I received a free digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This is going to be pretty quick, because it became clear early on that there were lots of problems that still need to be ironed out in this one.
First, more editing. This reads like a college term paper at best and does not read as a professional author writing about easily the greatest polymath in history, his scores of interests, and unparalleled genius. Books posted to NetGalley are supposed to be decently close to a finished product, and I am hoping that this will see more editing before its August 31st publishing.
There are structural changes that would help the book flow better. Within chapters, information was further broken down into sometimes very short sections - for example, when discussing da Vinci's friends. This lead to the reading being very choppy and disjointed. This occurred in other chapters as well, such as that which explored (very surface-level only) da Vinci's own words on all manner of topics. I would much rather have seen his journals quoted than for the author to attempt to tell me what he thought or meant about any given subject.
We were given far more information than necessary about the Medicis, the Borgias, and the Templars even. I found the extra information about family members not needed. Really, the only figures necessary to talk about would be the ones da Vinci worked for. The author also addresses the issue of whether or not da Vinci was a Templar, and delved into The Da Vinci Code for a few pages.
The section on Freud analyzing da Vinci was super weird. I have said many times with historical figures that it is incredibly dangerous and also not really professional for someone from the modern era to attempt to diagnose or analyze someone so far removed from our world today. (Henry VIII is an excellent example, and everyone wants to to drop medical diagnoses on him and it doesn't matter, nor will we ever know for sure.) Plus, Freud is also dead, so any questions we might have about his thoughts/findings on da Vinci can't even be clarified.
There's a ton of repetition from section to section and chapter to chapter. There's also a lot of contradictions where there should not be, despite the fact that the author tells us eleventy bajillion times that da Vinci was a man of contradictions.
With major editing and polishing, I think this could be a decent contribution to texts on Leonardo da Vinci. At this time I can only recommend it with caution in this form as an ARC.