Hooper examines people who exhibit extraordinary abilities in several categories, including intelligence, longevity, bravery, and many other dimensions. I found the treatment to be superficial, mostly anecdotes about some unusual individuals and what they attribute their own abilities to. He delves into the science, but it seems the science doesn’t really answer the main question that is the theme of the book: what makes these people so “superhuman?” For some of the dimensions, there is a clear genetic explanation at least to an extent. Intelligence and musical ability fall into that category, although genetics are only part of the explanation. The author never really resolves anything. The book has the feel of an assignment from his agent or publisher. I can’t live on my royalties from my last one, so what should I write about next? I know, “superhumans” sounds cool.
Once I realized that this isn’t a school assignment and I don’t have to read all of it, I began skipping around and reading about just the extreme abilities that interested me. He has them neatly organized into chapters. I began enjoying the book much more after that. It was like reading a few articles from a magazine. There are some interesting tidbits among the filler.