Leonardo da Vinci

About the Author

Walter Isaacson, university professor of history at Tulane, has been CEO of the Aspen Institute, chairman of CNN, and editor of Time magazine. He is the author of Leonardo da Vinci, The Innovators, Steve Jobs, Einstein: His Life and Universe, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, and Kissinger: A Biography, and the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made.

Leonardo da Vinci

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Walter Isaacson

Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson's biography weaves a narrative that connects Leonardo's art to his science. Isaacson 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.

 

Though he produced the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa, 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.

 

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 differently.

  • Hardcover
  • 624 pages
  • Published: 2017


Editorial Reviews

“Majestic . . . Isaacson takes on another complex, giant figure and transforms him into someone we can recognize. . . . Totally enthralling, masterful, and passionate.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Illuminating . . . This is a monumental tribute to a titanic figure." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“To read this magnificent biography of Leonardo da Vinci is to take a tour through the life and works of one of the most extraordinary human beings of all time and in the company of the most engaging, informed, and insightful guide imaginable. Walter Isaacson is at once a true scholar and a spellbinding writer. And what a wealth of lessons are to be learned in these pages—about the essential role of curiosity and the ability to observe closely, as just two examples. Bravo Walter Isaacson once again.” —David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Wright Brothers and 1776

“Encompassing in its coverage, robust in its artistic explanations, yet written in a smart, conversational tone, this is both a solid introduction to the man and a sweeping saga of his genius.” —Booklist, starred review

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