This is a book about what it feels like to be exceptional - and what it takes to get there. Why can some people achieve greatness when others can't, no matter how hard they try? What are the secrets of long life and happiness? Just how much potential does our species have?
In this inspirational book, New Scientist Managing Editor Rowan Hooper takes us on a tour of the peaks of human achievement. We sit down with some of the world's finest minds, from a Nobel-prize winning scientist to a double Booker-prize winning author; we meet people whose power of focus has been the difference between a world record and death; we learn from international opera stars; we go back in time with memory champions, and we explore the transcendent experience of ultrarunners. We meet people who have rebounded from near-death, those who have demonstrated exceptional bravery, and those who have found happiness in the most unexpected ways.
Drawing on interviews with a wide range of superhumans as well as those who study them, Hooper assesses the science of peak potential, reviewing the role of genetics alongside the famed 10,000 hours of practice.
For anyone who ever felt that they might be able to do something extraordinary in life, for those who simply want to succeed, and for anyone interested in incredible human stories, Superhuman
is a must-read. At one level this is science writing as freak show: Hooper tracks down people who run insane distances (seven consecutive marathons, for instance, at roughly three hours per marathon), remain unimaginably alert (from F1 drivers to Zen monks), memorise pi to umpteen places, and so on. But underneath the highly entertaining cor blimeys he is investigating something serious and timely: the controversial relationship between genes and environment, and the physiological, intellectual, genetic and ethical limits of being human -- James McConnachie * Sunday Times * Haven't read a book so simultaneously inspiring and geekily fascinating in ages -- Emma Hooper, author of Our Homesick Songs and Etta and Otto and Russell and James In this highly readable and well-researched book, Rowan Hooper, an evolutionary biologist by training, sets out to "demystify people at the extremes" of everything from intelligence to running to sleeping. As promoted in a recent spate of popular books, one appealing account of success says that all that really distinguishes highly accomplished people from the rest of us is the environment: having the opportunity and resources to pursue a dream. Nurture certainly does play