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Fortune is a River: Leonardo Da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli's Magnificent Dream to Change the Course of Florentine History

Masters, Roger D.

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ISBN 10: 0684844524 / ISBN 13: 9780684844527
Published by The Free Press, New York, NY, 1998
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About this Item

Glued binding. Paper over boards. 278 p. Illustrations. Notes. Index. Roger Davis Masters (born June 8, 1933) studied at Harvard (A.B. 1955, served in the U.S. Army (1955-57) and completed his M.A. (1958) and Ph.D. (1961) at the University of Chicago. He has been on the faculty at Dartmouth College (1967 to present) as well as Cultural Attache at the American Embassy in Paris (1969-1971). He is currently the Nelson A. Rockefeller Professor of Government Emeritus and Research Professor in the Department of Government at Dartmouth. Roger Masters has made deep and wide-ranging contributions in social science. Masters began his career in political philosophy at the University of Chicago. His dissertation and subsequent book helped demonstrate the importance of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in modern thought. The role of natural science in early political thought is also addressed in books on Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci. Very good in very good dust jacket. Signed by previous owner. DJ has slight wear and soiling. Bookseller Inventory # 71667

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Fortune is a River: Leonardo Da Vinci and ...

Publisher: The Free Press, New York, NY

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: First edition. First printing [stated].

About this title


Opening a window on Renaissance Florence and two of its geniuses, the author traces the little-known friendship between da Vinci and Machiavelli and their joint effort to fulfill da Vinci's extravagant dream of turning Florence into a seaport. 30,000 first printing.


History is sometimes made by seemingly insignificant moments that turn out to have been pivotal in hindsight--and sometimes what didn't happen proves to be as important as what did. One such moment came in the Florentine court of Cesare Borgia, when a civil servant named Niccolò Machiavelli recruited a local engineer named Leonardo da Vinci to devise a plan to change the course of the Arno River. Diverting that river, Machiavelli reasoned, would deprive Florence's enemy, the nearby city-state of Pisa, of a dependable water supply. It would also make the Arno River navigable for oceangoing vessels from the inland city of Florence, and as an added incentive, would help limit damage caused by the flood-prone Arno to the surrounding farmlands.

Machiavelli and da Vinci devised a hydrological plan for the river that was extraordinarily promising, at least on paper. The flood-prone Arno, however, made the task an impossible challenge. The pair's chances of success were further reduced by poor design, bad timing, and undisciplined workers. Their failure brought official disfavor on Machiavelli and da Vinci alike. Leonardo transferred his studio to Milan and then Rome, where he would produce remarkable work, while Machiavelli retreated from public life for a time and used his forced leisure to write The Prince. Roger Masters crafts an epic tale out of a historical footnote. Although some of his conclusions are speculative in regards to Niccolò's and Leonardo's relationship, readers will likely find his narrative persuasive and deeply informed.

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