The #1 New York Times Bestseller “A powerful story of an exhilarating mind and life...a study in creativity: how to define it, how to achieve it.”—The New Yorker “Vigorous, insightful.”—The Washington Post “A masterpiece.”—San Francisco Chronicle “Luminous.”—The Daily Beast He was history’s most creative genius. What secrets can he teach us? The author of the acclaimed bestsellers Steve Jobs, Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin brings Leonardo da Vinci to life in this exciting new biography.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.
Walter Isaacson is the president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies institute based in Washington, DC. He has been the chairman and CEO of CNN and the editor of Time Magazine. In 2011 he wrote a biography titled “Steve Jobs”, which was based off on over forty interviews with Jobs over a two-year period up until shortly before his death. It became an international best-seller, breaking all records for sales of a biography.
Isaacson was born on May 20, 1952, in New Orleans. He is a graduate of Harvard College and of Pembroke College of Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He began his career at “The Sunday Times” of London and then the New Orleans “Times-Picayune”. He joined “Times” in 1978 and served as a political correspondent, national editor, and editor of digital media before becoming the magazine’s 14th editor in 1996. He became chairman and CEO of CNN in 2001, and then president and CEO of the Aspen Institute in 2003.
Along with “Steve Jobs”, Isaacson has published several other books, including: “Einstein: His Life and Universe” (2007), “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life” (2003) and Kissinger: A Biography” (1992), as well as coauthor of “The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made” (1986). His most recent book, “The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution” (2014) is a biographical tale of the people who invented the computer, Internet and the other great innovations of the digital age. It became a New York Times bestseller.
Isaacson has been awarded many accolades of the years, including in 2012, when he was selected as one of the Time 100, the magazine’s list of the most influential people in the world.