Aside from his commissions as a military architect designing fortifications and rethinking them in light of the recent invention of artillery, Leonardo did many drawings of rivers, including numerous surveys of the lower Arno of which some show a curious deliberate distortion of perspective best explained by assuming them to be devices to show changing flow. From this he imagines a friendship between the two that would explain Machiavelli's never mentioning Leonardo's name anywhere, and Leonardo's strong desire not to tarnish his reputation as military guru by being publicly associated with an expensive boondoggle.
While the thesis is tantalizing, Masters is neither a historian (he's a professor of government) or a storyteller. The book never extends its speculation, and the writing, while workmanlike, never inspires. A shame and a chance missed ... but then, so was the Pisan canal.