vinci lived a full and exciting life as he sought to scratch the many itches that came to mind and paved the way for scores of significant discoveries. Isaacson offers a thorough and highly informative piece that will educate the reader without inflating the narrative with scores of minute facts. Isaacson presents da Vinci in three distinct lights throughout this piece: the animated artist, the inquisitive inventor, and the abstract anatomist, all of which are interconnected and help to better understand the man whose name is synonymous with so many things. Supported by an extensive collection of drawings, referenced throughout, Isaacson brings Leonardo da Vinci to life with this exceptional biography. Perfect for the curious mind and those who want a better understanding of art, history and symbolism without the dramatic scandal of a certain Robert Langdon.

    Leonardo da Vinci was surely one of the most animated artists of his time, if not in history. Born a left-handed bastard during the golden days of those who were conceived out of wedlock, da Vinci found his early years to be ones of independent exploration. His father refused to legitimate him, nor did he push to have the young Leonardo follow in his footsteps as a notary, which left the young da Vinci to turn to one of the other important positions of the time, an apprenticeship with a local artist. Florence was a rich locale for art and da Vinci learned his trade from many who sought to teach him how to capture the human form. However, as Isaacson denotes throughout, da Vinci chose not to capture the ‘wooden’ nature of artists at the time and sought to forge his own path by injecting curves and softer depictions of canvas creations. As he grew older, da Vinci tried to instil those beliefs in his own apprentices, with a strong focus on detail and nuance to bring the portraits to life, without falling back on a ‘sack of walnuts’ when presenting images on canvas. Isaacson references something that da Vinci wrote in one of his journals, where the master artist is said to have expressed that painting is both artistic and scientific in nature, with shading and colours that helps capture the subject from all angles. Given some key backgrounds on a number of da Vinci’s key pieces of art, Isaacson provides the reader with something that will open the mind and lead to a number of questions. Biblical references and symbols fill many of da Vinci’s works, which cannot be lost on the attentive reader, though this is more than the controversial ideas Dan Brown offers in a piece of fiction. The eager reader will be happy to see that Isaacson spent an entire chapter analysing and positing the foundations of the famed Mona Lisa, as well as speaking to its intricate detail, which combines all three personas from the biography. It is clear that da Vinci’s art is both full of detail and animated in its own right, which provides the viewer a chance to thoroughly interpret it when taking the time to absorb his vast collections found all over the world. Surely the man’s art is innovative and worthy of deep exploration, without getting stuck on too many stuffy aspects.

    The inquisitive nurture of da Vinci’s art work can easily be duplicated in his numerous inventions, as documented in his journals. At a time when the Renaissance was in full swing, da Vinci began to have many ideas about how he might be able to help with the new forms of artistic expression. Isaacson discusses da Vinci’s desire to help personalise some of the religious stage plays of the day, where angels had to fly from one end to the other, at a time when man and earth were sorrowfully bound together. The idea of flight and pulleys came to da Vinci, as he crafted these theoretical mechanisms. Hundreds of years ahead of his time, da Vinci had many ideas that would, at one time, find their way into the mainstream. Isaacson argues that da Vinci’s inventions could sometimes be practical means of filling a gap in what was on the market, but there were also strong influences (particularly anatomy) that left da Vinci full of questions, only to be solved by the development of some inventions to better understand concepts that were unknown to the scientific world. The reader will marvel at the extent to da Vinci’s innovative spirit, pushing the boundaries of what might be possible, all to help fill the void of his inquisitive nature. Not all of his inventions were meant to aid in artistic expression. There is surely a strong influence on the political happenings of the day—da Vinci had relationships with both the Borgia and Sforza families, vicious as they were—whereby war machines were devised. There is talk of tank-like structures and catapults to launch objects over palace walls, both ideas that would have been fostered by the bloody campaigns those two aforementioned families sought in their respective domains. The collection of drawings included in the biography permit the reader to marvel at the vast array of sketches and how da Vinci could have made a greater name for himself (as if he needed more notoriety). It is readily apparent that da Vinci’s innovative spirit was fuelled by a need to better understand the world around him, just as his art sought to open new means of expression at the dawn of the Renaissance. Well before his inventions could be formally created, da Vinci showed how his inquisitive nature was influenced by his thirst for knowledge, especially when he was parched and left to wonder about the inner workings of the human machine, the body!

    Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects that recurs throughout the biography is da Vinci’s love of all things anatomical. From the veins in the hands to the inner workings of a foetus and the valves of the heart, da Vinci was keen to dissect bodies to better understand the inner workings of various organs and systems. During a time when the Church was still wavering on the dissection of humans, da Vinci sought to open his horizons by exploring the inner workings of various animals, when human cadavers were not available. The desire to better comprehend the human body fuelled da Vinci’s desire to posit about the workings of organs and systems, at a time when nothing could be done ‘live’ or with the body still functioning. Isaacson explores da Vinci’s desire to better understand heart valves and the movement of blood, simply because he could not wrap his head around what might be going on. While he could devise a few experiments and reconstructed the heart, it was only in the 1960s that much of what da Vinci predicted could be proven entirely correct. Not only did da Vinci seek to explore the anatomy of the human body, he felt it essential to depict it in sketches from all angles. Without the ability to properly store the cadavers, da Vinci had only a short time to properly sketch the anatomical subjects. Some of these anatomy explorations surely led to inventions that made their way into da Vinci’s journals and also permitted some of the intricate detail found in numerous pieces of art, namely one of his most popular, the Vitruvian Man, where da Vinci showed extensive understanding of length proportions of the ‘perfect’ subject. Isaacson explores this in detail during part of the biography and may be of significant interest to the reader. Surely his biological curiosities made da Vinci’s creations better and provided the viewer with a better understanding of the realism the artist sought in his work. It is baffling not to look at all three aspects of Leonardo da Vinci now that I have taken the time to explore them, and see just how imbued his art and innovations were with all three perspectives.

    I would be remiss if I did not discuss the presentation of the biography and place Isaacson under the literary microscope. The thorough presentation of Leonardo da Vinci’s life helped create a better understanding of the man and his numerous endeavours. I will admit that I am not a major fan of art, nor do I pretend to understand the intricacies of paintings (gasp or toss the odd rotten tomato now). That being said, after reading this and viewing the countless images that Isaacson included in the book, I have a better understanding of the nuances that certain artists use, as well as the symbolism inherent for the viewer to better communicate with the artist. Isaacson takes the time to explain many of da Vinci’s influences, as well as fleshing out some of the symbols that da Vinci uses in his work. Referencing not only da Vinci’s work, but also scholarly references and fellow biographers, Isaacson provides a thorough narrative for the reader to better understand the man and some of his thinking. Adding the images to the book permits the reader to see, first hand, some of the sketches that da Vinci created at different times in his life, even if it creates an Olympic event to toggle between text and image (only made more difficult for those who used the audio version, such as myself). When referencing his various creations, having a visual compendium helps the reader to match something up with the narrative and brings the story to life in a new dimension. This enriches the experience and permits the reader to feel an active part of the process as the layers of da Vinci’s life become more apparent to the attentive reader. While some chapters are long, they ought not be daunting, as the narrative flows so well and the storytelling is second to none. Isaacson has spent as much time here as he did with some of his other key biographical pieces, all of which should be considered by the reader whose curiosity is not sated with this piece. And... as for that woodpecker question I posed to start this review, there’s a nugget of interest that da Vinci never fully explored, but Isaacson offers up.

    Kudos, Mr. Isaacson, for helping pave the way towards a better understanding of this key historical figure. You bring Leonardo da Vinci to life and help the reader want to know more, which is essential in a biographical piece.

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  • Netta

    Unlike many readers of this book who were well acquainted with Walter Isaacson and loved his previous works, I picked this biography being quite sceptical and absolutely unaware of how Isaacson approaches his subjects. His bibliography looks like a very impressive collection of genii of all sorts - Jobs, Einstein, Kissinger and Franklin. Surely, adding Leonardo da Vinci to this list must be tempting, but this task, if you ask me, was too difficult for Isaacson to handle.

    Apparently, Isaacson can

    Unlike many readers of this book who were well acquainted with Walter Isaacson and loved his previous works, I picked this biography being quite sceptical and absolutely unaware of how Isaacson approaches his subjects. His bibliography looks like a very impressive collection of genii of all sorts - Jobs, Einstein, Kissinger and Franklin. Surely, adding Leonardo da Vinci to this list must be tempting, but this task, if you ask me, was too difficult for Isaacson to handle.

    Apparently, Isaacson cannot be blamed for the lack of research as he constantly quotes Martin Kemp, Kenneth Clark, Carmen Bambach, Luke Syson, Vasari, early Leonardo biographers and many others (look at the

    section of this book and you’d be impressed), and often refers to the facts that cannot be easily found on Wikipedia (they can be easily found in better written books on Leonardo and his art, but never mind). And yet it’s not enough to tell the story of an artist, inventor, engineer and a

    . Actually, the question arose while I was reading this book, if telling the story of Leonardo was Isaacson’s original intention at all or what he did want to do was to write a self-help book, dissecting Leonardo’s genius and mercilessly dragging him into the 21st century (the thing that Kenneth Clark thought should be avoided by all means). In the description of this book another question is posed: “What secrets can he [Leonardo] teach us?”, and Isaacson did his utmost to answer it. He devotes the whole chapter to summarizing what we can learn from Leonardo, including being curious, retaining

    , observing, getting distracted, respecting facts etc. However, do we indeed have to learn from Leonardo, taking into account that the book is not called “Learning from Leonardo. Mastering your inner genius”?

    It is also palpable that Walter Isaacson is neither art critic nor art historian. And yet he burdened himself with creating descriptions of Leonardo’s works which very soon became dull, being mostly constructed out of repeated adjectives, and the analysis of Leonardo’s technics which very soon became dull too, as it never goes farther than constantly mentioning sfumato, soft contours and tones. Describing the painting Isaacson looks like someone who’s reciting something he does not fully understand and thus cannot explain. And I cannot but mention that the Benois Madonna is exhibited in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. not Moscow as Isaacson states. The chapters devoted to Leonardo’s inventions, however, make up for it as Isaacson seem to be more enthusiastic about them or, maybe, this area is more familiar to him (and less familiar to me).

    The other thing which makes this book a mess sometimes is its poor structure. Chapters on some life milestones, art, study and what Isaacson calls

    are mixed, making concentration on the subject of each chapter rather difficult. The fact that Isaacson wants to put everything into the context of the era does not help at all. He creates quite a few characters around Leonardo - all of them vivid and to some extent appealing, but so irritably far away from reality. They look like they stepped into this biography from some fiction book where they were sketched by the author in order to move plot forward.

    What has to be admired though is Isaacson’s approach to Leonardo’s personal life. Unlike many other biographers who try to manipulate the facts (hello, Mr Nicholl, I’m talking about you), Isaacson treats Leonardo with due respect and does not make any attempt to own his subject. This is, probably, the very first book where the fact that Leonardo was an illegitimate child is presented as Leonardo’s luck, not as a childhood trauma, because it allowed him to be a painter (and whoever he wanted to be), not his father’s heir burdened with many duties he had no chance to fulfil properly. And yet Isaacson tends to oversimplify some relationship in Leonardo’s life and some of his intentions, apparently trying to mimic his subject and create soft contours and biographic sfumato.

    If quickly grasping some general information about Leonardo and forming major opinion of the nature of his genius (and what you can learn from him) is all that you want, Walter Isaacson’s book is almost perfect (or at least very promising). It explores every side of Leonardo’s genius and sums up quite a bit of research, but lacks admiration for the person and has subtle undertones of self-help book which, I suppose, can be excused.

  • Janet

    Thank you, Net Galley for the opportunity to review this book --- as people who follow me know, I do not regurgitate what the book is about as that is what the description from the author and publisher at the top of the page are for.

    This book is very well written.

    This book is very long

    This book has many interesting facts ... his paintings are mathematical and he was gay.

    Did I mention that this book is very long???

    This book is full of insane details...pages and pages and pages of insane details.

    Thank you, Net Galley for the opportunity to review this book --- as people who follow me know, I do not regurgitate what the book is about as that is what the description from the author and publisher at the top of the page are for.

    This book is very well written.

    This book is very long

    This book has many interesting facts ... his paintings are mathematical and he was gay.

    Did I mention that this book is very long???

    This book is full of insane details...pages and pages and pages of insane details.

    This book is very long.

    At times I felt like screaming TMI!

    Did I mention that this book is EXTREMELY long???

    I think back to Bill Clinton's memoir "My Life" where I just felt like screaming GET TO THE POINT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Because ... this book is wowza long.

    I just could not finish it ... it was just not up my alley -- it gets 3 stars for being excellent --- if it was readable it would have gotten 4 but ... This book is very long.

  • Lou

    There is plenty to learn here about Leonardo DaVinci, and his art, its histories unravelled, codexes explained in ways, and the story of the process and people in the art work.

    Detail, details meticulously written by the author, almost with obsession like mastery and a hugely accessible reading.

    Mysteries of the man, the artist, scientist and engineer and the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and The Mona Lisa expounded in a glorious work of profound inspiration.

    A multitude of

    There is plenty to learn here about Leonardo DaVinci, and his art, its histories unravelled, codexes explained in ways, and the story of the process and people in the art work.

    Detail, details meticulously written by the author, almost with obsession like mastery and a hugely accessible reading.

    Mysteries of the man, the artist, scientist and engineer and the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and The Mona Lisa expounded in a glorious work of profound inspiration.

    A multitude of notebooks he had written, Leonardo, so much writings, inspirations, a beast against the artist block and creativity resistance.

     

    7200 pages of notes and scribbles

    last supper

    mona lisa

    vitruvius man

    saint jerome in the wilderness

    renaissance man

    innovation

    imagination

    combining observation with fantasy

    will

    ambition

    fevered

    manic

    lefthanded

    born Tuscan village of Vinci

    illegitimate

    gay

    vegetarian

    genius

    science

    engineering

    arts

    technology

    anatomy

    fossils

    birds

    horses

    the heart

    flying machines

    optics

    botany

    geology

    water flows

    weaponry

    work with Borgia and Machiavelli

    Review with video interview @

  • Jeffrey Keeten

    This paragraph made my blood run cold, not because I thought about how different the world would have been if Leonardo da Vinci had not been Leonardo da Vinci (tragic for sure), but because it made me wonder how many potential geniuses we are drugging into “normalcy.” Are some of the great artists and innovators of the 21st century hidden beneath the layers of a cornucopia of drugs?

    I remember, as a child, reading a biography of Leonardo da Vinci. I thought that he had the coolest name I’d ever heard. My name seemed so pedestrian in comparison. I was even more struck by the term that still best defines him…

    . I wanted to be a Renaissance man. Unfortunately, I have fallen woefully short of that title, but the eclectic books I choose to read still show that that original desire to be a well rounded person is alive and well. In an age of specialisation, I find myself to be an outlier. I am asked so many times a year...how do you know that?

    <

    Whenever I read anything about Leonardo or gaze upon his paintings/drawings, I feel that same pang felt by Antonio Salieri whenever he would read that latest music composed by Mozart. I am awed by

    and

    , but I am enamored with

    , the portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, mistress of the Duke Ludovico of Milan. Ludovico commissioned the painting after Cecilia gave him a son. There are so many things about this painting that arrest my attention. The alert, coiled energy of the ermine, looking as if it will jump out of the frame of the picture into my arms any second. The slight upward tilt of her lips, implying the hint of a smile. The enormous limpid eyes. The long elegant fingers that would have been a gift to a concert pianist. I can imagine the Duke coming to see her and just sitting in her rooms and watch her do...anything.

    While in Milan, Leonardo was also working on the famous bronze horse that was going to be three times bigger than any sculpture existing at the time. Unfortunately, this is one of the many great pieces of art by Da Vinci that was never finished, but in this case war was at fault. The bronze for his horse was used to make cannons, to no avail. The French take Milan, and troops used the clay model he had made, a masterpiece in itself, for target practice. Da Vinci left many unfinished paintings in his wake:

    and

    , just to name a few. Despite being unfinished, these paintings rocked the art world, and students flocked to see them.

    We have about 7,200 pages of Da Vinci’s notebooks, about a quarter of what he wrote. These notebooks are filled with sketches of inventions, few realized and most centuries ahead of their time, scribbles of ideas, doodles, and detailed drawings of his research into anatomy. Walter Isaacson absolutely loaded this volume with plates of Leonardo’s artwork, but also of pages of his notebooks. One, in particular, was very moving. I know I’ve seen this very image before, but life creates changes in all of us; something seen at 20 may not have near the impact on the same person who sees it at 50.

    There is something just so fragile, so human, so perfect about it that I felt overcome by the beauty of...us.

    He worked for a variety of powerful, diverse men, from Ludovico Sforza to Cesare Borgia to Francis the 1st of France. Leonardo was a sensitive man, but also had a very astute interest in war. He offered many times in his life to make machines of war for various patrons.

    So vivid, without him even picking up a brush, we know this mural would have been unsettling and would not at all idealize the splendors or nobility of war. It might have even given a psychopath like Cesare Borgia pause.

    I’ve read other books by Isaacson so I knew that the genius of Leonardo da Vinci was safe in the hands of the writer who has specialized in writing about some of the greatest minds in history. Da Vinci comes vividly to life in this biography and the magnificent plates scattered throughout the text of his life’s work. This is a beautiful, heavy book, printed on high grade paper, and will make the perfect gift for those of infinite curiosity.

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  • Michael Finocchiaro

    Honestly, I preferred Serge Bramly's 1991 Da Vinci biography to this one by Isaacson. I read (and reviewed here on GR) his biographies of Einstein and Ben Franklin, and found them both really good. In the present work, the author is way too present in my opinion and pitches his Steve Jobs biography on nearly every other page. OK, I am exaggerating but only a little bit. Did I learn some stuff about my favorite Renaissance Man? Yes, I did and I did appreciate the insight into the major works and

    Honestly, I preferred Serge Bramly's 1991 Da Vinci biography to this one by Isaacson. I read (and reviewed here on GR) his biographies of Einstein and Ben Franklin, and found them both really good. In the present work, the author is way too present in my opinion and pitches his Steve Jobs biography on nearly every other page. OK, I am exaggerating but only a little bit. Did I learn some stuff about my favorite Renaissance Man? Yes, I did and I did appreciate the insight into the major works and the theories about some of the lost or disputed ones as well. However, I felt the presence of Isaacson more than that of Da Vinci and would have preferred the latter over the former.

  • Gary

    Walter is a storyteller....If you have read his other bios, you already know this. Same situation here...but I must warn you....Leonardo was a very complicated man....a genius in his art....kept copious notes about everything he thought, felt, and dreamed about....he was a scientist,way ahead of his time,and he used science in his art, and mathematics in his paintings. Walter included all the vast details, because that's the type of person Leonardo was.....and while reading this book his paintin

    Walter is a storyteller....If you have read his other bios, you already know this. Same situation here...but I must warn you....Leonardo was a very complicated man....a genius in his art....kept copious notes about everything he thought, felt, and dreamed about....he was a scientist,way ahead of his time,and he used science in his art, and mathematics in his paintings. Walter included all the vast details, because that's the type of person Leonardo was.....and while reading this book his painting fetched a $450 million dollar price, a record in the art world..... I can't recommend this book enough...but before you delve into it,and scream how boring it is, and how it's just too detailed for you....... Skip it, because you really don't have the interest or fascination for this genius......just sayin.

    I LOVED it all.... I LOVED HEARING everything about this important man in the arts,sciences,and mathematics world. Truly an amazing individual.

    If you think you are ready to read about this vastly complicated, and eccentrically interesting man....enjoy! It's quite a ride!!

  • Melody Sams

    If you like a little psychology with your history, this is a book for you! It gives you a wonderful insight into the mind of one of the most fascinating men in human history. Da Vinci was quite the character. A bit enigmatic and mercurial. It was a delight learning more about his personality through this book.

  • Darwin8u

    ― Walter Isaacson, Leonardo da Vinci

    This was an interesting biography, and an interesting approach, but it just wasn't great. Isaacson is one of those former editors of large, popular news magazines who can seemingly throw out a biography every couple years. He loves writing about transformative geniuses and polymaths, thus his books on:

    ― Walter Isaacson, Leonardo da Vinci

    This was an interesting biography, and an interesting approach, but it just wasn't great. Isaacson is one of those former editors of large, popular news magazines who can seemingly throw out a biography every couple years. He loves writing about transformative geniuses and polymaths, thus his books on:

    ,

    ,

    , and

    [?].

    Obviously, from any perspective, Leonardo da Vinci (the first among Renaissance Men) belongs on this list. I even liked Isaacson's approach of using Leonardo's notebooks as the backbone of this book. Or at least that was how Isaacson presented this book. Isaacson, however, kept drifting back to a soft narrative storytelling that comes naturally to him. It made the book, however, a bit uneven and choppy. The notebooks, with their art, doodles, ramblings, and jumps, are hard to translate into a Costco-selling bestseller.

    To be fair to Isaacson, I did just finish, last year, Caro's four (so far) volume series on LBJ. So, it is unlikely ANY biographer would get more than 4-stars after Caro. But still, I was hoping for a bit more from Isaacson.

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