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Spark: How Genius Ignites, From Child Prodigies to Late Bloomers Reviewed by Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
Norm Goldman --  bookpleasures.com Norm Goldman -- bookpleasures.com
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Montreal, QC
Tuesday, July 6, 2021


Author: Claudia Kalb

Publisher: NationalGeographic

ISBN: 978-1-4262-2093-7

Claudia Kalb is anaward-winning journalist and author of the New York Times bestsellerAndy Warhol Was a Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History’s GreatPersonalities. In her recent tome, Spark: How Genius Ignites,From Child Prodigies to Late Bloomers, she takes her readers on ajourney concerning thirteen outstanding personalities, Picasso,Shirley Temple, Yo-Yo Ma, Bill Gates, Isaac Newton, Sara Blakely,Julia Child, Maya Angelou, Alexander Fleming, Eleanor Roosevelt,Peter Mark Roget, Grandma Moses, and Leonardo da Vinci.

In her introduction, Kalbposes several compelling questions: What role do our personalitieshave on the lives we pursue? Are we born with specific skills, or arewe lured by our passions? How do we discover the spark that feeds oursouls, and how do we recognize we discovered it? What drives someindividuals to achieve incredible creative heights early in theirlives while others identify it decades later? With these queries inmind, Kalb sets out to explore the thirteen iconic figures, and herfindings are pretty remarkable.

The book’s chapters areorganized by the ages the genius ignites rather than by birth order.Beginning with Pablo Picasso, we learn that he amazingly communicatedwith pictures before he could speak! Shirley Temple was a box officesensation by the age of six.

Yo-Yo Ma began playing thecello at four under the guidance of his father and gave his firstpublic appearance in Paris a year later. At thirteen, Bill Gates wasintroduced to computers, and the rest is history.

At the other end, we haveGrandma Moses, the painter, who became known at seventy-seven. AsKalb points out, “her destiny was molded not by choice but bycircumstances.” She only picked up a paintbrush when she was in her70s when she began painting. As remarked, she is “thequintessential late bloomer, a woman whose singular career kicked offnot only belatedly but in the eighth decade of her life.”

Kalb informs her readersthat she examined these exceptional people through her journalisticlens, as she interviewed and reported on-site where feasible. Thiswas reinforced by her researching letters, memoirs, and biographies.And where available, she also communicated with family members ofthese historical personalities. She even drew on a conversation shehad with Ma for a magazine feature. She interviewed both Bill Gatesand the entrepreneur, Sara Blakely.

The hunt for answers toher questions turned out to be rather complicated, and there were nostraightforward answers. As mentioned, many books seek to explainhuman virtuosity. In the book, Kalb interprets the term with someelbow room. The contributions of some of these individuals may be sogigantic and sustaining that there no words or adjectives that couldprecisely describe them. For centuries philosophers have debated whatmakes up genius and how does it emerge. Is it a gift from the gods asPlato believed or as Aristotelian thinkers believed it wasbiological?

Kalb provides a treasureof background detail that provides fascinating information into thelives of these amazing people, and as she mentions, she hopes that“it will leave readers with a renewed intention to embrace theirown genius and offer it compassionately to others.”

 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

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