Leonardo Da Vinci
The author of the acclaimed bestsellers Benjamin Franklin, Einstein, and Steve Jobs delivers an engrossing biography of Leonardo da Vinci, the world’s most creative genius.
Leonardo da Vinci created the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. But in his own mind, he was just as much a man of science and engineering. With a passion that sometimes became obsessive, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy, fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology, and weaponry. His ability to stand at the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences, made iconic by his drawing of Vitruvian Man, made him history’s most creative genius.
Now Walter Isaacson brings Leonardo da Vinci to life, showing why we have much to learn from him. His combination of science, art, technology, and imagination remains an enduring recipe for creativity. So, too, was his ease at being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical. His relentless curiosity should remind us of the importance of instilling, both in ourselves and our children, not just received knowledge but a willingness to question it—to be imaginative and, like talented misfits and rebels in any era, to think different.
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A majestic biography of "history's most creative genius." With many exceptional popular history books under his belt, Isaacson is close to assuming the mantle currently held by David McCullough. Here, Isaacson takes on another complex, giant figure and transforms him into someone we can recognize ... Totally enthralling, masterful, and passionate, this book should garner serious consideration for a variety of book prizes.
Isaacson’s scholarship is impressive — he cites not only primary sources but secondary materials by art critics, essayists, and da Vinci’s other biographers. This is a monumental tribute to a titanic figure.
[A] sumptuous, elegantly written and diligently produced offering that perfectly catches the contradictions of the man.
As always, [Isaacson] writes with a strongly synthesizing intelligence across a tremendous range; the result is a valuable introduction to a complex subject.
The New Yorker
[Leonardo] comes to life in all his remarkable brilliance and oddity in Walter Isaacson’s ambitious new biography… Isaacson’s approach, true to his background, is fundamentally journalistic. No intellectual peacocking for him, and though his writing is certainly graceful, it is never needlessly ornate
The Washington Post
While scholars have been writing about Leonardo for the better part of 500 years, Isaacson's bravura lies — like a sculptor freeing a figure from a block of marble — in taking countless volumes of academic tomes and molding them into a 21st-century page-turner.
The many pleasures within Isaacson’s thick tome include gorgeous illustrations, beautiful and precise writing, surprising glimpses into Leonardo’s thinking and, perhaps most satisfyingly, a stunning survey of the artist’s best-known works.
[An] extremely accomplished and fluent biography of the ultimate Renaissance Man
Joy bubbles forth in this magnificent book. In Isaacson, Leonardo gets the biographer he deserves — an author capable of comprehending his often frenetic, frequently weird quest to understand.The Times
What endures after reading Leonardo da Vinci is just how indifferent to glory the man was. He lived in a world of his private obsessions. He often despaired over his failure to get anything done. (“Tell me if ever I did a thing,” he wrote in his notebooks.) What a gift that he did; what a gift that we know him at all.
The New York Times
[Issacson's] book is intelligently organised, simply written and beautifully illustrated, and it ends with a kind of mental gymnastics programme that suggests how we can learn from Leonardo
More than any other Leonardo book I’ve read, this one helps you see him as a complete human being and understand just how special he was.