Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas Of Leonardo da Vinci

Gene Barretta

Henry Holt, 2009



Leonardo da Vinci painted two of the most famous paintings in the world, the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, and many more as well. He didn’t spend all his time at the easel, however. In addition to being a musician, botanist, ornithologist, and cartographer (to name just a few of his many skills), Leonardo was an engineer.

In Neo Leo, Gene Barretta  describes many of the inventions we take for granted today — airplanes, bicycles, contact lenses, even the automobile – and then shows how designs and sketches for similar inventions were in Leonardo’s notebooks, written over 500 years ago. Most of Leonardo’s designs were never built and tested. But many very similar inventions were eventually designed and built by others.

Neo Leo with its funky illustrations and clear descriptions makes it fun to see how Leonardo’s notebooks anticipated the work of modern engineers and inventors.