Leonardo da Vinci
by Walter Isaacson
Simon & Schuster
Release Date: Oct 17, 2017
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Probably the most anticipated new biographies of 2017 is being released today – Walter Isaacson’s biography “Leonardo da Vinci.” Isaacson, of course, is the author of bestselling biographies of Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs and Henry Kissinger.
Most advance reviews of this biography applaud it vigorously though a few have found it too detailed and lengthy. But whether it will measure up to Isaacson’s previous biographies – some of which are among the most popular biographies of all time – remains to be seen!
Third-party reviews and links:
- The Washington Post review dated Oct 12, 2017 (by Alexander Kafka)
- The Wall Street Journal review dated Oct 13, 2017 (by Daniel Levitin)
- The New Yorker review dated Oct 16, 2017 (issue date) (by Claudia Pierpont)
- SlashGear interview with Walter Isaacson (Einstein vs. da Vinci vs. Jobs)
- Book excerpt via CBS News (Chapter 1: Childhood)
- Kirkus review dated Sept 3, 2017
From the publisher:
“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.”