Regular price: £15.99

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – choose any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • Free, unlimited access to Audio Shows
  • After your trial, Audible is just £7.99/month
OR
In Basket

Summary

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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

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

Critic reviews

"To read this magnificent biography of Leonardo da Vinci is to take a tour through the life and works of one of the most extraordinary human beings of all time in the company of the most engaging, informed, and insightful guide imaginable. Walter Isaacson is at once a true scholar and a spellbinding writer. And what a wealth of lessons there are to be learned in these pages." (David McCullough)

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    191
  • 4 Stars
    60
  • 3 Stars
    12
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    5

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    173
  • 4 Stars
    51
  • 3 Stars
    7
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    3

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    170
  • 4 Stars
    47
  • 3 Stars
    12
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    1
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An art history course in a book

I never enjoyed learning art history so much. Isaacson really knows how to deliver the facts wrapped in interesting context, sometimes even suspense. His narrative style really pulls you in, as if you were watching a movie. I cried listening to his description of the last minutes of Leonardo's life. And bravo also to Alfred Molina for the great tone and delivery. After a while you start to chuckle every time you hear about a deadline that Leonardo accepted, like a running joke throughout the book. I am now re-reading it as a print book.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An inspiration to be passionately curious.

Incredible book about an incredible life. I am a huge fan of all of Isaacson's biographies and this I feel is his best.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A fascinating biography.

Most people know about his wonderful paintings but I was certainly not so aware of the breadth of his interests and achievements, from engineering to maths and biology. What an amazing man!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Sorry to say goodbye

Would you consider the audio edition of Leonardo Da Vinci to be better than the print version?

Yes, I think the narration gives a warmth and familiarity with the characters!

What was one of the most memorable moments of Leonardo Da Vinci?

I loved learning Leonardo was a lover of collaborations, with humour and kindness.

What about Alfred Molina’s performance did you like?

Alfred Molina was truly engaging. I listened in long bouts as I really didn't want to tear myself a way. It felt like anecdote from a friend.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

More than genius

Any additional comments?

A ambulate gem. I will listen again in a couple of years once I have forgotten what I have learned!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book

Engineers should read this, it shows engineers and stylists are and should be the same

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • C I H
  • Bath, United Kingdom
  • 30-05-18

Fascinating

Overall not only was Leonard a genius but credit must go to Walter Isaacson for this epic masterpiece in explaining Leonardo in such a comprehensive and understandable fashion ; Alfred Molina rendition adds to this unique and memorable presentation.
A must read for all , especially for those starting the journey of life no matter what discipline they favour.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book

An excellent book about a fascinating individual with an excellent narrator. Would strongly recommend, Walter issacson is a superb writer

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Another excellent biography from Isaacson

The Da Vinci books is a wonderful listen and Alfred Molina is a brilliant narrator.

At first I thought the production would suffer from not having ready access to the paintings (I usually listen to audiobooks when driving or walking the dogs) being referenced but Isaacson paints such a rich picture with his words that the descriptions still resonated with me when I later went back to view the PDF.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Best ebook I listened to by far! Inspiring

Great book that captivates fully the life of an amazing individual ! will buy the book and give it to my 12 year old daughter, I am sure she will be as inspired as me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant biography of an exceptional man

Da Vinci is one of the most inspiring people in history. I’ve read and watched other studies on his life and work and his book is one of the best.

Isaacson does a brilliant job of piecing together his research along with his own reflections on it in his biography.
I look forward to reading his other biographical books.

I highly recommend his book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • N. Ravi Krishnan
  • 30-04-18

Awe Inspiring

An awe inspiring account one of the greatest geniuses of our time brilliantly captured by Walter Isaacson

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • A Customer
  • 22-11-17

Amazing book

Easily the best book I have ever read or listened. Already feeling sad at coming to its end.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Chrissie
  • 07-08-18

I was sorry it ended...

Leonardo was an impressive being. Stay curious, make notes. Nice to understand a bit more what all the “fuss” is about with his paintings.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bradley Shaw
  • 21-06-18

Amazing insights

Leonardo da Vinci has an incredible story of you are interested in human nature, history and or innovation this should be required listening...

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Peter J Treloar
  • 07-06-18

Brilliant

Isaacson’s treatment is inspirational
Makes me yearn for more. & now I can wonder at the Mona Lisa, & better understand art.