cover image Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci

Walter Isaacson, read by Alfred Molina. S&S Audio, , unabridged, 14 CDs, 17 hrs., $49.99 ISBN 978-1-5082-4198-0

Screen, television, and stage actor Molina (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Not Without My Daughter), elegantly narrates Isaacson’s sweeping biography of Leonardo da Vinci. Molina effortlessly navigates Italian place names and surnames, and there is a sharp intelligence throughout his performance, as he joins Isaacson in peeling back the layers of a man whose surviving notebooks are crammed with fantastic designs but only contain tantalizing hints of a personal life. Isaacson manages to piece together chronologically the artist’s life from his apprenticeship at age 14 in Florence under Andrea del Verrochio to his death in France in 1519, focusing primarily on his evolution as an artist. Isaacson reads the foreword and the conclusion, in which he ruminates on the legacy of an artist whose trail of unfinished projects vastly outnumbers his completed works. The only hiccup in this excellent audio production is that the nearly 150 illustrations mentioned throughout are available in PDF form but are not easily accessible for those listening on the go. Still, it’s a great performance by Molina and a pleasure to listen to. A Simon & Schuster hardcover. (Oct.)