Catching Fire by Richard Wrangham
How Cooking Made Us Human

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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.


About Richard Wrangham

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Richard Wranghamis the Ruth Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology at Harvard University and Curator of Primate Behavioral Biology at the Peabody Museum. He is the co-author ofDemonic Malesand co-editor ofChimpanzee Cultures. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Published May 26, 2009 by Basic Books. 322 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Nature & Wildlife, Cooking, Science & Math, Professional & Technical, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Searching the fossil record, Wrangham describes earlier hominids, pinpointing the cooking revolution at the appearance of our direct ancestor, Homo erectus, in Africa 1.8 million years ago.

Jun 01 2009 | Read Full Review of Catching Fire: How Cooking Ma...

The New York Times

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“Catching Fire” is a plain-spoken and thoroughly gripping scientific essay that presents nothing less than a new theory of human evolution.

May 27 2009 | Read Full Review of Catching Fire: How Cooking Ma...

The Guardian

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The uncooked diet is, even so, a help to slimmers (and those with obese dogs might persuade them to Barf – to eat biologically appropriate raw food – which is healthier than the boiled muck they are usually fed).

Oct 16 2009 | Read Full Review of Catching Fire: How Cooking Ma...

The Telegraph

But the character of the second change – from Homo habilis to the protohuman Homo erectus – has never been adequately explained, and Wrangham believes he has the answer: 1.8 million years ago, we learned to cook.

Oct 04 2009 | Read Full Review of Catching Fire: How Cooking Ma...

The Bookbag

All human communities cook, and the raw food faddist living now in developed western countries process their food with aid of blenders and mashers as well as usually eating at least some proportion of cooked food - which doesn't prevent the fact that an extraordinary one in two raw foodist women ...

Nov 08 2009 | Read Full Review of Catching Fire: How Cooking Ma...

he outlines the adaptability of human bodies to cooked food, and demonstrates beyond doubt that cooking increases the energy yield from all kinds of food.

Sep 23 2009 | Read Full Review of Catching Fire: How Cooking Ma...

Creative Loafing Tampa

Bookmark the food section of the blog, add the CL Food RSS feed to your reader of choice, follow @BrianRies on Twitter, or check out the Food Section page multiple times daily.)

Oct 27 2009 | Read Full Review of Catching Fire: How Cooking Ma...


The Dentons write in the intro, “We don’t like to be stuck in ruts as chefs, and we believe no home cook or host should suffer that fate either.” Every summer, grilling gets us out of our cold-weather cooking rut, and whether you’re grinding morcilla sausage from scratch or simply firing up a ste...

Mar 30 2016 | Read Full Review of Catching Fire: How Cooking Ma...

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