Summary of Powers of Two

Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs

Houghton Mifflin, more...

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Powers of Two book summary
Pairs often produce the greatest creative work.


7 Overall

7 Applicability

8 Innovation

7 Style


Historians and the media usually give credit for humankind’s greatest achievements to lone geniuses working in isolation. These solitary giants are supposedly the ones who produce the most important art, music and inventions. Essayist Joshua Wolf Shenk challenges that notion. He cites many examples of successful pairings, including frequent mentions of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, that show the complexities that even supportive pairs can face. Lopsided relationships such as Emily Dickinson and her muses demonstrate that to some degree, everyone relies on someone else. Shenk’s insights can help you choose the right business or personal partner and improve your relationships. getAbstract recommends Shenk’s treatment to those who wish to dive into the dynamics of two-person partnerships. Hard-core Beatles fans will also enjoy his analysis.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why a partnership might offer excellent support for your creative efforts and
  • What traits famous pairs of creative achievers shared.


The Lone Genius
Since the Enlightenment, the dominant narrative surrounding creativity has championed the lone genius. In reality, little of value comes from solo efforts. Most creativity occurs when people work in pairs. Even when a creator appears to produce a masterpiece alone, his ...
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About the Author

Essayist Joshua Wolf Shenk is writer-in-residence at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

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