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Leonardo da Vinci

Written by: Walter Isaacson
Narrated by: Alfred Molina
Length: 17 hrs and 1 min
4.5 out of 5 stars (194 ratings)

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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, October 2017

Walter Isaacson, one of the most celebrated biographers of our time, is probably the only person who could successfully tackle a biography of the utterly complex, enigmatic, and misunderstood Leonardo Da Vinci; in fact, you could say that Da Vinci is the Steve Jobs of the 15th century (smile if you get it). Half jokes aside, Isaacson does an incredible job of melding Da Vinci the man with Da Vinci the artist, scientist, and inventor. Though it sometimes seems as if Dan Brown deserves credit for the recent cultural fascination with the Renaissance artist, Isaacson will surely be credited for unearthing Da Vinci’s past in a scholarly yet manageable manner. Narrator Alfred Molina's rhythmic and smooth delivery makes this work all the more accessible. —Laura, Audible Editor

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.

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 Audio

What members say

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Incredible way to learn about history science and art

I started out knowing nothing about art generally and nothing about da Vinci. The book is a joy and sucks you into the life of da Vinci, the period in Italy, the astounding curiosity that led to the incredible art and finally why the Mona Lisa matters. On a side note, I saw my first live da Vinci at the National Gallery in London and it was awesome to appreciate the painting in a deep way. Thanks Walter!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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The best thing I’ve read in “forever”!

A most astonishing, extremely well researched and accessibly
delivered work! Couldn’t tear myself away!
The PDF Is a must! Be sure to download it and refer to it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Insightful and Analytical

Crystal clear audio with brilliant and smooth narration, the content itself was very insightful though the author spent more time focusing on the analysis of Da Vinci's work as opposed to his personal life and oddities.
Still an excellent introduction to one of the world's most renowned creators.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Interesting synopsis to the life of a genius.

it was pretty enjoyable audiobook, however you do really need the accompanying PDF to see Leonardo da Vinci's works. I was a chapter or so and when I realized how much I needed it and had to find it on the internet to download.
The only issue I had with the book came at the very last chapter when there was comparisons made more than once to Steve Jobs, this diminished the integrity of the author since he clearly hasn't done a bit of research. Comparing absolutely anything that Leonardo da Vinci did to Steve Jobs?... you might have swell compared him to Geraldo Rivera.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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I wish I had a time machine

Isaacson’s biography is incredibly well researched. Five hundred years after his death DaVinci remains such an enigmatic figure that you cannot wish having read this book to know more of him.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Well worth listening to

Who has not heard of Leonardo da Vinci? Yet how much does the average person actually know about him? This wonderfully written book reveals to us the man that Leonardo was, the historical context in which he lived, which included well known figures such as Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and Cesare Borgia, and Leonardo’s amazing accomplishments in many diverse fields. One is left in wonder that such a person lived, and one is thankful too for the social and economic environment that allowed a man like Leonardo to devote himself to such varied pursuits. There is much to ponder here. Molina is an excellent reader, whose tone seemed to me just right for the material. It is a delight to hear his Italian pronunciation. We also get to hear Isaacson’s own voice in the introduction and conclusion.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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#Audible1 Prosciutto e mozzarella

I listened to Mr. Isaacson's Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography and loved the style of following a story while coming back to chronological events, and it rings true with Leonardo da Vinci... Next book might just have to be Mr. Isaacson's Einstein...

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  • Joe
  • 2018-09-18

Best of Da Vinci

If you have any interest in the works, life or overall career of Leonardao Da Vinci, don't waste your time anywhere else. Walter Isaacson's reputation, and previous works, speak for themselves and this book is no exception. A great read, or listen that will give you some incredible insight into a very unique and inspiring man. #Audible1

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One of history's most fascinating men come to life

Words such as "genius" are created for men like Leonardo. His many talents and accomplishments pushed the boundaries of anatomy, art, biology, botany, geology, physics, architecture, weaponry, and so on. However, to most people, our knowledge of Leonardo often stops here: he was a giant among mortals, out of our reach.

It is the more human side of him, the child-like wonderer that Isaacson was able to so vividly capture. In this book, we learn about Leonardo's life not by looking up at an 80-ft tall giant, but by walking alongside him through the streets of Florence, looking over his shoulder as he ponders the next brush stroke and as he struggles with the everyday difficulties of being a human. Like a master painter striving to recreate the intricacy of light beams bouncing off of his subjects, Isaacson captures the very subtlety and nuance of Leonardo's life for the reader. I highly recommend this book to any curious reader. Living vicariously through the life of Leonardo da Vinci must have been one of the most sublime experiences that I have ever had. #Audible1

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  • DHR
  • 2018-08-26

Headline

I thought it was about Leonardo Da Vinci, but according to Alfred Molina, it is about someone named LayaNaaldo. Still very interesting.

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  • Kristopher S.
  • 2017-11-13

Wish the sample was not from the preface!

Alfred Molina gives a good performance, but you wouldn't know it if you were to buy this based on the audio sample. This is something I often check before buying, luckily I recognized Isaacson's funny voice and assumed it was a section of the preface.

The samples should give an overall impression of the narrator, not the author or other contributor in a preface.

230 of 239 people found this review helpful

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  • Bikerclimber
  • 2017-10-19

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.

146 of 155 people found this review helpful

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  • Mistress Amanita
  • 2017-10-19

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!

66 of 70 people found this review helpful

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  • heather
  • 2017-11-02

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.

83 of 92 people found this review helpful

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  • J.B.
  • 2017-10-26

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.

56 of 62 people found this review helpful

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  • John Chapman
  • 2017-11-13

Loved It, but...

Loved listening to the depth of research that comes out in every part of this amazing story about Leonardo, but it's becomes a bit challenging to follow the audio and also access the images of the paintings that Isaacson references throughout the book. Audible's user experience is great, but it may be a work that lends itself to the physical copy of the book due to the subject matter.

AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Ch.U.
  • 2017-10-29

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.

38 of 42 people found this review helpful

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  • JCH
  • 2017-11-05

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.

21 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Ellen H.
  • 2017-10-23

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?

61 of 69 people found this review helpful

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  • nicholas
  • 2017-10-23

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.

25 of 28 people found this review helpful