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The #1 New York Times bestseller
“A powerful story of an exhilarating mind and life...a study in creativity: how to define it, how to achieve it.” —The New Yorker
“Vigorous, insightful.” —The Washington Post
“A masterpiece.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Luminous.” —The Daily Beast
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.
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An Amazon Best Book of October 2017: With biographies of Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Steve Jobs under his belt, and a reputation as one of our premiere nonfiction writers, Walter Isaacson is the right person to take on a monumental figure like Leonardo da Vinci. To write this biography Isaacson immersed himself in da Vinci’s 7,200 pages of notebooks, which these days are spread across the map. Da Vinci’s interests were even more divergent, and Isaacson’s empathetic and deeply researched portrait illustrates how he willed himself to genius through endless curiosity and a creativity that sometimes crossed over into fantasy. Much like Isaacson’s previous subjects of Ben Franklin and Steve Jobs, da Vinci was a polymath-- he was passionate about art, science, nature, and technology, and he never stopped questioning, practicing, or experimenting. This is what made him the great innovator and historical figure that we recognize today—and Isaacson points out that this is a particular form of genius that can teach us how to live our own lives. -- Chris Schluep, Amazon Book ReviewAbout 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. Facebook: Walter Isaacson, Twitter: @WalterIsaacson
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