True, I could have paid more attention to the title, or read the reviews carefully, but I thought this book was going to explain how cooking "grew up" over the ages. What it accounts...over and over and over again is the anthropology not so much of cooking in itself, but how cooking exists in primitive cultures. Interesting in one sense, but not at all what I was expecting. This book had promise it just couldn't deliver.
A must read for those interested in human evolution. Writing is a bit dry and repetative, but the punch line is intriguing.
Jumps on his bed while licking the bottom of one foot. He persists in this life affirming act despite interference from the head nurse.
Imagine a dry but appealing apple whose second half is spoiled. Dr. Wrangham once again ruins his work with terrible anti-male bias that no doubt sets well with the p.c. harpies at Harvard, where he is employed, but has been a thorn in this reader's side ever since buying his earlier book "Demonic Males." This text has eight chapters. The first five are well worth the listen as Wrangham is obviously quite intelligent, well read, well traveled and experienced. His credentials as a primatologist are outstanding. One sees him every once in a while on television, standing in a jungle, chewing on gorilla fodder, spitting it out and saying how bad it tastes. His idea that cooked food shortened the human gut, reduced human teeth, and enlarged the human brain, and therefore explains periods of major changes in human evolution, is an excellent insight. He writes in a terse manner, economical of words. His logic is generally well reasoned--although not always. If one reads carefully there are genuine non-sequiturs involving obtuse examples that have only vague connections to a subject under discussion, as well as post-hoc errors of logic which really don't prove anything. Dr. Wrangham also relies too much on examples to prove his points, ignoring others that don't. An argument based only on selected examples is faulty. By the second half of his book Wrangham moves much into speculation: "it might have been that" and "maybe" and "perhaps," etc. The second half is also repetitive; Wrangham made his points well in the first half of his book and should have quit there. Finally, the doc couldn't resist inserting two chapters full of misandrism, and by so doing throws his scientific objectivity out the window. Beginning in chapters six and seven ("How Cooking Frees Men" and "The Married Cook") the doc gets up to his old tricks of man-bashing. He should see another type of doctor, who would help him probe hidden childhood memories.
Fantasy and Romance Author
The author has some very interesting observations about the nutritional differences between raw food and cooked food, the adaption of the human mouth and digestive system to cooked food, and some provocative theories on how cooking influences gender-based roles and inequalities in society. It's certainly a thought-provoking work, even if I don't agree with some of the conclusions he's drawing from his evidence.
However, I am finding that the frequent repetition of facts and theories, coupled with the narrator's oddly-paced and rather wooden style, more than a little off-putting. The audiobook runs a bit less than seven hours, but at about six hours in, it feels like I've been listening to it a lot longer!
Thoroughly convincing that humans can not and could not survive without fire. Humans can not be human without it. Homo Habilis seems to have done all the heavy lifting in getting us from smart-ape to the modern form of human (at least from the neck down) about 2 million years ago. Homo Habilis seems to have started the stone age and learned to control fire and cook. What an accomplishment!
Next came Homo Erectus about 1.8 million years ago. If you put a Homo Erectus in a business suit and saw him on a bus in Manhattan, you might not look twice. From the neck down he would look completely normal. He'd be a little freakish looking from the neck up. But with a hat and sunglasses.... Behaviorally, however, he might be very unpredictable and dangerous. I digress.I feel I learned a great deal about humanity from this book. And the information contained here would be hard for a layman to obtain from any other source. It appears that the conclusions reached in this book have provoked some dischord by upending human development timelines from archeology. This new synthesis pushes the use of fire back about a million years. That's rocking the boat. How much fun is that!
Learning about expensive tissue theory, and the highlights of evolutionary digestion made listening to this most enjoyable.
The Origins of Political Order From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution by Francis Fukuyama
Kevin Pariseau has a "David Attenborough-like" narrative quality. He also nails some tribal pronunciations to great enjoyment.
The expensive tissue theory is the most interesting tidbit from this book.
I found this book to be a bit dry at points. Yet overall, I must admit it is rather illuminating. As a novice/outsider to evolutionary anthropology, I feel like it bridged a gap in understanding for me. Particularly, the thesis/thrust of the book linking how cooking with fire changed our ancestors diet patterns and then in turn their cognition and behavior. The expensive tissue theory with the reallocation of tissue from the gut to the brain is mind blowing. I would like to learn more about that from a biochemist's point of view. Also, towards the end, he goes into the current trends and studies surrounding nutrition and metabolism. I would be curious to learn more about contemporary studies akin to David Atwaters experiment, that could foster better nutrition labeling and hopefully curb the pandemic of obesity in America and abroad. Worth a read, but certainly worth a listen. Thanks Audible!
enlightening, insightful, thoughtful...
the dawn of the separative job assignments....
Nice rhythm and tone
Why we cook???
I live in Thailand, and love to listen to audible.
I loved this book! It will change everything you ever knew about cooking, men and women, evolution, nutrition, and life for us humans here on earth, compared to animals. It is shocking. A definite must read, great narration too! If you ever wanted to know why we are different from animals, this answers it. Listen and find out.
I found this book compelling in both ideas and ease of listening. The author provides a well-supported glimpse into the shaping of human culture, from brain and species evolution to gender roles. I had to laugh in agreement that, indeed, regardless of professional or business life, in the end, women are the cooks for men and family. Enlightening to hear a view as to why. This book has generated great conversation at our evening dinner table and continues to perk in my mind.