Becoming Leonardo: An Exploded View of the Life of Leonardo da Vinci

Becoming Leonardo: An Exploded View of the Life of Leonardo da Vinci

by Mike Lankford


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"I found Mr. Lankford’s writing thought-provoking and Mr. Isaacson’s thought-stifling. Mr.Lankford proposes a great many insights...With immediacy and grace, Becoming Leonardo starts on a high note and gets better to the very end."—WALL STREET JOURNAL

Wall Street Journal 2017 Book of the Year
Spectator 2017 Book of the Year

Why did Leonardo Da Vinci leave so many of his major works uncompleted? Why did this resolute pacifist build war machines for the notorious Borgias? Why did he carry the Mona Lisa with him everywhere he went for decades, yet never quite finish it? Why did he write backwards, and was he really at war with Michelangelo? And was he gay?
In a book unlike anything ever written about the Renaissance genius, Mike Lankford explodes every cliché about Da Vinci and then reconstructs him based on a rich trove of available evidence—bringing to life for the modern reader the man who has been studied by scholars for centuries, yet has remained as mysterious as ever.   
Seeking to envision Da Vinci without the obscuring residue of historical varnish, the sights, sounds, smells, and feel of Renaissance Italy—usually missing in other biographies—are all here, transporting readers back to a world of war and plague and court intrigue, of viciously competitive famous artists, of murderous tyrants with exquisite tastes in art ….
Lankford brilliantly captures Da Vinci's life as the compelling and dangerous adventure it seems to have actually been—fleeing from one sanctuary to the next, somehow surviving in war zones beside his friend Machiavelli, struggling to make art his way or no way at all ... and often paying dearly for those decisions.
It is a thrilling and absorbing journey into the life of a ferociously dedicated loner, whose artwork in one way or another represents his noble rebellion, providing inspiration that is timeless.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612197159
Publisher: Melville House Publishing
Publication date: 04/03/2018
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 721,793
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Mike Lankford's Becoming Leonardo was selected by the Wall Street Journal as a 2017 Book of the Year. He is also the author of Life in Double Time: Confessions of an American Drummer, selected best music book of the year by eight major newspapers including the Chicago Tribune. He lives in Bend, Oregon.

Table of Contents

1 King Death 3

2 Everything's Big at First 15

3 Hot to Trot 27

4 Jailbird 33

5 Strange Fruit Hanging from the Balcony Rail 45

6 From the Edge to the Center 53

7 The Musician from Florence 61

8 Ingenio 69

9 Horsing Around 79

10 The Middle Is Off Center 89

11 A Question Too Far 97

12 Shadow Boxing the Self 113

13 Leonardo, Exploded View 123

14 Academia Leonardi Vinci 127

15 Chaos on the Hoof 141

16 Machiavelli Enters the Mix 151

17 Here Be Dragons 159

18 Florence Redux 179

19 Fighting the Battle 189

20 Jumping Off the Cliff 201

21 I'm outta here!

22 You again? 217

23 Milan II 231

24 Rome 245

25 Playing Kickball at Cloux 253

Autopsy 263

Acknowledgments 267

Illustration Credits 269

Notes 271

Bibliography 277

Index 281

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Becoming Leonardo: An Exploded View of the Life of Leonardo da Vinci 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In all honesty, I both liked and disliked the book. I would recommend the book to other people because it into much detail on only Leonardo and anything that was associated with him. Plus, it also goes into detail about the historical events happening around Leonardo like the de Medici family and the Italian wars. I also loved how bluntly honest about what it knew about Leonardo, like how he was an illegitimate child and about his sexuality, but still discussed the importance these details had in his life. It even goes into detail behind every artwork he has done, how he did it, and the general public opinion about it. However, because of the ‘inappropriate’ language and graphic wr scenes, I would highly recommend this book for adults and teens. It also seems to repeat some of the facts over and over again. Nevertheless, the book is very engaging for those who love art history and regular history. Although, it says that he had somewhat of a bad reputation in Italy, it still praises Leonardo as one of the greatest and most influential people of all time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a Sophomore in High school, and I was required to read this book as part of a research project on Leonardo DaVinci. The book provides all information found relating to his life. When opening the book, the author provides timelines on Leonardo’s life before each chapter. This helps keep an image in mind of what years are occurring throughout the chapter. The author provides images of some of Leonardo’s famous artwork including some of his sketches that were found in his notebooks and some of his most famous artwork. As I continued to read the book I came upon new facts about Leonardo that i never knew, for example that according to 1476 court records he and other four young men were. I loved how the author put time into explains in his own words the events throughout Leonardo's life in the book because it honestly made it a lot easier for me to follow along with. The one thing that did bother me as I was reading the book was that sometimes the author would say his personal opinion and i appreciated his opinion but I kinda need facts.I loved this book and I would recommend this book to anyone who has this project.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book’s author claims to not add new facts about Leonardo or to refute consensus but rather synthesize and offer alternative consideration of what is known about the man with the divine left hand. Historical and cultural context ground Leonardo as a broad, uneven talent who survived to old age in a time stacked against a mind as unlikely as his own. It makes it possible to appreciate what has survived and what has been lost of Leonardo’s work without amounting him to a demigod of foresight and competence. He was a man of boundless curiosity and who forged unlikely connections in his pursuit of knowledge, but also a man for whom fulfilling promises and seeing projects to their conclusion was difficult.