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Leonardo da Vinci - Walter Isaacson

Leonardo da Vinci

By Walter Isaacson

  • Release Date: 2017-10-17
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4.5
From 631 Ratings


The #1 New York Times bestseller from Walter Isaacson brings Leonardo da Vinci to life in this exciting new biography that is “a study in creativity: how to define it, how to achieve it…Most important, it is a powerful story of an exhilarating mind and life” (The New Yorker).

Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo da Vinci’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson “deftly reveals an intimate Leonardo” (San Francisco Chronicle) in 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. With a passion that sometimes became obsessive, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy, fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology, and weaponry. He explored the math of optics, showed how light rays strike the cornea, and produced illusions of changing perspectives in The Last Supper. 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.

In the “luminous” (Daily Beast) Leonardo da Vinci, Isaacson describes how 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 to be imaginative and, like talented rebels in any era, to think different. Here, da Vinci “comes to life in all his remarkable brilliance and oddity in Walter Isaacson’s ambitious new biography…a vigorous, insightful portrait” (The Washington Post).


  • Thorough

    By Piano Man95
    A dash dry, yet with such detail- a crisp, lively read would border on impossible. Clear liberal bias, which can be nearly overlooked.
  • PDF?

    By PDFSearcher
    This books refers to a PDF document. Can someone explain to me how can I download such a PDF document? Thank you
  • Pages are missing

    By Conan's Friend
    The end of chapter 22 (and other chapters) are missing pages. The last sentence is incomplete. Can someone please help fix this? The eBook was not cheap. I am pretty disappointed.
  • De Vinci

    By Suzanne Chantell
    Very entertaining book. I read a chapter every day and would share a “fun fact about Leonardo De Vinci” with my family each night at dinner.
  • DaVinci

    By RedThree
    The full color pictures act as an annotated guide to his life and works, all of which are featured with wonderful details. This biography of a Renaissance artist, military engineer and genius is so rich with tidbits from people who knew him and stories that have survived from Giorgio Vasari, one of the first art-historical biographers.
  • I Could Not finish It

    By Jace Nicklien
    I really tried to like this book. I have always been an admirer of Leonardo. Like so many other books, the author jumps arounds. The information in this book is fantastic, but it just seemed to be thrown together. One paragraph it’s about something happening in the 1490’s then something in 1460’s, etc. I simply could not keep track of anything. I want a book to be chronological, otherwise it’s just too confusing. Start at Leonards birth and proceed chronologically through his life - the same way that Leonardo lived it. To be honest, this book ruined my view of Leonardo Da Vinci and I wish I never read it.
  • Greatly wrotten

    By hobbesmartinez
    The author ability to take me thru Leonardo’s life and work was fantastic
  • Leonardo Da Vinici

    By zckobi
    An incredible book that brings to life the genius of Leonardo Da Vinci. You live the moments and experience what his life was about. The book brings his art and his science to life by giving the backstory as to what the political and social environment were like at the times he was most creative.
  • Wish I Could Give It 0 Stars

    By Josey86
    UPDATE Didn’t finish. Will never attempt to finish. This book is nothing more than a Renaissance gossip column, if it can even be called that. Supposedly this book is about Leo’s notebooks, but they get no more attention than anything else. What this book is really about is Isaacson’s obsession with Leo’s sexuality, diet, and looks. If you only know Leonardo da Vinci from this book, you would imagine that somewhere, hidden in his notebooks is Leo’s manifesto on vegetarianism, a declaration of being gay (known as a sodomite and a crime punishable with death in Leo’s time), and probably a few vain passages on how good looking he was. The fact of the matter is that none of that exists. Isaacson has taken the three things we can have no proof of and can only speculate on, and made an entire book about them, mixing in a detailed account of a few pieces of art and a few pages of his notebooks to make the book extra long. If I didn’t know any better, Isaacson has the hots for Leonardo da Vinci. This book is painful and long winded. There are other books on Leonardo that at least give a more balanced view of his life. This book makes it seem like one of the greatest geniuses in history, the man that practically invented the idea of the Renaissance Man, sat around thinking about not eating meat, how good he looked, and having sex with men most of the time. No idea when Isaacson’s Leonardo had time to do anything ingenious (you know, those things we KNOW for sure he did). It would be really awesome if Leonardo da Vinci were an LGBTQ+ hero. Don’t get me wrong. We just can’t know if he was. Let’s just make him a hero for using your brain and accepting everyone as is, the way he seemed to live his life. We need more of that. Then, more amazing people would feel free to come out and the LGBTQ+ community will be rolling in everyday heroes. Just a thought. Missing those pages before didn’t seem to matter much. It was just more of what I’d already read anyway. * * * 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.
  • Love the book

    By J.Cen
    Really liking Walter Isaacson biographies. I have read Steve Jobs,Einstein, Franklin and just finished Da Vinci. Isaacson is really qualified to write books. He has written so many good ones. REALLY loved how many fig. there is. The images scattered around pages instead of a bunch of pictures in the middle. I know Isaacson does this in many books but I really loved how he did it in this one. Great book! 11/10