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Steven Levingston…in his masterful narrative history…Strathern has produced a compact triple biography that focuses on the intersection of these three extraordinary men in late 1502…Strathern, a novelist and author of other popular histories, does for Machiavelli and da Vinci what he does for Borgia: creates a flesh-and-blood portrait for each that defies historical stereotype. Using his novelist's eye and a historian's sweep, Strathern conveys the emotional subtleties that animated their lives. It's no small feat that he makes you care deeply for these complex figures who lived half a millennium ago.
—The Washington Post