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

Many books have been written on the life of Leonardo da Vinci, the great 15th century painter and inventor. But no one has probed his soul and speculated so profoundly about his actions quite the way Mike Lankford does in Becoming Leonardo: An Exploded View of the Life of Leonardo da Vinci.

Using copious research, Lankford dives into Leonardo's life, beginning with his birth, which was the result of a possible rape that a notary named Ser Piero committed against Caterina, a house slave. Lankford pushes the envelope of what is known about the man and ponders the true nature of the artist. He was left-handed, but was he also dyslexic, and did this cause him to write backwards? Did he have Asperger syndrome, and would that explain his fascination with new and intriguing ideas, as well as his inability to finish a project? Was he a homosexual, and is that why he was thrown into prison for an unspecified amount of time?

The list of conjectures is long, but Lankford backs his ideas with sound observations and keen analysis. He paints a thorough picture of the man who continually searched for new ways to express himself through his art, using innovative techniques that often failed and stopping long before a project was anywhere near completion. During his lifetime, Leonardo failed far more often than he succeeded but, as Lankford surmises, it was only failure in the eyes of those around him. Leonardo led the life he wanted, full of observation and exploration. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

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