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The Creative Spark: How Imagination Made Humans Exceptional

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  192 ratings  ·  38 reviews
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?

Creativity. It is the secret of
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 21st 2017 by Dutton Books
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3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  192 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Dannii Elle
I received this in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. Thank you to the author, Agustin Fuentes, and the publisher, Dutton Books, for this opportunity.

This non-fiction details the history of humanity's creative spirit emerging in perhaps the most obvious and yet unforeseen of ways. This isn't concerned with the, so-called, creative geniuses, but with the everyday man and woman.

The earliest hunter-gatherers showed signs of this creative spark in their use of fire and the construction of
Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
This review and others can be found on BW Book Reviews.

Being a psychology major, you have to have a passing familiarity with evolution. Not just our old ancestors, but more than that. Knowing that you can track the progression of human brain growth and how/when skills might have been acquired by looking at the size of a skull. Then you can compare humans and apes, seeing what may or may not match up. How humans could have become the way they are.

Then, there's evolutionary psychology with how thi
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was a easy read for me as I was familiar with Jared Diamond's books, it was almost like reading a summary of every chapter in Guns, Germs and Steel with a tinge too much of moral justifications added.
Yenny Alvarez
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"La chispa creativa" es un libro de divulgación científica, combina cómodamente información de diversas ramas de las ciencias, tales como paleontología, arqueología, antropología biológica y social, química, entre otras. El análisis se centra especialmente en la creatividad humana y la cooperación, enfocando su papel en la evolución del género Homo y de nuestra propia especie, Homo sapiens sapiens. Excelente texto, transmite mucha información de forma agradable, fácil de leer, fácil de recordar; ...more
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
A deep and very well researched work on the importance of creativity from an anthropological point of view. Fuentes presents the “creative spark” as the element that differentiates us from other creatures and helped humans become the dominant species on Earth.
It is all incredibly interesting, alas; it’s presented in a very dry voice. I’m pretty sure that someone who actually studies Anthropology will find it riveting and will understand all the mentions of topic specific elements. I just read it
Alaia M.
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Creative Spark by Agustín Fuentes
Dutton and Random Penguin House, 2017, 340 pages

The Creative Spark is a fascinating book that tells the story of the evolution of our unique creativity that made our species the (arguably) great species we are today. Fuentes believes that the creativity used in a child’s finger painting is the same creativity that inspired early Homo to work together, make tools, hunt, and gather.
The book begins at the very beginning of our species, even before we
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
The author did a good job of discussing what anthropologists and evolutionary biologists know about the origins and development of creativity in humans. There are things we really don’t know and others we can have more confidence in based upon the evidence discovered. Some of these lines of evidence and the conclusions they reach can challenge traditional ideas about how we think of ourselves and how we became who we are. The emphasis on the amount of cooperation we needed to evolve both from bi ...more
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This wasn't the kind of book I was expecting, but it was a fascinating anthropological study on human creativity.
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un llibre molt llarg i molt ben documentat sobre com l'espècie humana és both el pitjor i el millor.
Samantha Magrini
Feb 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I’m sure for someone without a background in anthropology this would be an enlightening read. I will say that it’s positives are that it’s well written for the layman, and flows fairly effortlessly.
However, I feel that much of it is based on subjective information, rather than hard fact or data, and that when given the opportunities to really buckle down and provide some detailed insight on an area of focus, it is instead glossed over with caveats of ‘we may never know’.
Worth taking a look at,
Jun 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
This is an interesting book about the evolution of humans and the role of creativity in that process.

Here is a little of what is argued in the book.

Some animals have the capacity to use objects as tools. For example, chimpanzees can use lightly modified sticks, and unmodified stones. They learn this behavior from others. Early hominin species were making Oldowan tools around 2.5 million years ago. “Making and using stone tools involves much more information, collaboration, and creativity than
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I’m not sure why I picked up The Creative Spark: How Imagination Made Humans Exceptional by Agustin Fuentes, the chair of anthropology at the University of Norte Dame. It’s thick: 292 pages of text with 33 pages of aft notes. Fuentes’ thesis challenges the violence of humanity, the prominence of the “man the hunter, man the killer” theory of human development. Instead, he posits, it was collaboration, compassion, and community that caused humans- these “small, naked, fangless, hornless and clawl ...more
Tom Roth
Nov 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: evolution, science
I am still not sure whether I should give the book 3 or 4 stars. It is a really interesting read, but certainly not exceptional. The main idea of the book is that our ancestors created their own niche by being creative, and this creativity kept resulting in complex behaviors, such as the construction of stone tools, "domesticating" fire, and eventually complex ideas, such as religion.

While this is certainly an interesting theory, I feel the book tries to explain too much. For example, I really
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it
"Creativity is built on interconnections of ideas, experiences, and imagination. Whether in the physics lab, artist's studio, the mechanic's garage, or even figuring out how to make a small paycheck last until the end of the month, creativity is everywhere in the human experience. We are creative every day."

The present book is a work of non-fiction focusing on how primates evolve into creativeness. The book does not focus on known creative geniuses but, in fact, ordinary pre-homo sapiens hominid
Yip Jung Hon
Sep 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: reference
The main point of the book is that human creativity and ingenuity played, and continues to play, a colossal role in shaping our lives. However, I got tangled up in the mess of explanations that had little or nothing to do with the central argument -- such as the behaviors of other animals, fascinating as they may be. This book went off track many times! Furthermore, many explanations of how our behaviors evolved were highly theoretical, and while the explanations were theoretically plausible, it ...more
D.R. Oestreicher
Oct 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Many disciplines strive to answer questions like these: What makes humans unique? Why have they been so successful? Recent progress in evolutionary biology, anthropology, and other diverse fields have provided novel suggestions, but the answer remains as elusive as ever. However, the two-decade success of Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond has made such books a genre of their own. The Creative Spark by Agustin Fuentes is one of the latest entries putting forward the premise that creative co ...more
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2017
This was really solid, accessible, and interesting. I especially enjoyed the chapter on religion--it was definitely a new way for me to think about how religion (both early and the later evolution to the big three today) developed. The role of creativity, of wishing/hoping, in questioning how we came to be in this environment, really isn't an angle that I had considered, and that while god(s) may have been around since the beginning, we had to develop a certain amount before we could have that r ...more
Mike Putnam
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Overall, a solid introductory treatment of the notion of creativity/imagination and how it made humans exceptional in the further development of our species. One point that is a bit puzzling is the subtle lack of clarity in delimiting and distinguishing 'creativity' from 'imagination' proper. It's unclear if these two concepts are identical with one another or under which conditions they should be bifurcated. Aside from this point, the general guiding thesis provides a nuanced treatment on the e ...more
Laura Anne
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Anthropology is the interesting part - especially at how much is guess work.
The views about the how fast humans developed due to creative cooperation is fascinating and is directly applicable to the teaching profession. It would also, in my mind, be a warning for the increasing isolation of our children and their developing brains.
The author draws a lot of broad conclusions and eventually gives you a template to live by, which was odd.
Dec 03, 2018 rated it liked it
考古学家伊恩·库艾特(Ian Kuijt)和其他人认为,直到大约1万年前,随着农村和农业的出现,以及随之而来的日益强烈的人类对财产、身份和地位的感知,人的脸部开始在艺术中出现。

A. J.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 to 4 stars for a very thorough book dissecting myths and best guesses of the drivers of human (homo sapien sapien) evolution/"success." Fuentes goes through a myriad of ideas, data, educated guesses and tries to support his supposition that creativity is what separated us and led to our rapid selection as the sole hominid (who have taken over the planet like no animal before.)
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was intrigued by the subject of the evolution of the human's evolution of brain capabilities and how it affected the growth of our society. This book definitely delivered in covering and explaining the timeline. I learned a lot and had a good time reading this book. I would definitely suggest this book for those who are interested in this specific component of evolution.
A well researched Book on the importance of creativity from an anthropological point of view. Fuentes presents the “creative spark” as the element that differentiates us from other creatures and helped humans become the dominant species on Earth.

It does have a "textbook" feel to it, being on the "dry' side. Someone who actually studies Anthropology might have a different opinion though.
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This intriguing book vacillates between readable, riveting, research based insights to something more for a true scientific anthropologist, and then sways back into the amazing, powerful, insights for all message. I liked this book, but the writing style isn't for everybody.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Intriguing topic, was really hoping to love this book, however the best I can say is I liked it. The author constantly reviews each previous chapter throughout the current chapter. Get's a bit annoying.
Carmelo Valone
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
A pretty amazing book that breaks down not just the history of 'creativity as an artist,' but also that of how creative thinking, and problem solving has evolved within the confines of (mostly) humankind.
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Though sometimes losing steam in its denser, data-filled sections, this evolutionary history of creativity makes a fascinating argument for how ingenuity and collaboration took humans into the modern era – as well as potentially providing the way out of our present morass.
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Evolutionary and anthropological exploration of human creativity. A bit dry and didn’t want to invest time and energy to finish.
Camille A
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: essai, art
not awful but not worth the read
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: deep-knowledge
Highly recommended!!!
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