by Walter Isaacson

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1 positive comments

3 neutral comments

1 negative comments

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What people are saying on Twitter (sample)

  • @bobarmsnovelist @BCDreyer You’ve hit the nail on the head. Dan Brown was too ignorant to know that Da Vinci wasn’t… https://t.co/12vWEkWt51
  • This book Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson is amazing! Shows where mans curiosity can lead man to surreal experiences and living.
  • I read Big debt Crises by Ray Dalio, a bit of Bob Woodward’s ‘fear’ [won’t count it]. Currently reading Leonardo D… https://t.co/NKMZy9mAIF
  • Leonardo da Vinci - Sketch Art and Study Illustrations - 40 Trading Cards Book – Available Now: https://t.co/ijES9MEtmu via @etsy
  • Wisdom is the daughter of experience. Leonardo da Vinci https://t.co/WqTTIEEYXF
  • 7 positive comments

    0 neutral comments

    3 negative comments

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    What people are saying on Amazon (sample)

    • The book is fascinating! The quality of the book is about the worst I have ever seen. There’s virtually no glue binding the pages. I bought this as a gift for my husband. He’s very careful with books but even with gentle reading, this book started to fall apart before he had even gotten through the first several chapters. I just hope it stays together enough so he can finish it.We order a lot from Amazon - I have ne era received anything that was such inferior quality. I hope Amazon will investigate their supplier for books and find a new supplier who will deliver quality commensurate with the price paid. This isn’t worth a buck in its present state. We like to pass along books that we enjoy but I’m afraid this one is destined for the trash/recycling. What a shame. What a waste. :(
    • Although Isaacson's writing style is clear, and the book is exhaustively researched, giving great insight into Da Vinci's life, I cannot give it more than three stars because it is also tediously repetitive. Many of the topics he covers - such as Da Vinci's painting style, his personality (including his inability to finish commissioned works), the way he delved into human anatomy, his insights into the portrayal of movement - all of these and more were described, described again, and then redescribed several times over throughout the book.This is a 500+ page book that, with good editing, could have been cut down to 300 pages without any loss of important material. Yet at the same time, while dwelling on Da Vinci's clear genius as an individual, the book fails to provide any real depth about how Da Vinci's work fit into the society and culture of his era. Isaacson presented some basic material but not nearly enough to clearly connect Da Vinci to the times he lived in.At the end I was left thinking that rather than being a general interest book, this volume would work better as a text for a university-level art history class. The brush-stroke by brush-stroke analysis Isaacson presents in his discussions of Da Vinci's major paintings might be of great interest to students of his art, but as an enthusiastic reader of history and biography, I found such technical deconstruction to be distracting at best and boring at worst.
    • I recall Joshua Cohen’s opening sentence of his novel The Book of Numbers: “If you’re reading this on a screen [redacted!] off. I’ll only talk if I’m gripped with both hands.” Walter Isaacson’s latest book Leonardo da Vinci cries out for that tactile experience. I’ve collected books for twenty years – from the 15th Century to the Present – and this biography is perhaps the most finely crafted, and most beautifully illustrated, book – I’ve seen in many years (The most recent contemporary corollary is Giulio Tononi’s “Phi: A Voyage from the Brain to the Soul”). I’m willing to delay my judgment of the writing quality given that I’ve read the inestimable “Einstein” by the same author. In sum: Buy It, Read It, Enjoy It. This is a rare gift.
    • Walter Isaacson is on a quest. To understand his Leonardo Da Vinci you have to understand something of why he choose to write a biography about him at all, after writing biographies of Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein. Thankfully, Isaacson is explicit about what interests him in these personages and so there is no need for reading between the lines.What Isaacson wants to understand is what makes some men and women people of genius. Not the silly way genius is portrayed in the movie Amadeus, in which it is simply some innate talent, but the character traits which enable rare individuals with the capacity to permanently change the world with the mere power of their mind.With that goal in mind, one is ready to appreciate Isaacson’s Leonardo Da Vinci. The book begins discussing his early achievements in art and the investigation of nature within the first forty pages, fairly quickly for a 525 page tome. And the book is dominated by appreciations of his work, both artistic and scientific (to use a modern distinction unrecognized by Leonardo). Along the way there is a wonderful resonance between Isaacson describing the characteristics of Leonardo that led to his peculiar type of genius and then seeing that genus instantiated in a particular unpublished treatise on anatomy or in a work of art such as the Mona Lisa.If you are interested in this quest, in both seeing what led to Leonardo being a genius, and then seeing that genius expressed in his creative work, you will love Isaacson’s Da Vinci. Many biographers prefer to dwell on a lengthy account of the culture and history of the time and focus on the personal life of their subject. Others choose to try to psychoanalyze their subject and allow the reader to understand the subconscious drives which led to their accomplishments.None of that is to be found in Isaacson’s work. Though a summary doesn’t do the book justice, Isaacson sees Leonardo as unusually perceptive of the world around him, with an insatiable curiosity, a proper understanding of how to balance theory and experiment and a disdain for doctrines handed on by the past. These traits, and others, led him to understand the effect of light in creating the illusion of three dimensions in painting, which muscles are used to smile, how men and women might one day be able to fly and all the many other prescient things expressed in his art and notebooks.If there is anything to criticize, it is that Isaacson is almost universally positive, almost effusively, about Leonardo. But this is because the book focuses mostly on the factors that led to this genius and the actual fruits of his intellect. Admittedly, it is hard to be critical of those aspects of Leonardo’s life.One final point to make to potential readers: Isaacson writes in clear and simple English. Though the book is 525 pages long I read it in less than a day. If he had chosen to adopt the tone of many academics this would have been a far less pleasurable, and longer, read.Isaacson set out to determine both what made Leonardo a genius and why he is considered one. While every reader can form their own opinion as to whether he was successful, I think both the importance of the quest and its achievement in the case of Leonardo will be doubted by few readers of this book.
    • In one sense, this is an incredibly enjoyable biography that sheds light on the varied achievements and adventures of history's most dynamic creative genius.In another sense, it is among the most frustrating books I have ever read.This frustration stems from a telling fact about the book: out of 33 chapters, one is devoted to Da Vinci's personal life. Perhaps I'm in the great minority that opened this book hoping for a vivid portrait of not only the great artist's works, but also his personality. This was certainly my experience with Isaacson's other biographies. In the little details about Ben Franklin's strange hijinks when sharing an Inn room with John Adams, or elderly Einstein helping children with their math homework, one can begin to form an understanding of how such iconic geniuses actually operated in day to day life.But after more than 500 fascinating pages about Leonardo's paintings, journals, and drawings, the man himself remains as mysterious as ever. Perhaps this was no fault of Walter Isaacson's, and there is simply not enough evidence left behind to put together a detailed portrait of Da Vinci's personal life. However, this doesn't seem to be the case, as he occasionally provides tantalizing fragments from letters and journal entries such as:"The Medici made me and ruined me.""Tell me was anything ever done...tell me....tell me."Isaacson gives such fragments just a couple of sentences of consideration. Throughout the book, personal letters are referred to and quoted, but never in much detail or in the context of other clues about Da Vinci's personality. To be clear, I loved learning more about the paintings and journals. They are among the most fascinating documents ever produced by mankind. But in voluminous biographies, especially those of Isaacson, I've come to hope for more than analysis of well-known achievements. I feel as if the cover itself perhaps misled me. After reading this book, I'm well educated on all the grace and beauty of the man's works, but still entirely ignorant about the pattern of his soul.