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Leonardo: The First Scientist

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Leonardo makes an excellent case for Leonardo's erastraddling…Leonardo's spirit is present in White's careful scholarship and independence of mind…The diversity of White's talents might have given him a personal insight into the polymath nature of his childhood hero's genius. Remarkably, he does so without going over the top, and even takes time to deflate some of the existing hyperbolic folklore Leonardo inspires'

Michael White's brilliantly absorbing new biography argues that ...

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Overview

Leonardo makes an excellent case for Leonardo's erastraddling…Leonardo's spirit is present in White's careful scholarship and independence of mind…The diversity of White's talents might have given him a personal insight into the polymath nature of his childhood hero's genius. Remarkably, he does so without going over the top, and even takes time to deflate some of the existing hyperbolic folklore Leonardo inspires'

Michael White's brilliantly absorbing new biography argues that Leonardo da Vinci was, through the scope of his investigations, his experimental method and his desire to push back the boundaries of knowledge, nothing less than 'The First Scientist'. Weaving this history of early scientific endeavor into the colorful story of Leonardo's personal life - the deprivations of his childhood, his homosexuality, his relationships with contemporaries from Machiavelli to'Borgia - Leonardo: The First Scientist presents a thought-provoking study if the definitive amalgamation if art and science.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It's not easy writing a biography of a legendary figure like Leonardo da Vinci, one whose life has already been well chronicled by numerous others. White (Stephen Hawking: A Life in Science, etc.) takes on this task to demonstrate that, in addition to his artistic mastery and engineering acumen, Leonardo boasted scientific advances and insights that qualify him as the first scientist. Born more than 100 years before Francis Bacon--who for his work in defining the scientific method is generally credited with this designation--Leonardo wrote about experimentation in a surprisingly modern manner. He focused his attention primarily on optics, human anatomy, flight, geography and geology, making significant advances in each field. "Quite simply, if Leonardo had chosen to concentrate upon only one of the areas of research he tackled and had even then come up with the results he did, he would still be remembered today for his genius and imagination," writes White. Sadly, virtually none of Leonardo's scientific work was published during his life and much was lost over the ensuing generations. In his scientific endeavors, as with most of his other areas of interest, Leonardo was a very private person and one who seemed unable to fully finish tasks. Although there's not much new material here, White does an amiable job of presenting Leonardo and his times in a fresh manner. 35 b&w photos. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
KLIATT
Vegetarian, homosexual, and Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci is best known as an artist, but award-winning author Michael White chooses to focus on the scientific work of a polymath, the man who could do it all. Leonardo researched in the fields of optics, anatomy, geology and hydrology. He performed autopsies, invented or drew plans for a tank, a helicopter, a parachute, mechanized vehicles, pumps, irrigation systems, and digging machines. He discovered the phenomenon of atmospheric refraction. He also invented a special octagonal mirror that created a repeat image, a table lamp for which the intensity could be varied, folding furniture, and a set of doors that opened and closed automatically. As a military engineer, he designed an aqualung, pumps for getting water into siege towers, efficient ways to pour boiling oil on enemy troops, and techniques for dislodging attack ladders from castle walls. White presents these facts in an engaging style, dwelling on Leonardo's sexual preferences, his illegitimacy, his abandonment in early childhood by his mother, and his relationships with the great men of his age. Da Vinci and his era come alive again in this skillfully written biography. Thumbnail sketches of the major characters in Leonardo's life, a timeline, notes, and an index finish the volume. Highly recommended. Category: Science. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, St. Martin's, 385p. illus. notes. index., $16.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Janet Julian; former English Teacher, Grafton H.S., Grafton, MA SOURCE: KLIATT, March 2002 (Vol. 36, No. 2)
Library Journal
Leonardo da Vinci is usually thought of as the consummate Renaissance man--the perfect blend of art and science. Yet almost all biographies focus on his accomplishments as an artist and engineer. This biography provides us with an examination of Leonardo as a man and scientist. White who has published 15 earlier works, many of which are biographies of prominent scientists (Isaac Newton; Darwin: A Life in Science), has produced a highly readable account of Leonardo's life and scientific accomplishments. The author explores Leonardo's research notebooks and discusses his subject's homosexuality and relationships to such Renaissance figures as Niccol Machiavelli and Cesare Borgia. The admiration the author has for his subject is evident, and, as a result, his book is a pleasurable read. Nicely illustrated and intended for general readers, it will also be of interest to scholars. Highly recommended for all libraries.--James Olson, Northeastern Illinois Univ., Chicago Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
-- Morey Berger, St. Joseph's Hospital Medical Library, Tucson, Arizona
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312203337
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 8/17/2000
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.52 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.34 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael White is the author of the international best-seller Stephen Hawking: A Life in Science (with John Gribbin), the award-winning Isaac Newton: the Last Sorcerer, Life Out There, and Weird Science. He is currently working on a book about scientific rivalry from Newton to Bill Gates. White lives with his wife and family near London.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2000

    A great book

    This is just a great book and its really worth the time to read.

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