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Leonardo Da Vinci: A Life
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Leonardo Da Vinci: A Life (Penguin Lives)

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  248 ratings  ·  43 reviews
National Book Award winner Sherwin Nuland distills one of the greatest minds ever into its pure essence...truly awe-inspiring (Time) The life and work of the great Italian Renaissance artist and scientist Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) have proved endlessly fascinating for generations. In Leonardo da Vinci, Sherwin Nuland completes his twenty-year quest to understand an unl ...more
ebook, 176 pages
Published January 4th 2005 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2000)
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Artguy
In my opinion, which is only backed up by this book, Leonardo Da Vinci is the most fascinatingly brilliant man to ever live. Not only was he a legendary painter, but he made discoveries in areas of anatomy and physiology that weren't otherwise "discovered" in some instances until 1969. He was a sought-after weapons builder in a few wars, a civil engineer tasked with redesigning conquered cities, and a great writer among other things.

What is amazing is that, although he accomplished so much, he c
...more
Chad
So I knew Leonardo was an artist, anatomist, engineer, and had a cameo in Ever After (my wife made me watch it). It was about time I learned more.

I found Leonardo to be enthralling. I loved his insatiable curiosity. I empathized with his habit of beginning so many projects and having a tough time finishing them. I found it interesting how he began studying anatomy in order to be a better artist, but it appears shifted to being an artist to that he could further study anatomy. I find it fascinat
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Ryan
4. 1888 English Edition

The Manifesto was published as the platform of the Communist League, a working men's association, first exclusively German, later on international, and under the political conditions of the Continent before 1848, unavoidably a secret society. At a Congress of the League, held in November 1847, Marx and Engels were commissioned to prepare a complete theoretical and practical party programme. Drawn up in German, in January 1848, the manuscript was sent to the printer in Lond
...more
Barbara
Leonardo da Vinci was a gifted and brillant man - way ahead of his time! He was a painter, architect, engineer, philosopher, mathematician, and scientist.

This slim volume (170 pages) is a quick read that provides an overview of Leonardo's early life and accomplishments.

The author, Sherwin Nuland, is a surgeon. The section of the book on Leonardo's contributions to the study of anatomy and medicine were very well done. It's clear the author appreciated the brillance of Leonardo and understood tha
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Elynn
It was nice because it was a short history, and it was informative, but sometimes got too much into the theoretical (why Leonardo did something) and drew on psychological/sexual impetus for his paintings, especially when it came to the Mona Lisa. Also it spent too much time addressing popular belief that Leonardo was homosexual, which the author believes is possible, without actually giving evidence or reasons why he was (the author discounts the one event that most historians use to justify the ...more
123sami
When I came across this book, I figured that it would be a boring biography of unimportant things in Leonardo's life, but I took it anyway, because it looked short. I have been interested in this person, Leonardo Da Vinci, for a few years now and wanted to know a bit more about him. It took me a little while to adjust to the book due to the author's vast and distinct vocabulary. After the twentieth page, I started to become more fluent with the book by understanding how it was written. It was j ...more
Will
I enjoyed the understanding of where and when he was during his life. Perhaps I expected more content on the process of creating art, and various important pieces; instead, the author spends quite a bit of ink discussing psychoanalysis of his mommy issues leading potentially to his ambiguous and likely suppressed sexuality, and some digressions on Freud's thinking about da Vinci. Also, there was quite a bit of semi-useful discussion of his influence as an anatomist. Sadly, a lot of this text was ...more
Simon
I was vaguely amused that this book started out with the statement that the question of Leonardo's sexuality is unimportant, and then went on to be pretty much obsessed with it for the rest of the book. :)
Avocado
This is a simply beautiful biography of Leonardo. I recommend this book both as an introduction to the life of Leonardo and to the experienced Leonardo reader. For someone who knows little about the man but is curious to learn more, it is an expertly written introduction. It gives you an outline of his life's events, but it digs even deeper. It tells you of his passions, his emotions, and his desires. It isn't simply a biography of fact. You will finish this book feeling that much closer to hist ...more
Rumil
This is a good book for people wanting a general overview of Leonardo's life and work. The author focuses mostly on Leonardo's research in the field of anatomy, unsurprising considering his career as a surgeon. This book is by no means the authoritative biography of Leonardo da Vinci, but it is interesting. The author does a good job of pulling together many different view points and opinions on why Leonardo did many of the things he did, but also tends to depend on a lot of speculation as fact. ...more
Subhash
Jul 25, 2014 Subhash is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
i Like This Book and Focus To Be Great Code
Chrisanne
Redundant and overly focused on things that I felt were irrelevant.
Erik
Very thin writing regarding Leonardo's life, though one can't blame the author - the sources for such a biography don't exist. Thus, there is lots of speculation, suppositions, etc. I also never got the sense of how the masterworks we associate with Leonardo - the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, etc. - fit in within the context of his life. I suppose one shouldn't read a short biography to get that fullness, though other books in this series (especially the one on Beethoven by Edmund Morris) have ac ...more
Josh Lange
-birthplace disputed
-anatomy knowledge hundreds of years before his time
-first person to recognize arteriosclerosis
-left many projects unfinished
-shopped around ideas for war machines that were never built
-planned buildings that were never made
-worked for the ruler who was the basis for machiavelli's the prince
-high value of math, considered painting the highest art
-saw the best way to paint as being a capturing of a specific moment (last supper: just after jesus reveals he knows someone will be
...more
Linda Appelbaum
I gained some idea about the man but in some ways ended up with more questions than answers. Much of the book was supposition and speculation.Very little facts are known to researchers today so fleshing out Leonardo Da Vinci is a difficult task.He was obviously a genius and probably had ADD b ecause he went off in so many directions and left unfinished countless projects. Even so some of his ideas were centuries ahead of their time. I like to wonder what such a mind today would be like.
Mary
I am always interested in the lives of people more gifted than myself. When I was a little girl, I loved reading biographies and still do.

When I read biographies as a child, I was looking for a formula for success. Now, I read biographies to see how people get through the day.

This book is a good overview of daVinci's life for the general reader. Nuland has an effective prose style that enhances the book's interesting subject.
Cory
I found this book rather interesting, although it was about Leonardo-the anatomist, and I would rather learn about Leonardo-the visionary, and his great plans to make man fly, and his plans to build a giant horse out of bronze, this was still interesting. Although it was a rather hard read because it was by a medicine professor at Yale, it was still understandable, and I learned a lot about Da Vinci's life, and would love to learn more.
Natalie
Part biography and part medical history, this book was interesting, but at times seemed to get bogged down in unnecessary details that did not aid the progression of the book. The last chapter was the most interesting. In this chapter, Nuland focuses on the specific things that Leonardo discovered about the human body that doctors did not rediscover until the second half of the nineteenth century. Pretty crazy stuff.
Roxana Nunez
I always knew that Leonardo was more than a great artist. I knew he had a very curious mind. What I did not know is how famous he was during his time, for starting projects and not finishing them. It seems that in today's standards, he would have been diagnosed ADHD. Also, the writer has a different perspective. His interest is on science and yet he blends both the artistic and the scientific mind of Da Vinci very well.
Bryce Holt
Informative, yes, but done by a man so obviously fixated with the anatomist that the exploration seems complete only at an obsessive schoolboy level. We all become enamored with those creative geniuses who far outweigh our own scopes and concepts, but to see someone more or less suckle the creative teat so amorously kind of made me creeped out.

James
Feb 29, 2008 James rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Sherwin Nuland, a physician who also wrote How We Die among other works, did a masterful job with this biography of the great Da Vinci. This demythologized the man and gave me a more down-to-earth and human view of him, while simultaneously increasing my respect and admiration for him. A very good book about an astonishing man.
Noemie
Leonardo was a very interesting man, someone I would have loved to meet. He was very intelligent but a procrastinator. Which is sad, because he could have made a lot more things! I've been interested in him since I first heard of him, now I know a lot more about him and I feel like he's even more intriguing then what I thought!
Apple
Fascinating yet I wish there were more information and more in-depth accounts on who he was as a man and as an artist. But regardless of what I found lacking, the only fact is this: that Leonardo da Vinci remains one of the most enigmatic, interesting and gifted intellectuals in history.
Harry Red
Simply mind-blowing. A true genius comes to life.

Nuland is a professor of medicine and he calls Leonardo 'the greatest anatomist of all time.' High praise indeed, from a specialist no less.

Read this if you want to see how high human potential actually is.
Meltha
A biography of da Vinci written from the point of view not of an art historian or "da Vinci code" expert, but a biologist. This is da Vinci the scientist. The man was, without a doubt, brilliant.
Melody
Thin, short and not particularly compelling. I understand that there isn't much biographical information available, and I think Nuland gave it the old college try, but this just didn't work for me.
Joe Hilley
This book started well, but then the writing became awkward with a lot of jumping ahead in time, then coming back, which destroyed the chronology of the book and made it hard to read.
Helen Azar
A fairly good, albeit not very comprehensive, biography of the great artist (and then-some). A bit distracting because it goes back and forth in time, but a pretty good first introduction.
Theresa Johnston
This is really a love letter about Leonardo. It's actually an interesting bio focusing on how amazing Leonardo's discoveries were in anatomy. Short and sweet and a good quick over view.
K8e
Written for art historians/serious art scholars. It's got a little interesting info, whole lotta boring. You might need a dictionary while reading this one too...
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Sherwin Nuland was an American surgeon and author who taught bioethics and medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine. He was the author of The New York Times bestseller and National Book Award winning How We Die, and has also written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New Republic, Time, and the New York Review of Books.

His NYTimes obit: http://nyti.ms/1kxNtQC
More about Sherwin B. Nuland...
How We Die: Reflections of Life's Final Chapter The Doctors' Plague: Germs, Childbed Fever, and the Strange Story of Ignac Semmelweis Doctors: The Biography of Medicine The Soul of Medicine: Tales from the Bedside How We Live

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