Leonardo da Vinci - Walter Isaacson

Leonardo da Vinci

By Walter Isaacson

  • Release Date: 2017-10-17
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4
4
From 162 Ratings

Description

The #1 New York Times bestseller

“A powerful story of an exhilarating mind and life...a study in creativity: how to define it, how to achieve it.” —The New Yorker

“Vigorous, insightful.” —The Washington Post

“A masterpiece.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Luminous.” —The Daily Beast

He was history’s most creative genius. What secrets can he teach us?

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 skills we can improve in ourselves, such as passionate curiosity, careful observation, and an imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy.

He produced 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 technology. 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.

His creativity, like that of other great innovators, came from having wide-ranging passions. He peeled flesh off the faces of cadavers, drew the muscles that move the lips, and then painted history’s most memorable smile. He explored the math of optics, showed how light rays strike the cornea, and produced illusions of changing perspectives in The Last Supper. Isaacson also describes how Leonardo’s lifelong enthusiasm for staging theatrical productions informed his paintings and inventions.

Leonardo’s delight at combining diverse passions remains the ultimate recipe for creativity. So, too, does his ease at being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical. His life 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.

Reviews

  • Disappointed

    2
    By Emmet Aloysius
    I thought this would be a great book but did not finish. As another reviewer said it reads like a textbook and a tedious one at that. Some of his artwork is fascinating but reading this book is not. I will try his Benjamin Franklin instead. EAF III
  • Missing Pages

    3
    By Josey86
    I’m not even halfway through the book yet, but I am missing at least two pages, one each at the end of two separate chapters. The last page I have of each of these chapters ends in the middle of the sentence, yet the next page is the next chapter. If I had known I wasn’t going to get the whole book I would have bought a hard copy. Hopefully this is fixed soon.
  • The Essence of Joy

    5
    By Therealmemory
    Walter Isaacson has created a gift of joy in his study of Leonardo. The writing is clear and personal, and by the end of the book, one feels a partner in discovery, not only of the life and work of Leonardo, but of the author as well. The pure joy in sharing with the author each facet of Leonardo's genius creates a sense of fulfillment and appreciation rarely experienced from reading a book.
  • Can we all be Leonardos?

    5
    By Jos van Dorresteijn
    Walter Isaacson, who already wrote compelling biographies of great people like Benjamin Franklin, Henry Kissinger, and Steve Jobs, has done it again. In this new book he follows Leonardo da Vinci (who we should actually call ‘de Firenze’; the Florentine, Isaacson tells us) from his birth in Vinci near Florence till his death in Amboise in France. And what a life it has been. Isaacson shows us that Leonardo’s achievements were only partly due to his genius. As a matter of fact, just because Leonardo was such a perfectionist, he failed to finish many of his projects. And many of his ideas never went further than the stage of a conceptual sketch it study in his many notebooks. But the ones that did became some of the greatest works in history. Isaacson not only focuses on Leonardo’s paintings and sketches - many of which are printed in this edition - but also on his inventions and experiments. He shows is that Leonardo truly was one of the first modern men. And he lived in the cradle of the Renaissance, surrounded by many others who rethought, remade, and shaped the world as we know it today. The author finishes with a chapter on what - and how - we can learn from Leonardo. It is a long list, but all items have been tested since and are worth following. Do read this book, it’s worth it. And do not forget the epilogue about the woodpecker’s tongue. It is as intriguing as Leonardo’s life. And yours, if you let it be.
  • Great Audiobook but wheres the PDF?

    3
    By Cmemd
    I love all of this author’s work and this publication is no exception. BUT I cannot figure out how to get the accompanying PDF which is very important for the particular book becuase they keep referring to it. Someone please tell me how to get it!!
  • Great biography!

    5
    By cloudperson
    Great biography
  • The book is a work of genius!

    5
    By usingfromjersey
    The book is an absolute work of genius in writing, style, depth, and scope. Leonardo Da Vinci is one of mankind’s most curious individuals and that curiosity manifested in the culmination of incredible works of both art and science. In fact, this book and the lessons of Leonardo could and probably should be considered required reading for anyone working in, or curious about art and or science. Walter Isaacson has given us a treasure that will surely be read for many years to come, for in this book are the secrets that Leonardo himself uncovered about our world and about ourselves!
  • Good read

    5
    By wgold147
    Another great biography by WI.
  • Incredible book

    5
    By Handakina
    Isaacson is the Master biographer. Another incredible book. Substantial referencing throughout, along with sharing the opinions of other researchers. One can tell that the Author was really captivated by DiVinci “the man” as well as DiVinci “the scientist-artist”.
  • College textbook style

    2
    By Longhorn5555
    Not written from Da Vinci’s perspective... reads like a college art history textbook... very dry... interesting, but dry...