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The Artist, the Philosopher, and the Warrior: Da Vinci, Machiavelli, and Borgia and the World They Shaped

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  511 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Cesare Borgia—three iconic figures whose intersecting lives provide the basis for this astonishing work of narrative history. They could not have been more different, and they would meet only for a short time in 1502, but the events that transpired when they did would significantly alter each man’s perceptions—and the course of W ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published February 22nd 2011 by Bantam (first published February 5th 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,919)
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Marita
Aug 16, 2015 Marita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History lovers and those interested in the Renaissance
This non-fiction book focusses on the Borgia family's pursuit of more and more power. Cesare Borgia had considerable success in the Romagna region and tried to expand all the way to and including the Kingdom of Naples, aiming to ultimately unify the Italian states with himself as ruler. He was initially a very handsome man - later he suffered the ravages of syphilis and wore a mask. He was intelligent and witty, but also cunning, cruel and ruthless. He could be very charming, and managed to both ...more
Jordan
Jan 04, 2011 Jordan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The idea of this book is both excellent and intriguing, but the excecution is poor. A study of three very different men who bestride history and most fortuitiously lived at the same time and shared many experiences which deeply influenced the Renaissance and our modern world should produce some insight into the soul of the Renaissance, or at least the souls of these men who are Renaissance Men writ large. This book fails to produce this insight, primarily due to the ideas of Freudian psychology ...more
Quo
Feb 09, 2016 Quo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in Renaissance History, Leeonardo da Vinci, Machiavelli, the Borgias & the Medicis
Recommended to Quo by: Read for a book discussion group
The Artist, the Philosopher & the Warrior: The Intersecting Lives of Da Vinci, Machiavelli & Borgia and the World They Shaped by Paul Strathern represents a non-fiction book that is more interesting conceptually than when actually read. The premise of Strathern's book is that Leonardo da Vinci, Machiavelli & Cesare Borgia all represented "denials of the spiritual outlook of the preceding medieval era, yet each would in their separate ways, become emblematic of an eternal aspect of th ...more
Kelly
Aug 30, 2011 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paul Strathern's, 'The Artist, The Philosopher and the Warrior,' is an engaging account of some of the greatest minds of the renaissance (and arguably, history).

As I had just travelled to Italy and learned for the first time (yes, I'm a bit late to the renaissance party) about characters such as Machiavelli and Borgia, I was really interested in exploring their lives and their personalities. This book also appealed to me because I knew that it's focus on Florence would therefore lead to an expl
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Superfluous Man
If the book suffers from a flaw (other than its unnecessarily oversold title), it is Mr. Strathern’s strenuous efforts to work da Vinci into the story, which one presumes is a reasonable marketing ploy given the popularity of all things da Vinci these days. Leonardo is a famously enigmatic character who left behind a relatively spare record for future historians, despite the thousands of his notebook pages that have survived. Where the record is silent, Mr. Strathern invents and speculates. For ...more
Micah
Jan 07, 2013 Micah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm fascinated by the fact that this turbulent, bloody thirty year period in Italy produced so much amazing art that defined the Renaissance. Leonardo da Vinci, here portrayed as somewhat of a hostage/indentured servant to Borgia, is such an interesting and complex character. He was an early vegetarian (didn't want to hurt animals) but also devised some of the most cunning and effective ways to kill human beings of that era. I guess artists -- and scientists -- have to make their daly bread.

Also
...more
Lauren Albert
I had two problems with this book. The first is that the book doesn't quite cohere--it is hard to do group biographies and this one jumps from subject to subject. The second, and sometimes related problem, is the author's tendency to speculate, sometimes without making it clear that that is what he is doing. As I've written before, most histories require an amount of speculation but it must always be limited and explicit. I say this problem is related to the first because he often discusses the ...more
Pam Doyle
Jan 18, 2014 Pam Doyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was awesome. A good overview of Renaissance Florence and the intersection of the lives of DaVinci, Machiavelli and the Borgia's: Rodrigo, Cesare and Lucrezia from 1498 to 1512-ish. I would recommend this book 110%. I did feel like I wanted to know more about Machiavelli and/or DaVinci as a result of reading this book. Please note that this book has an extensive character list and very good maps. I learned that Machiavelli survived torture, strappado. Amazing. I never knew that.

This boo
...more
Margaret
This is a very interesting book looking at the lives of Leonarda Da Vinci, Niccolo Machiavelli and Cesare Borgia and how they intersected.

It's a very interesting book and I learned much about all three men that I had not previously known.

Well written and erudite, the author does repeat himself on a number of occasions, which is slightly annoying. Because we've been told what happened when the spotlight was on Machiavelli doesn't mean we need it repeated when the light switches to Leonardo or Ces
...more
Mohammed Rahman
Jan 23, 2015 Mohammed Rahman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Artist, the Philosopher, and the Warrior" by Paul Strathern was quite a bit to read. Not because it was bad, but because it gave you such insight into the life of the well know Leonardo da Vinci, as well as Niccolo Machiavelli and Cesare Borgia. The book was detailed with information and commentary the lives of these people, giving it a special touch. Also,it was filled with quotes from the works of each person, so you know that these accounts are real. Furthermore, it explains later how th ...more
Ethan Auten
This book had a lot of good information concerning Cesare Borgia and Niccolò Machiavelli. However, trying to add Leonardo da Vinci to the mix of the story, in my opinion, was a stretch. The writing concerning da Vinci was poorly written in the fact that Strathern was trying to draw conclusions based off of snippets of information that could have been taken to mean a dozen other different things. In fact, the claim that Leonardo was as important to the Renaissance was never proven. Strathern hims ...more
Livesonabike
This book had an interesting premise: da Vinci, Machiavelli and Borgia were on a campaign together in the Romagna during the mid-Renaissance, and the story follows the three men through the history of the day, claiming that their associations with one another deeply shaped all of them. It's an interesting claim, but I was thoroughly unimpressed with the way Strathern attempted to justify it.

I'll start with what I liked about it: by focusing on three very different men - one warrior, one artist,
...more
Janet Meissner
Wow, the history I know now that I've read this book! Wow, what an effort it was to get through it! A book club book for a group who says they love history. This is a test of their commitment. I agree with some reviewers who said the book could stand some editing. I find that pop history often includes more extra facts than necessary and that they distract from the initial purpose for writing the book. (Unless you're reading the encyclopedia.) Here is the time of the arguably worst pope (Alexand ...more
Venky
Sep 30, 2014 Venky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bibliocase
A rare albeit fleeting confluence of three of the most incisive minds to have graced the Renaissance Era. The gentle genius of Leonardo Da Vinci and the marvelous machinations of Niccolo Machiavelli are forced to unite for furthering the cause of a blood thirsty and power mongering Cesare Borgia - an impetuous Duke and an imperious warrior. What follows is an intricate and inextricable entanglement of coruscating art, political dexterity and extreme barbarity. Paul Strathern has produced a work ...more
Tracey Johnson
Mar 26, 2012 Tracey Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The author worked a little too hard trying to include Da Vinci, but it was a fascinating book nonetheless.
Janie
Jan 25, 2016 Janie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I didn't read it all, but what I read was very interesting. The story line got bogged down at times in details -- but that's from the perspective of a non-historian who didn't recognize the names and details of the early 1500s Italian country.

Unfortunately, my secondary goal of considering it for our school library found that it probably won't make it -- amazing details of a traveling politico (Machiavelli) and a obdurate warrior (Borgia) and the anatomical drawing of da Vinci (of the fem
...more
Stian
Sep 26, 2014 Stian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't speak much for its qualities as a historical biography, I'm not well versed in those, not a connoisseur in any way. I'm not an expert of the time period, and I don't know about the accuracy of the claims put forth or the validity of the speculation.

But I haven't ever bonded more with any character, fictional or real or in any genre of literature, than I did with Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolo Machiavelli and Cesare Borgia as I read Strathern's book. Through his outstanding narrative, I was f
...more
Tom Riggall
Mar 07, 2014 Tom Riggall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating account of a turbulent time in Italian history, told brilliantly around the lives of three of the most important figures of the period. Strathern's prose is excellently written, meticulously detailed while still being enjoyable and easy to follow, and devotes equal attention to each of the main characters.

I have become a bit of a Da Vinci/Italian Renaissance fanatic over the last few years and picked up this book to feed my seemingly insatiable hunger for this knowledge. I was defi
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D.w.
Jul 14, 2011 D.w. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This book took me nearly 2 years to read from start to finish. Of course I read about 150 other books in between starting and finishing it so I want to decipher why.

For me, it really was that this was a poorly written book. It wanted to be one thing and failed at it, then tried to be another, and was terrible in its effort. First I thought the author wanted us to be presented with a great piece of history, beyond what you would find in a textbook, or a dissertation.

As I read this though, we hear
...more
Alicia
Sep 02, 2012 Alicia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This could be interesting: Niccolo Machiavelli, Caesar Borgia and Leonardo daVinci influencing one another in a riveting century I don't know all that much about. It misses the mark, and leaves the impression the brief book was tossed together to make a marketing deadline rather than a consideration of mutual impact. Borgia and Machiavelli both rise out of the pages as -- incomplete. Borgia is at times dashing, at times morally twisted, at times an enlightened conqueror. His death makes a riveti ...more
carmen i.
Aug 14, 2012 carmen i. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed


“In Italy for thirty years under the Borgia’s they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace — and what did they produce? The Cuckoo Clock.” ~ Orson Welles in The Third Man.

My take on THE Plot:

In the 1500‘s, Italy was under Borgia dominion. It was the Era in which powerful families fought for supremacy and power by means of extortion,
...more
John Shideler
Jan 09, 2013 John Shideler rated it it was amazing
Not knowing much about any of these historical figures besides what is widely know about da Vinci (artist, inventor, thinker), Machiavelli (wrote The Prince), and knowing nothing about Borgia, I found this to be a particularly enjoyable read. History is one of my passions and I enjoy learning new things about historical figures and the times in which they lived.

Some have said in their reviews that da Vinci was forced into this book, which I can both understand and also disagree with. Leonardo's
...more
Elizabeth Sulzby
The Artist, The Philosopher, and the Warrior
by Paul Strathern

A historical account of what is known and what this historical writer (Strathern) concocts from journals, notebooks, Papal sources, etc.
Cesere Borgia, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Niccolo Machiavelli.

I started reading in this area because of the new SHOtime series, The Borgias. I had read earlier that Machiavelli was said to base The Prince and other writings on his experience with the Borgia family. (Now I worry that the series will only be
...more
Margaret
In different ways, Cesare Borgia, Leonardo da Vinci, and Niccolo Machiavelli are all men who shaped what we know as the Italian Renaissance. Here, Strathern discusses their achievements and examines the ways in which these intersected. The ties between Machiavelli and Borgia are well-documented (after all, the ideal ruler of Machiavelli's most famous work is modelled after Borgia), as are those between Borgia and Leonardo, who worked at Florence's request as Borgia's military engineer for a time ...more
Nelson Rosario
Dec 29, 2013 Nelson Rosario rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memory
I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would enjoy it when I was about a third of the way into reading it. The book starts off slow, and methodically goes through the early years of Leonardo, Machiavelli, and Borgia. The title is a bit sensational, but fairly accurate. This is a book about three important renaissance figures and how they impacted their world.

The book reads more like a history textbook than a narrative which contributed to the difficulty I had advancing in the book. I found th
...more
Joe Attanasio
Oct 23, 2015 Joe Attanasio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I expected a lot of things out of this book. I expected to use it as research (check) I expected to learn a lot about some of my favorite characters in Italian history (check) and I expected to come out needing to find more research (check). I did not expect to leave it depressed. I haven't been this depressed reading a historical monographs where I knew what was going to happen since Roger Crowley's 1453. You know Italy does not unify until the 19th century, but you can't help root for Borgia a ...more
Pam
Jan 01, 2016 Pam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very in depth look of a narrow portion of history. Explained in detail the motivations of these 3 famous people, Da Vinci, Machiavelli and Cesare Borgia.

The main feeling I get after reading this was...WHY, why did the Borgias want to conquer all of Italy, etc. etc. How fleeting is 1 life in the vast timeline of history. All that fighting...for what?
Calley
Nov 15, 2015 Calley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting account of a period I didn't know much about. Sometimes a little too much detail, sometimes a little too much speculation about how the main characters might have felt, but overall well-told and fascinating account of a key period in Italy
Marva Whitaker
It's a good read and very interesting; but this is definitely a case of don't judge a book by its cover. I thought this was going to be about Da Vinci, Machiavelli, and Borgia. The back cover had a summary that made it sound like this was about the short time they spent together - in an epic way. Rather, the book should have just been called Borgia. Sure, about 30-40 pages before the book ends he dies - so we end up spending a little more time on Da Vinci and Machiavelli, but it's really, really ...more
Shawn Humphrey
May 22, 2015 Shawn Humphrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Borrowed this book and finished reading it maybe two years ago. I really enjoyed the connections between these three people. The author made excellent choices in determining how to connect the dots, and I found it very entertaining reading.
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Paul Strathern (born 1940) is a British writer and academic. He was born in London, and studied at Trinity College, Dublin, after which he served in the Merchant Navy over a period of two years. He then lived on a Greek island. In 1966 he travelled overland to India and the Himalayas. His novel A Season in Abyssinia won a Somerset Maugham Award in 1972.

Besides five novels, he has also written nume
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More about Paul Strathern...

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