Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human (Anglais) CD – Livre audio, 9 avril 2013
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Descriptions du produit
Revue de presse
makes a convincing case for the importance of cooking in the human diet, finding a connection between our need to eat cooked food in order to survive and our preference for soft foods. The popularity of Wonderbread, the digestion of actual lumps of meat, and the dangers of indulging our taste buds all feature in this expository romp through our gustatory evolution.”
The New York Times
Catching Fire' is a plain-spoken and thoroughly gripping scientific essay that presents nothing less than a new theory of human evolution...one that Darwin (among others) simply missed.”
Brilliant a fantastically weird way of looking at evolutionary change.”
The San Francisco Chronicle
As new angles go, it's pretty much unbeatable.”
The Washington Post
Wrangham draws together previous studies and theories from disciplines as diverse as anthropology, biology, chemistry, sociology and literature into a cogent and compelling argument.”
Wrangham's attention to the most subtle of behaviors keeps the reader enrapt a compelling picture, and one that I now contemplate every time I turn on my stove."
[A] fascinating study.... Wrangham's lucid, accessible treatise ranges across nutritional science, Paleontology and studies of ape behavior and hunter-gatherer societies; the result is a tour de force of natural history and a profound analysis of cooking's role in daily life.”
An innovative argument that cooked food led to the rise of modern Homo sapiens.... Experts will debate Wrangham's thesis, but most readers will be convinced by this lucid, simulating foray into popular anthropology.”
The Harvard Brain
With clear and engaging prose, Catching Fire addresses a key and enduring scientific issue central to the quest to understand our species. It offers new insights for anyone interested in human evolution, history, anthropology, nutrition, and for everyone interested in food."
Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University
In this thoroughly researched and marvelously well written book, Richard Wrangham has convincingly supplied a missing piece in the evolutionary origin of humanity.”
Matt Ridley, author of Genome and The Agile Gene
Cooking completely transformed the human race, allowing us to live on the ground, develop bigger brains and smaller mouths, and invent specialized sex roles. This notion is surprising, fresh and, in the hands of Richard Wrangham, utterly persuasive. He brings to bear evidence from chimpanzees, fossils, food labs, and dieticians. Big, new ideas do not come along often in evolution these days, but this is one.”
Steven Raichlen, author of The Barbecue Bible and How to Grill; host of Primal Grill
A book of startling originality and breathtaking erudition. Drawing on disciplines as diverse as anthropology, sociology, biology, chemistry, physics, literature, nutrition, and cooking, Richard Wrangham addresses two simple but very profound questions: How did we evolve from Australopithecus to Homo sapiens, and what makes us human? The answer can be found at your barbecue grill and I dare say it will surprise you.”
Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma
Catching Fire is convincing in argument and impressive in its explanatory power. A rich and important book.”
--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .
Présentation de l'éditeur
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.
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Meilleurs commentaires des clients
A must read for anyone interested in primatology or anthropology.
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Drawing on a number of food studies, ethnographic data, as well as his own primatological research, Dr. Wrangham argues that the transition from Homo habilis to Homo erectus would be impossible without a regular supply of cooked food. Citing the general unpalatability and undigestibility of a chimp's diet for modern humans, the seeming energy deficit seen in raw food proponents, the chemical changes that occur in foods that are cooked and the subsequent absorption of the unlocked calories, and the increasing reduction of our early ancestors' gastrointestinal tract through the millennia, he is convinced that the utilization of fire for cooking has its origins much farther in the past than the current evidence from the archaeological record tells us. The discrepancy between the archaeological record and his claim is around 1 million years, an incredibly large gap to bridge. In the latter third of the book, Wrangham makes the tangential argument that cooking is also what spurred our cultural evolution, e.g., concepts such as pair-bonding and the sexual division of labor, through the creation of a sort of "protection racket" that guards women from food thieves and ensures men a ready supply of food.
While I did enjoy reading Dr. Wrangham's book and readily admit that he makes some interesting and valid points, I am not convinced of the veracity of his hypothesis, especially in the light of more recent research on the variability and actions of the microbiome present in the digestive tracts of animals. In presenting his case for the need of cooked food for an increased energy supply in late habilines/early erectus, he ignores the fact that much of the successive change in the musculoskeletal morphology leading to our species had the effect of allowing us to conserve energy through increased efficiency of movement.
This does not necessarily mean that Dr. Wrangham is incorrect. However, the gaps in his arguments, coupled with the gaps in our own knowledge, have effectively rendered the cooking hypothesis unfalsifiable. There very well may come a time when the available physical evidence supports his position, but for now the only appropriate response is one of interest, skepticism, and further research.
Put briefly that major points of his argument are as follows. The emergence of humans in their modern form (still an imperfect work in progress. in my humble opinion) requires that we explain a couple of tricky things. One is the physiological changes that separate us from earlier species of hominid and from other primates. Another thing to be explained is the set of cultural changes. The thread Wrangham traces has to do with cooking as a central nexus.
Unfortunately, campfires do not fossilize well, so it is kind of hard to get comprehensive evidence. On the other hand, Wrangham cites good circumstantial evidence that the human mastery of fire (and with it cooking) started during the time of homo erectus, about 1.9 million years ago. One of the things that cooking does as increase the availability of nutrients in food. (It also makes it taste better). The connection Wrangham draws is enabled a process where are guts got smaller and our brains got bigger. The two are connected because the energy to power a bigger brain had to come from somewhere and most of the other organs in the body just could not be cut back by much. Cooking also has an inherent social component (or at least it did until we decided to outsource it to corporations), That provides a hook for the argument of cultural changes.
While anthropology is a science, it is a social science. I doubt it will ever be a science in the same sense as physics. Any argument like Wrangham's will always be vulnerable to the Gouldian argument of providing a "just so story." That said Wrangham provides us with a well researched argument and an extremely well written and interesting book. Strongly recommended.
Here's the way I now see it. First of all you have a two-step jump between the last of the Australopithecines and the first Homo Erectus. That intermediate creature was Homo Habilis, originally thought to be the first toolmaker. Now, however, the thought is that Homo Habilis was also the first to make the jump to eating meat, and the additional energy gained from doing that enabled his brain to grow. His meat-eating was only supplemental to his plant eating and root eating at first, and he continued to be highly reliant on living in trees and sleeping in trees for safety. Therefore his body didn't change much and he still looked like an ape. But as time went on, with his bigger brain, he eventually figured out how to crudely process meat by hammering it and beating it and ultimately he may have stumbled into a primitive form of controlling fire, sort of a la Quest for Fire. As he got better and better with controlling fire, that enabled him to come down from out of the trees, lose his body hair, lose his tree climbing anatomy, and proceed with developing his lower body for long distance travel and better and better hunting abilities. The result was Homo Erectus.
Incidentally, the author speculates that it was a climate change that drove this change in the first place. The original Australopithecus actually went extinct because of climate change and was replaced by other versions of Australopithecus, one which excelled on serious plant and root eating in a changed environment (the Robustus) and the other which developed an alternative source of energy by eating meat in addition to what plant food could be found, and this resulted in Homo Habilis. You can see, this is the kind of speculation that made me uncomfortable on my first reading but now I think it is the only way to build a hypothesis with this distant pre-archaeological finding era.
So, by the time Homo Erectus had fully emerged the stage was set, so to speak. The body that we have today, below the neck, was in place with very little change over the next 2 million years. From then on it was mainly a matter of increasing brain size and that enabled the endless fine-tuning and improvement of evolution over time. Control of fire came first, but cooking was integral to all of the cultural adaptations that came later. An argument can be made for the whole structure of hunter-gatherer society and the role of men and women as being an outgrowth of our reliance on cooking.
These evolutionary changes from Australopithecus, through Homo Habilis, through Homo Erectus, and finally to Homo Sapiens are among the largest changes in the shortest period of time ever noted for any species. They all are driven by the discovery of better and better sources of food energy, for our physical engine, and by related cultural adaptations that helped us reproduce and survive. Only recently have we run into a problem where the foods we have evolved to like are now being served up to us in excess and are being over-processed in addition. This is where the Paleo Diet is an attempt to get back on track. The author of this book doesn't go into that subject other than saying that we need to choose more real food and natural food.
One interesting side hypothesis the author makes, and he does it by relating our experience to other societies and other species, is the subservient role that women have been forced to take with respect to cooking and household chores. He speculates that eating cooked food has given us more free time in every day and the two sexes use that time differently. Men use it for additional hunting, if necessary, and that is good. But beyond that men don't take on any new chores, other than enjoyable things like hobbies and sports (in the modern era), with their free time. Women on the other hand have been forced to do the cooking and household work with their free time, and that situation is enforced and maintained by a patriarchal hierarchy that seems to be universal with all members of our genus. Enforced I guess because men are bigger and physically stronger than women (why is that?) There are many advantages to the division of labor between the sexes, including specialization and cooperation, and everyone benefits from this. But the fact remains that cooking and household work is considered a low status function and the male sex of our species has almost uniformly relegated this to females. Clearly this makes for some problems with the way our modern society has evolved, with women in the workplace. And this may all be changing going forward. I sense there is a lot of speculation about many of these new problems and situations, call them mismatches, from some of these books about evolutionary anthropology. No one knows for sure where we are headed except that some of these developments and trends are very new and clearly at odds with our evolutionary history.
Good book! Five star. Possibly requires two readings!
What does that mean? How has it affected our history as a species? What does cooking do to food and to us?
Dr. Wrangham lays it out with the best evidence we have from history, anthropolgy, archeology, biology, primatology and a little biochemistry. This isn't a "scientific detective story". It's a literature review expanded into book length with explanations for the intelligent layman and needs to be seen this way. The point of the exercise isn't to entertain, although it shouldn't bore the reader. It is to inform and give the general shape of a subject.
The book succeeds wonderfully at this. It lays out how cooking (profoundly) affected our evolution and our most basic social impulses.
The first and last thing it does is deal a few well-placed body blows to raw food fadism. Our relatives have mouths and jaws and digestion well adapted for raw food. We don't. Our tiny teeth, weak jaws, shortened guts and universal preference for easily-assimilated cooked foods represent important evolutionary trade-offs which allowed us to develop our large brains. Much, perhaps too much, evidence is given for this. But it turns out to be important. One of the things which distinguishes us from the other great apes is processing food with heat to make the nutrients more available.
What are the implications? They are shown to be profound from the institution of marriage to food sharing as one of the fundamental human social rituals. It's all clearly laid out and well-developed.
This is what Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality should have been but didn't quite live up to. It will change the way you think about everyday things.
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