Catching Fire

Catching Fire

How Cooking Made Us Human

Book - 2009
Average Rating:
Rate this:

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 huntand 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.

Publisher: New York : Basic Books, c2009
ISBN: 9780465013623
Branch Call Number: ANF 394.12 WRA
Characteristics: 309 p. : ill. ; 22 cm
Alternative Title: How cooking made us human


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
May 27, 2019

For anyone with an interest in the development of who we are, this will be a very interesting book. It should be pretty well self evident that humanity, us humans, we’re always who we are today. So how did we come to be so re engineered it to our present form. We weren’t always this big. At one time our jars were larger. We had larger teeth, molars, to help us grind up what we were trying to eat. But over the millennia, all of this has changed. And The author suggest that all of this is the result of cookies and that the cooking is the result of fire. And there you have it. We are who we are because we eat what we eat which we cook because we cook because we have fire. This is interesting little book, and eye-opener perhaps with an extensive Collection of notes as well as a good bibliography tucked in nicely in the back of the book. Not for everyone; but a joy for those with an interest.

Jun 28, 2016

Although its a relatively short book, its packed full of information and explicated so clearly that one cannot misunderstand it. Makes it clear that it was cooking that was perhaps the most important influencing factor in the evolution of humans and of civilization. Lengthy explanatory notes section, and a long bibliography. Even one uninterested in the topic can be made interested in it with this book.

Mar 31, 2016

An interesting look at the premise that it was cooking that drove the change in Human evolution from our primate cousins. The book is well written and well researched. Well worth reading if you are interested.

LRS1969 May 07, 2015

Excellent book.

Based on archeological and anthropological research.

Develops one of the steps in the process of advancing a species of primate that eventually became human.

- Leaving the jungle environment where the primary food source was plant based by expanding out into the vast savannah grasslands.

- Switching to a diet that was very high in animal based foods (thereby providing for a major development in brain growth which allowed for higher thought processes AND providing much more energy than plant food equivalent which allowed more freedom of time for creativity).

- And developing the cooking of food (primarily animal based foods) which made the food more tasty, digestible, and bioavailabile thereby enhancing the advantages mentioned above.

Sep 12, 2011

A prefound new insight into evolution of humans and the precurser species. And it helps explain the inequlity in the division of labor between the two genders.

ser_library Mar 20, 2011

I have been recommending this book widely and look forward to discussing it with someone.

Feb 24, 2010

An excellent book.
Thought provoking and well written.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at VIRL

To Top