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Publisher's Summary

The author of the acclaimed best sellers Benjamin Franklin, Einstein, and Steve Jobs delivers an engrossing biography of Leonardo da Vinci, the world's most creative genius.

Leonardo da Vinci created 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 engineering. 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.

Now Walter Isaacson brings Leonardo da Vinci to life, showing why we have much to learn from him. His combination of science, art, technology, and imagination remains an enduring recipe for creativity. So, too, was his ease at being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical. His relentless curiosity should remind us of the importance of instilling, in both 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.

©2017 Walter Isaacson (P)2017 Simon & Schuster Audio

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Very good

Good book and good reader. I can do without the affectation of saying “Leonardo” with a fake Italian accent throughout the book. Also, the constant referrals to photos on a pdf is frustrating. Couldn’t Audible make this pdf available online so that listeners can refer to it?

22 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • heather
  • northfield, MN, United States
  • 11-02-17

Remember to download the PDF!

Wonderful book, wonderful narration. The joy Isaacson has for his subject permeates the book. Alfred Molina is a fantastic narrator. The pdf is essential.

34 of 35 people found this review helpful

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Amazing but needs the digital/physical version

I’m not a fan of biographies. I find the very drab. However THIS is perhaps the only one of read/listened too and enjoyed.

Davinci is a fascinating person and his life is great to learn about even through TV documentaries but something about great prose that makes it better.

The way it’s written almost feels like a normal book book. It puts you there and you go along with Davinci and his life.

The only negative about this is that it NEEDS the Digital or physical version a little bit. It mentions often lots of paintings and drawings throughout the book (see figure 1,2 etc.) and kind of breaks the listening experience now and again. You could always just google this image or that image as well.

All in all it’s a good listen. Not sure if I will listen to it again or at least for some time after but that’s just me.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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The audio version is great!

Alfred Molina, the reader, is a reasonably well-known actor (Chocolat, etc). Born in London, his mother was Italian and his father, Spanish. He speaks both languages. So, if you appreciate good pronunciation of Italian words, you won’t be disappointed!

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Isaacson uncovers Leonardo, Molina is great

Isaacson is a master, and does it again, succinctly conveying what made Leonardo such a change force in human history. I have to defend narrator Alfred Molina, as I saw one review that said the listener didn't care for his narration - I found him thoroughly enjoyable and made this an easy listen.
As most of us do, if I don't know the narrator I listen to the sample to see if I can stand the narrator, and will skip the audiobook if I don't care for the narrator. With this book, the audio sample is Isaacson reading the introduction, at least for the first few minutes I listened. It would be better if the sample used was Molina, as we could judge for ourselves. As with art, each narrator is a personal preference.

27 of 28 people found this review helpful

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Mainly for Art Lovers!

My rating is only three stars because 75% of the book is about his art, in excruciating detail. The title Leonardo DaVinci, the man and his art is more fitting.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim
  • San Diego, CA
  • 10-25-17

Warning! Warning! Reader may drive you nuts!

I love Walter Isaacsons work and I liked Alfred Molina as Doc Ock in Spiderman II but for the love of God this is an annoying listen. The book is fine, well researched and fascinating as all of Mr. Isaacsons work is. Much of the reading is fine. Mr. Molina comes from the same part of London as me and has a perfectly fine delivery....until he hits an Italian name....and in this book there are very, very many. Think of that Italian restaurant where the food is great but the waiter with the thick Bronx, Glasgow or Minnesota accent pronounces all the food items in such a fake, over the top Italian accent it totally puts you off the food. This is that. About 20% of the time he pronounces the names as any average native English speaker would….but the rest of the time it’s Spaghhheiiiiitiii Bologgneeeesi to the horizon. At first it’s just mildly irritating…after a few hours you may want to grind your iPhone into the dirt. I know I have quite a few followers out there and I rank fairly well so maybe this review will help…but please be warned. Oh...and listening to the sample won’t help. It’s read by the mellifluous author himself not the actual reader…if it was Mr. Isaacson for the next 17 hours it would be great. After four hours I’m doing something I always never do…I’m returning this book.

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

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Anticipated - but narration boring, uninspired

I was so looking forward to this latest Isaacson-authored biography. But 5+ hours into the narration, I just can't dedicate any further time to it, and I'm not learning enough about the subject that is novel to justify a 17 hour total investment. While the narration is elegantly spoken, I find (for my tastes) that Alfred Molina -- for all his talent -- is a poor fit to the material. I'm certain this opinion will be an outlier for what will surely be collective applause for this highly anticipated title, but its substantially less fulfilling that Isaacson's prior work such as "Steve Jobs" and "Benjamin Franklin". Whether that's the fault of the narration or a combination of the narration and the material (I suspect the latter), I'm not certain. Thanks for reading.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Genius Adrift

Leonardo da Vinci, By: Walter Isaacson, and Narrated by: Alfred Molina. This is more akin to a Great Course, a study of Leonardo's works, rather than story about his inner self. The book tells us what he produced, not why he was moved to make those production. The narrative told here is a listing of what made the man, the serendipity of his life, and how he undertook to play out his gifts. That is not to say this was not a very easy to listen to and informative reading; it was a worthwhile read. The book does not unravel some mysterious being but rather provides analysis of the product of an artist and engineer and one of the most intriguing beings ever to leave traces of himself on the face of this earth.

Perhaps another way of describing the nature of the book is to explain it is the study of one man’s genius, his versatility and his inability to produce product. Yes, that is right. Lack of finished product. This book is about the intellect of Leonardo. It is also the story of his failure to paint more or finish what he started or when it came to his scientific studies document any finding for publication. Rather we are now committed to his notes which he created for his own inquisitive urges. Leonardo was void of the need to provide the fruit of his genius to mankind. He focused only on his own narcissistic enjoyment. Not to progress mankind.

All in all, a really good place to spend your reading time. If you are inquisitive about genius or want to know why this man was a magnificent artist, this work by Isaacson will get you there and get you there in luxury. The reading was perfect.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • JCH
  • Pasadena
  • 11-05-17

You thought you knew all about Leonardo....

You may have thought you knew all about Leonardo, but this book will cause you to reconsider. A wonderful review of the life and times. If you liked the author's bio of Steve Jobs, you'll love this one too. It will make you think about how you relate to your own creativity.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful