In the autumn of 1502 three giants of the Renaissance period - Cesare Borgia, Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolò Machiavelli - set out on one of the most treacherous military campaigns of the period. Cesare Borgia was a ferocious military leader whose name was synonymous with brutality and whose reputation was marred with the suspicion of incest. Niccolò Machiavelli was a witty and subversive intellectual, more suited to the silken diplomacy of royal courts than the sodden encampments of a military campaign. And Leonardo da Vinci was a visionary master and the most talented military engineer in Italy. What led him to work for the monstrous Borgia? And what attracted him to the cunning Machiavelli?
In his extraordinary new book acclaimed historian Paul Strathern ingeniously focuses on this improbable collusion of three iconic figures of the Italian Renaissance to unite three mighty strands of the period - war, politics and art. As each man's life unfolds, so does the Italian Renaissance.
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A brilliant snapshot of Renaissance Italy... a triumph - Sunday Telegraph
This is popular history at its narrative best... rich in colour, character and consequence - The Times
This is a portrait of a fascinating trio, and an insight into the apparent paradox of why such turbulent times produced such an outpouring of human sentiment almost unparalleled in the history of the West - Sunday Times
The story he has to tell is exciting and revealing...and the narrative has a natural arc, beginning in hope and fear and climaxing in deceit and bloodshed - Guardian
Strathern deftly interweaves the narratives of his three main characters and successfully evokes their odyssey... he has a sensitive ear for memorable phrases and a keen eye for striking detail - Independent on Sunday
A lucid an highly readable history displaying and enjoyable flair for the salacious - Sunday Telegraph
The fascinating story of the brief collusion of these three famous men is told with craft and brio - Irish Times
Paul Strathern studied philosophy at Trinity College, Dublin. He has lectured in philosophy and mathematics. He is a Somerset Maugham Prize-winning novelist; author of two series of books - Philosophers in 90 Minutes and The Big Idea: Scientists who Changed the World; Mendeleyev's Dream (shortlisted for the Aventis Science Book Prize); Dr. Strangelove's Game: A History of Economic Genius, The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance;Death in Florence: The Medici, Savonarola and the Battle for the Soul of the Renaissance City and The Spirit of Venice.