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Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces

In Bookstores July 22, 2014 - Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces

Michelangelo Buonarroti was not only the most accomplished sculptor, painter, and architect in an age renowned for producing men of talent, but a genius who reinvented through his work and the example of his life the role of the artist. Difficult, irascible, egotistical, and unpredictable, he set out not only to fashion monuments of unsurpassed grandeur and emotional depth, but to transform the humble craftsman into a secular shaman, an oracle whose utterances touched the deepest chords of the human spirit.

In MICHELANGELO: A Life in Six Masterpieces (Simon and Schuster; July 22, 2014; $29.95), Miles J. Unger takes readers on a tour of Renaissance Florence and Rome as he narrates the life of the artist through six of his greatest masterpieces: the Pieta; the David; the Sistine Ceiling; the Medici tombs; The Last Judgment; and the Basilica of St. Peter's. Throughout his career, Michelangelo clashed with his patrons--dukes, kings, and popes--accepting commissions from the great lords of Europe but following only the dictates of his own inscrutable muse.

Refusing to compromise his artistic integrity, he emancipated the artist from a slavish devotion to those who paid his salary. He gained a reputation for being demanding and difficult to control--he was even accused of fraud for accepting money for works he failed to complete--but patrons continued to vie for his favor, knowing their fame would rise with his. For all of Michelangelo's irascibility, his jealousy of rivals like Raphael and Da Vinci, and his insubordination, he was universally acknowledged the greatest artist in an age of giants. During his lifetime, a cult of personality grew up around the artist, a legacy that continues to this day whenever we regard a creative work as a form of self-expression, the unique creation of an unconventional mind providing previously unimaginable insights into the human condition. And after his death, even his minor works were treasured as holy relics, touched by his immortal genius.

Now in Stores - Machiavelli: A Biography

"This is a superb biography, of interest to anybody...trying to get along in the contemporary world." Read More
--USA Today

He is the most infamous and influential political writer of all time. His name has become synonymous with cynical scheming and the selfish pursuit of power. Niccolo Machiavelli, the Florentine diplomat and civil servant, is the father of political science. The Prince, his most notorious work, is a primer on how to acquire and retain power without regard to scruple or conscience. His Discourses offers a profound analysis of the workings of the civil state and a hard-headed assessment of human nature.

Machiavelli's philosophy was shaped by the tumultuous age in which he lived, an age of towering geniuses and brutal tyrants. He was on intimate terms with Leonardo and Michelangelo, and his first political mission was to spy on the fire-and- brimstone preacher Savonarola. As a diplomat, he matched wits with the corrupt and carnal Pope Alexander VI, and his son, the notorious Cesare Borgia whose violent career served as a model for The Prince. His insights were gleaned by studying up close men like Julius II, the "Warrior Pope" and his successor, the vacillating Clement VII, as well as two kings of France and the Holy Roman Emperor. Analyzing their successes and failures, Machiavelli developed his revolutionary approach to power politics.

Machiavelli: A Biography

Machiavelli was, above all, a student of human nature. In The Prince he wrote a practical guide to the aspiring politician that is based on the world as it is, not as it should be. He has been called cold and calculating, cynical and immoral. In reality, argues biographer Miles Unger, he was a deeply humane writer whose controversial theories were a response to the violence and corruption he saw around him. He was a psychologist with acute insight into human nature centuries before Freud. A brilliant and witty writer, he was not only a political theorist but also a poet and the author of La Mandragola, the greatest comedy of the Italian Renaissance. He has been called the first modern man, unafraid to contemplate a world without God. Rising from modest beginnings on the strength of his own talents, he was able to see through the piety and hypocrisy of the age in which he lived.

Miles Unger has relied on original Italian sources as well as his own deep knowledge of Florence in writing this fascinating and authoritative account of a genius whose work remains as relevant today as when he wrote it.

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Previously Published

Magnifico: The Brilliant Life and Violent Times of Lorenzo de' Medici
Magnifico: The Brilliant Life and Violent Times of Lorenzo de' Medici
The Watercolors of Winslow Homer
The Watercolors of Winslow Homer

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