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Leonardo da Vinci : The First Scientist

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  413 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
This book is both a revelatory biography and an accessible study of Leonardo's life and multi-faceted work as a scientist and engineer. It covers all aspects of the man's life but is also a re-interpretation of the voluminous evidence to paint an original picture of Leonardo da Vinci not only as the archetypal polymath, but as the first true scientist. Topics include: * A ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published January 4th 2001 by Abacus (first published 2000)
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Apr 10, 2011 Michael rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction, audiobook
First, the author claims there are plenty of books about Leonardo as an artist and engineer, but he will write about Leonardo as a scientist. But he talks little about that, and not at all in the first half of the book.

Then there is the narrator who uses hokey, cartonish accents for every quote. Not worth the time.
Ivor Mason
Mar 16, 2016 Ivor Mason rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, science, art
I wanted an introduction to the life and the scope of interests of da Vinci; probably the quintessential polymath. This did not disappoint. Luckily, the title is somewhat misleading as the book covers not just his contribution to science but also to art and how each influenced the other. It is well-accepted that much of the work that da Vinci produced, perhaps as much as a third, is lost but despite this, the book overlies biographical material with the work being produced at the time. It is onl ...more
Sep 16, 2013 Cara rated it really liked it
This is an interesting biography of Leonardo Da Vinci, who was an interesting person, but not really a scientist. That's ok - not all interesting people have to be scientists. The author tries, very faintly, to argue that Leonardo was "the First Scientist", but I don't think even he believes this. It's like he wanted to write a plain biography but thought it wouldn't sell if he didn't put an angle on it. As a plain biography, it's pretty good. But I don't buy the science angle.

By the way, I list
Jun 25, 2014 Olethros rated it liked it
-Pocos nombres están asociados a un periódico histórico con la fuerza que lo están Leonardo y el Renacimiento -.

Género. Biografía.

Lo que nos cuenta. Retrato de la vida y obra de Leonardo Da Vinci que sin ignorar otras de sus muchas facetas, incluyendo la más personal, nos quiere acercar al personaje desde el punto de vista de su trabajo más científico.

¿Quiere saber más del libro, sin spoilers? Visite:
Josephus Brautigan
Hmmmmm. I'm a bit conflicted about this one because I really enjoyed it but at the same time it's clearly not an objective biography. I believe the subtitle is misleading because there's not a very strong case presented here for Leonardo actually being "the first scientist". It reads more like a biography by an admirer (at the beginning the author claims Da Vinci was his childhood hero), not by an academic who has researched and dedicated a professional life to the subject. All in all, I really ...more
Nov 22, 2010 Dumitru rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting piece of work. Here are not only described Leonardo's life and inventions, achievements and so on, but the world he lived in was pictured as well. And judge a man not knowing when and how he lived.

Finding a lot of new things about Leonardo, not that I knew much before, I got to understand the world he used to live in. As a bastard, he was never given a proper education, but maybe that was his point of start and his motivation, in the begining at least. The book encomprises his sta
Jun 05, 2013 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed by this book. The title led me to expect a concentrated focus on Leonardo and his scientific investigations. Instead, I found a straightforward biography of Leonardo, portrayed with plenty of context about his times, family, patrons, and the politics of the age, ending with a short discussion of the scientific nature of his study of anatomy and bird flight. It comes across as a well-researched popular biography founded in a thorough review of the scholarship, so worth reading ...more
Ionut M.
Nov 20, 2015 Ionut M. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Leonardo a fost fără îndoială un fenomen aparte, un om descris drept un "geniu capricios", iar de către unul dintre biografii sai "anormal". El a fost însa foarte uman și și-a trăit viata dorind sa rămână în legătură cu natura, sa trăiască după convingerile lui intelectuale potrivit cărora, în calitate de ființa umană, nu era decât un simplu element într-un ansamblu mai larg al lucrurilor.
Dec 30, 2014 Peter rated it liked it
I enjoyed this biography of Leonardo, which is quite straight-forward in many ways but accessible and well written. The 'first scientist' angle is a bit of a reach, which is not argued convincingly in my opinion. But that aside, it was a good introduction into his life and times. I would like to follow this on with something more detailed about his paintings and his lifestyle.
Sep 01, 2014 Tim rated it really liked it
Fun read for a general introduction to Leonardo's life. However, the title suggests a thesis that's not really explored much let alone proved.
Aug 04, 2015 Edoardo rated it really liked it
Fantastic book on an remarkable man. Well researched, easy to read and focused upon his scientific achievements.
Mar 29, 2016 Lee rated it really liked it
Clear and fascinating, and White makes a compelling case for considering Da Vinci to be 'the first scientist'
Jill Porter
Apr 26, 2015 Jill Porter rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
This man could do anything! I would love to have met him. The book is great!
Sep 06, 2009 Gail rated it really liked it
I read this book the summer of 2007 when I had the great chance to spend a lot of time on a Tuscan beach at Bibbona, Italy. I read both The Agony and the Ecstasy and Leonardo, The First Scientist. It was a great comparison of the lives of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. While they did not live at exactly the same time, they were more competitors in many ways. Leonardo: The First Scientist is not a historical novel - it is a well researched chronology of Leonardo's life and contributions. It ...more
Jul 30, 2013 Michael rated it it was ok
Shelves: biographies
This book did, as hoped, help me learn about the life of Leonardo da Vinci. Unfortunately, only about half the book was information about his life life while the other half was conclusions about the man drawn by the author. Far too much time was spent analyzing Da Vinci's psyche and motivations for my taste. Mr. White also seemed so excited about his ideas that he tended to repeat them over and over. I hope to get a break from the words "autodidactic" and "polymath" for a while. I would recommen ...more
Jo Jones
Oct 26, 2014 Jo Jones rated it it was amazing
Excellent book, very detailed and well researched.
Paul Clarkson
Jan 21, 2012 Paul Clarkson rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Since the Da Vinci Code, the work of Leonardo has taken on mythical proportions. However, the author presents Leonardo in a more realistic light. Starting from his humble birth to his death with the favour of the king of France, White present an honest appraisal of his life.[return][return]In many instances, Da Vinci was ahead of his time, yet at the same time he was equally a man of his age.[return][return]For me this book was a excellent introduction to the world and age of Leonardo Da Vinci.
Nov 25, 2011 Barbm1020 rated it liked it
Michael White has a world on information to offer, but the book is organized so that there is no timeline or other thread to follow, only facts and cross-references. I couldn't even figure out cause and effect in the progress of Leonardo's life and career, as the history lessons got in the way, along with the repetitious statements about his personality. A good book for somebody with a lot of time to spend and a willingness to suspend narrative for the sake of background.
Sep 20, 2016 Raymonds009 rated it really liked it
There were many things that I did not know or forgot about his life. Recent research makes you hope that more of his writings will be discovered as there were so many things going on in his life that he tried to keep secret.

I believe this to be a great overview and recommend it highly if you are a dabbler like me.
David Hall
Sep 02, 2010 David Hall rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I enjoyed this book and there was some nice little bits of trivia. One major issue I had with it was that White seems to focus mainly on what Leonardo didn't finish rather than explaining what was so miraculous about the finished works and ideas. This makes the Leonardo: The First Scientist a peculiarly disheartening read.
Feb 24, 2011 Ali rated it really liked it
"Study me,reader, if you find delight in me, because on very few occasions shall I return to the world, and because the patience for this profession is found in very few, and only in those who wish to compose things anew. come, oh men, to see the miracles that such studies will disclose in nature" Leonardo Da Vinci.

Nov 27, 2013 Linda rated it really liked it
Bought this used at the library. I liked it well enough, but it wasn't as exciting to me as I'd hoped. It had a lot of great information in it. It was provocative, but I don't suppose I'll read it again. It didn't stay with me and I don't remember much about it. Maybe that's why I'm not recommending it heartily.
The book had an interesting premise, exploring da Vinci's scientific & engineering studies.

Where it fails is its lack of a focused narrative. The author could have really used a better edit-job because he repeats certain points over & over & over again.
Feb 27, 2008 Deb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Deb by: K
I trust Kira to recommend a well-written biography. And she did. This one went down smooth. I wished for more photos, but I usually do when reading about an artist. I want to see the painting or the sculpture in question and form my own opinions.
Paul Greer
Oct 05, 2010 Paul Greer rated it really liked it
Interesting look at the scientific contribution. Refreshingly written well before the Dan Brown abomination, therefore remains untainted.
Sharon Rosenberg-Scholl
A fascinating look at the life and work of da Vinci with emphasis on his scientific endeavors into anatomy, flight and optics.
Jeff Sloane
Jul 27, 2009 Jeff Sloane rated it liked it
Good book about Leonardo Da Vinci's life and works. Probably not the best, but worth reading.
Oct 07, 2012 Mon rated it it was ok

Seems like White did not understand the difference betweens Persians and Arabs .
jason levins
Oct 24, 2007 jason levins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the master
There is a shit load of information about Leonardo Da'Vinci in here. Did you know he was gay?
Jan 16, 2008 Damian rated it really liked it
Even though this book makes you feel like a talentless hack, it's still fascinating.
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Michael White is a British writer based in Sydney, Australia. He has been a science editor of British GQ, a columnist for the Sunday Express in London and, 'in a previous incarnation', he was a member of the band the Thompson Twins (1982).
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