In the tradition of Jared Diamond's million-copy-selling classic Guns, Germs, and Steel, a bold new synthesis of paleontology, archaeology, genetics, and anthropology that overturns misconceptions about race, war and peace, and human nature itself, answering an age-old question- What made humans so exceptional among all the species on Earth?
Agustin Fuentes,during more than two decades of research, has published more than one hundred academic articles and book chapters. He has chased monkeys, apes, and humans in the jungles and cities of Asia, the mountains of Morocco, and the streets of Gibraltar. He's explored the lives of our evolutionary ancestors and examined people's daily routines across the globe. He is a professor and the chair of the University of Notre Dame's Department of Anthropology and aNational GeographicExplorer. His perspectives and research have been covered inThe Atlantic,Scientific American, The Huffington Post,and on NPR. He lives in Indiana.
PRAISE FOR THE CREATIVE SPARK "Persuasive, entertaining,
informative... Fuentes has done a fine job of summarizing recent
research in anthropology and primatology... pointing to numerous
examples in which problems such as the finding of food, the
avoidance of predators, the transfer of information and the
manipulation of the physical environment are solved by way of
--Wall Street Journal
"The Creative Spark is strong on man's imaginative accomplishments and offers an important corrective to the skewed debate on human nature. A species that, uniquely, ponders its own exceptionality will surely be fascinated by it."
"Rather than focusing his explanation of human evolution on an increase in brain size or intelligence, Fuentes turns instead to creativity as a fundamental aspect of what it means to be human."
--Named one of the Great Anthropology And History Books Of 2017, Forbes "Fuentes presents his theories in a captivating narrative that feels like an intriguing mystery... To look up from The Creative Spark after finishing the last page is to see the world in new, complex ways. Fuentes's work adds depth to our reality and fosters a deep respect and appreciation for the many forms creativity takes."
"Harnessing the latest findings in evolution, biology, and archaeology [Fuentes] creates a new synthesis to show that the great drivers of human progress have been creativity and cooperation, and that many of the things we believe about ourselves, from religion to race, are wrong."
--NationalGeographic.com, Book Talk "Condensing a great deal of anthropological research, Fuentes shows how imaginative resourcefulness enabled a vulnerable species lacking fangs and claws to survive in a world of fierce predators... whether facing the current threat of armed conflict or pondering contemporary controversies surrounding gender and religion, Fuentes draws one imperative lesson from humankind's deep past: we survive as a species only so long as we continue to creatively innovate."
--Booklist "The diverse studies in creativity are good ones... encompassing everything from conflict resolution to learning how to use fire to cook--not just red meat, but fish and vegetables as well... an informative, readable introduction to recent scholarship on the anthropology of creativity."
--Kirkus Reviews "Creativity is an essential reason why Homo sapiens have progressed to the point we have: dominating an entire planet and eagerly searching the universe, argues anthropologist Fuentes... His thesis is an intriguing and insightful one."
--Library Journal "A revolutionary perspective on what it means to be human. Fuentes breathes new life into one of our oldest questions. So much of what we think of as uniquely human has stagnated around a linear version of intelligence. Fuentes introduces imagination as a powerful force that has shaped who we are, and how we have become so successful. Thoughtfully researched and beautifully written, The Creative Spark is destined to become a classic."
--Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods, authors of New York Times bestseller The Genius of Dogs "In The Creative Spark, everything old and familiar - from livestock and tools, to marriage and war, and everything in between - is made fresh and new in this fascinating retelling of the story of humans' unique evolutionary journey. Grand in scope, but packed with detailed research and intimate prose, Fuentes once again gives us the precious gift of an accessible demolition of long-held assumptions, and a compelling, important, and revelatory understanding of ourselves."
--Cordelia Fine, Prof. of History & Philosophy of Science, University of Melbourne, author of Delusions of Gender "A magisterial tour of what makes us human, and how we got that way. Large and complex controversies are judiciously evaluated in a clearly written, fascinating way, and coherently assembled into a persuasive alternative to the simplistic biologisms that dominate contemporary discourse. This is the best guide I know on how the human world evolved, and a solid foundation for creative optimism."
--R. Brian Ferguson, Prof. of Anthropology, Rutgers University-Newark "A perfect example of our humanness. It combines individual creativity with a synthesis of the works of others to describe how the lives of humans and our ancestors were changed, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse, by harnessing and expanding creative abilities. Anyone who is curious about how we arrived at our present condition will want to read this book."
--Lynne Isbell, Prof. and Chair of Anthropology, U.C., Davis, author of The Fruit, the Tree, and the Serpent