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The Artist, the Philosopher, and the Warrior: The Intersecting Lives of Da Vinci, Machiavelli, and Borgia and the World They Shaped Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 29, 2009
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The Renaissance was a child of many fathers--none more important than the three iconic figures whose intersecting lives provide the basis for this astonishing work of narrative history: Leonardo Da Vinci, Niccolo Machiavelli and Cesar Borgia. Each could not have been more different. They would meet only for a short time in 1502 but the events that transpired, would significantly alter their perceptions--and the course of Western history.
In 1502, Italy was riven by conflict, with the city of Florence as the ultimate prize. Machiavelli, the consummate political manipulator, attempted to placate the savage Borgia by volunteering the services of Da Vinci as Borgia’s chief military engineer. That autumn, the three men embarked together on a brief, perilous, and fateful journey through the mountains, remote villages and hill towns of the Italian Romagna--the details of which were revealed in Machiavelli’s often-daily dispatches and Da Vinci’s meticulous notebooks.
In a book that is at once a gripping adventure story and a trenchant analysis of how men make history, The Artist, the Philosopher and the Warrior limns each man’s personality, their interactions, and the forces that shaped their world. Superbly written, meticulously researched, here is a work of narrative genius--whose subject is the very nature of genius itself.
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From Publishers Weekly
Despite the convoluted title, this latest from award-winning British novelist and historian Strathern (Napoleon in Italy) is simply a good, straightforward history of Renaissance Italy during the turbulent decade around 1500, with emphasis on several important players. Pope Alexander VI, though not in the title, is the central player. Famously corrupt and ambitious, Alexander aimed to enlarge the Papal States and his family's influence, and his son, Cesare Borgia, led papal armies in three cruelly successful campaigns. The leading diplomat of wealthy but feeble Florence, Machiavelli worked hard to fend off Borgia, but admired his brutal realism, portraying him as the ideal ruler in his classic, The Prince. Both men knew Leonardo da Vinci, and Borgia employed him as a military engineer. However, da Vinci exerted no political influence, so the author's digressions into his art and ingenious (but mostly unrealized) inventions stand apart from the narrative. Readers will reel at this meticulous popular account of Renaissance tyranny, corruption, injustice and atrocities. 8 pages of color illus., b&w illus., maps. (Sept. 29)
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Top Customer Reviews
Just could not get far after I read the next section as it is written in such a dry manner, could not keep my interest.
I originally bought this book prior to visiting Italy. However some of the other purchases I made at the same time were easier reading, and I couldn't get into this one. After watching a series on the Borgias on Netflix as well as seeing many of the places mentioned in the work, I finally read it. This is a good basic history of many of the major events and people of Florence during the high Renaissance, and if I return to Italy, I will read it again.
I have tried to read Machiavelli's The Prince a number of times and didn't find it all that engrossing. Now that I know more about the Borgias, I have a better context for understanding The Prince and plan to tackle it again.