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Synopsis: Few people know that Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolr Machiavelli crossed paths when Leonardo worked -- ostensibly as an engineer, possibly as a spy -- in Cesare Borgia's court and Machiavelli was Florence's ambassador there. Soon thereafter, they formed a friendship and an alliance. Astonishingly, during the rich first decade of the sixteenth century, the pair joined together under the inspiration of one of Leonardo's most fantastic dreams: to build a system of canals that would make the Arno River navigable from Florence to the sea. Under Machiavelli's supervision, the Florentine government tried -- and ultimately failed -- to realize a portion of this plan in 1504. The first canal in the scheme had a military purpose, to cut off the water supply of Pisa, Florence's enemy -- but that was only the beginning. Leonardo dreamed of irrigating the Arno valley and controlling its water in order to fill Florence's coffers with tax revenues. He and Machiavelli foresaw the day that Amerigo Vespucci and other explorers would be able to sail from the city center to the sea, to travel over new lands and enrich Florentine merchants. Had the taming of the Arno succeeded, Florence might have become the center of a great world power. Unfortunately, in one of history's most tantalizing might-have-beens, the plans for the Pisa diversion were altered by the engineer in charge, not enough workmen were hired, and the ditches were not dug deeply enough. Not long after a sudden flood destroyed some of the work, the project was abandoned. It was one of a series of failures for Leonardo, who ultimately would depart Florence for Milan, Rome, and France, newly convinced that political power wasessential for an engineer and artist to thrive. For Machiavelli it was another military failure in a roller-coaster political career. If the project had materialized, the Republic might never have been overthrown, and Machiavelli might not have fallen from power and been imprisoned. Roger Masters's account of the friendship between two of history's greatest geniuses starts with this tale of a magnificent lost dream and spirals outward to the art, politics, intrigue, and sexual scandals of Florence. Leonardo's preoccupation with the Arno project explains many of the tantalizing mysteries of his work. It is the reason for the startling bird's-eye view of the valley in the background of the "Mona Lisa; " it is part and parcel of both his obsession, in the "Notebooks, " with understanding the dynamics of water, and his work on canals and swamp drainage in Milan, Rome, and France. As for Machiavelli, were it not for his time spent in prison, he might never have been compelled to write "The Prince. Fortune Is a River" is at once a study of genius and a rich and delightful introduction to the wonders of the Renaissance.
Review: 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.
Title: Fortune is a River: Leonardo Da Vinci and ...
Publisher: Free Press
Publication Date: 1998
Book Condition: Used: Good
Book Description Free Press, 1998. Book Condition: Good. 1 Edition. Ships from the UK. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP74600268
Book Description Simon & Schuster Ltd 15/06/1998, 1998. Book Condition: Good. Will be shipped promptly from UK warehouse. Book is in good condition with no missing pages, no damage or soiling and tight spine. There may be some dog-eared pages showing previous use but overall a great book. Bookseller Inventory # 9053-9780684844527
Book Description Free Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: VERY GOOD. Very Good copy, cover and pages show some wear from reading and storage. Binding may have light creases. Lots of life left in these pages. Bookseller Inventory # 2719705426
Book Description Free Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: GOOD. book was well loved but cared for. Possible ex-library copy with all the usual markings and stickers. Some light textual notes, highlighting and underling. Bookseller Inventory # 2779618627
Book Description Free Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: VERY GOOD. Cover and pages show some wear from reading and storage. May have creases on the cover and binding caused from handling and reading. Some pages may contain writing and or highlighting. Bookseller Inventory # 2790911891
Book Description Free Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: Fair. Bookseller Inventory # G0684844524I5N00
Book Description Free Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. This book has a light amount of wear to the pages, cover and binding. Bookseller Inventory # G0684844524I3N00
Book Description Free Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Book has some visible wear on the binding, cover, pages. Bookseller Inventory # G0684844524I3N00
Book Description Free Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: Fair. Dust Cover Missing. Bookseller Inventory # G0684844524I5N01
Book Description Free Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Book shows a small amount of wear to cover and binding. Some pages show signs of use. Bookseller Inventory # G0684844524I3N00