Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Leonardo da Vinci

by Emily Hahn, illustrated by Mimi Korach

Well, it looks like my daughter is going to get an introduction to historical spin. I've been reading through her assigned schoolbooks, and a couple of days ago I finished The Second Mrs. Giaconda, a story based on the life of Leonardo da Vinci. This current book is next on the reading list and is a more conventional biography of the man. The names are the same, but the personalities and relationships must have been changed to protect the innocent or something. The Giaconda book presents a cast of mostly likeable characters. The Leonardo biography, in contrast, portrays most of those folks rather negatively. Even Leonardo himself is shown to be a bit of a loser. One can't help but portray him as a genius, of course, but in the biography he comes across as a man hungering for recognition and struggling to pay the bills. So which book is right? I haven't a clue. I'd have to do my own historical research to find out who's playing spinmeister and who (if anyone) is playing straight. (My guess would be that this book is more accurate, but that just shows my bias to trust a book labeled non-fiction over a fictional one.) Anyway, such questions aside, Leonardo da Vinci is a nice, simple biography of one of history's greatest thinkers. It's not a book I devoured eagerly, but would certainly serve as waiting room material.
LibraryThing link


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