Yo-Yo Ma’s ear for music emerged not long after he learned to walk. By the age of seven, he was performing for President Kennedy; by fifteen he debuted at Carnegie Hall. Maya Angelou, by contrast, didn't write her iconic memoir, I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings, until she was 40. What propels some individuals to reach extraordinary creative heights in the earliest years of life while others discover their passions decades later? Are prodigies imbued with innate talent? How often are midlife inspirations triggered by propitious events, like Julia Child's first French meal at the age of 36? Do late bloomers reveal their talents because their skills require life experience and contemplation?
Through engaging storytelling and intriguing historical and cutting-edge scientific research, best-selling author and acclaimed journalist Claudia Kalb explores these questions to uncover what makes a prodigy and what drives a late bloomer. In this series of linked biographies, Kalb follows the journeys of thirteen remarkable individuals--from Shirley Temple to Alexander Fleming to Eleanor Roosevelt to Bill Gates--to discover the secrets behind their talents. Each possessed a unique arc of inspiration. Each--through science, art, music, theater, and politics--reached extraordinary success at different stages of life. And each offers us a chance to explore the genesis--and experience--of genius.
About the Author
CLAUDIA KALB is an award-winning author and journalist who reports on a wide variety of health and science topics. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History's Great Personalities. A former senior writer at Newsweek who has also contributed to Smithsonian and Scientific American, Kalb has written cover stories for National Geographic that explore genius through the lens of biography, history, culture, and science. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia. Twitter: @ClaudiaKalb. www.claudiakalb.com
"Kalb, author of the best seller Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder, brings her award-winning journalistic talent to cover the topic of genius. In Spark, she profiles 12 renowned lives, each of them gifted with intelligence, curiosity, creativity, perseverance, and luck. Intriguingly, the book is organized by the time in the subjects' lives in which genius first stood out.”—Library Journal, starred review
“Spark is an intelligent, condensed history of humanity. In a book that constantly surprises and delights, Claudia Kalb studies brilliantly the origin and nature of creativity--from innate abilities to environmental influences--to provide an overall picture of this fascinating area.”—Diana Widmaier Picasso, art historian and granddaughter of Pablo Picasso
“Claudia Kalb is a masterful storyteller who weaves science with biography to reveal new insights into how passion and purpose emerge. Rigorously and thoroughly readable, Spark is both captivating and enlightening.”—Richard Kogan, concert pianist and psychiatrist, Weill Cornell Medical College
“With insight and fluidity, the great Claudia Kalb plumbs the dimensions and dynamics of genius in a sparkling book that illuminates and inspires. This is a wonderful achievement.”—Jon Meacham, historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer