[Book Review] Leonardo’s Brain by Leonard Shlain

Leonardo's Brain: Understanding da Vinci's Creative GeniusLeonardo’s Brain: Understanding da Vinci’s Creative Genius by Leonard Shlain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a great idea for a book! A mixture of History, Art History, Psychology, and Brain Science, Leonardo’s Brain is a wonderful attempt to try to get inside da Vinci’s head. The book makes a convincing case that da Vinci was the first real scientist in addition to being the greatest artist who had lived up until his time, and details many of the groundbreaking scientific ideas and artistic techniques he originated. Each chapter is an easy read walking through various aspects of what is known about da Vinci with respect to his life at the time, (homosexuality, vegetarianism, etc.) and how that must have been received by his peers and patrons. The chapters also cover various aspects of what is known about brain function and tries to map these onto what is known about da Vinci. Towards the end of the book Shlain starts to reach into a bit of mysticism with claims that da Vinci had ESP in the form of “remote viewing,” which diminishes the quality of the book (hence four instead of five stars). Shlain’s writing style is very readable and touches on many additional topics, which is sure to fire the imagination of the reader and encourage further reading about the unique genius that was Leonardo da Vinci.

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