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Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by…
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Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human (2009)

by Richard Wrangham

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482None21,307 (3.93)12
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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Ever since Darwin and The Descent of Man, the existence of humans has been attributed to our intelligence and adaptability. But in Catching Fire, renowned primatologist Richard Wrangham presents a startling alternative: our evolutionary success is the result of cooking. In a groundbreaking theory of our origins, Wrangham shows that the shift from raw to cooked foods was the key factor in human evolution. When our ancestors adapted to using fire, humanity began. Once our hominid ancestors began cooking their food, the human digestive tract shrank and the brain grew. Time once spent chewing tough raw food could be sued instead to hunt and to tend camp. Cooking became the basis for pair bonding and marriage, created the household, and even led to a sexual division of labor. Tracing the contemporary implications of our ancestors’ diets, Catching Fire sheds new light on how we came to be the social, intelligent, and sexual species we are today. A pathbreaking new theory of human evolution, Catching Fire will provoke controversy and fascinate anyone interested in our ancient origins—or in our modern eating habits. ( )
  MarkBeronte | Mar 4, 2014 |
OK, forget the raw food movement. This book presents an interesting theory that a breakthrough moment in human evolution was when man began cooking his food. Cooking the food allowed more calories to be absorbed, changing the shape of primates from having large digestive tracts to large brains. Although the book is very technical, it is presented in a way such that people without a background in biology or anthropology can easily understand. I especially enjoyed the chapters on how social roles developed - males hunting and females cooking. Very informative! ( )
  jmoncton | Jun 3, 2013 |
Excellent overview of the importance of food in human evolution. While not 100% persuasive--I think that an uncooked diet based on sashimi would be quite palatable--Wrangham presents a research-based thesis full of new (for me) ideas. Nearly a third of the book is given over to footnotes and bibliography, so while the book is written for a general audience, the curious or academic reader can delve into the professional literature. ( )
  IreneF | May 9, 2013 |
another of those 3.5 stars - I liked the book but sometimes the science was too much. I believe the ending suggested having someone cook for me daily! ( )
  lindap69 | Apr 5, 2013 |
This is a very interesting theory. I was not totally convinced by the latter section of the book which provides an explanation for why cooking became a female role, and why this inevitably meant subservience to men. However, Wrangham is on the whole very persuasive, especially in the link he makes between cooking and the evolution of a larger brain. ( )
  janglen | Nov 27, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
More of a discussion than a review, but some review commentary: In “Catching Fire” he has delivered a rare thing: a slim book — the text itself is a mere 207 pages — that contains serious science yet is related in direct, no-nonsense prose. It is toothsome, skillfully prepared brain food.
 
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Epigraph
[Fire] provides us warmth on cold nights; it is the means by which they prepare their food, for they eat nothing save a few fruits ... the Andamanese believe it is the possession of fire that makes human beings what they are and distinguishes them from animals. -- A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, The Andaman Islanders: A Study in Social Anthropology (epigraph to introduction, p.1)
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The question is old: Where do we come from?
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Although the australopithecines were far different from us, in the big scheme of things they lived not so long ago. Imagine going to a sporting event with sixty thousand seats around the stadium. You arrive early with your grandmother, and the two of you take the first seats. Next to your grandmother sits her grandmother, your great-great-grandmother. The stadium fills with the ghosts of preceding grandmothers. An hour later the seat next to you is occupied by the last to sit down, the ancestor of you all. ... She is your ancestor and an australopithecine, hardly a companion your grandmother can be expected to enjoy. She grabs an overhead beam and swings away over the crowd to steal some peanuts from a vendor. (Introduction, pp. 2-3)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0465013627, Hardcover)

Ever since Darwin and The Descent of Man, the existence of humans has been attributed to our intelligence and adaptability. But in Catching Fire, renowned primatologist Richard Wrangham presents a startling alternative: our evolutionary success is the result of cooking. In a groundbreaking theory of our origins, Wrangham shows that the shift from raw to cooked foods was the key factor in human evolution. When our ancestors adapted to using fire, humanity began. Once our hominid ancestors began cooking their food, the human digestive tract shrank and the brain grew. Time once spent chewing tough raw food could be sued instead to hunt and to tend camp. Cooking became the basis for pair bonding and marriage, created the household, and even led to a sexual division of labor. Tracing the contemporary implications of our ancestors’ diets, Catching Fire sheds new light on how we came to be the social, intelligent, and sexual species we are today. A pathbreaking new theory of human evolution, Catching Fire will provoke controversy and fascinate anyone interested in our ancient origins—or in our modern eating habits.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:06:36 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In this stunningly original book, renowned primatologist Richard Wrangham argues that "cooking" created the human race. At the heart of "Catching Fire" lies an explosive new idea: The habit of eating cooked rather than raw food permitted the digestive tract to shrink and the human brain to grow, helped structure human society, and created the male-female division of labor.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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