The subtitle of this important book says it all: What Makes Human Nature Unique. It has been faddish since at least Desmond Morris's The Naked Ape to assert that human beings are very little more than apes, indeed that we are just a "naked ape" only marginally different in behavior and abilities from our supposed cousin the chimpanzee. Books promoting this supposedly Darwinist view have drawn considerable attention and their authors have, as in the cases of Pinker and Dawkins, been promoted as popular public intellectuals. Staats sets himself the task of unseating this view and does so convincingly. He states that our view of human nature is the result of a Great Scientific Error, to wit, that Darwinists (and Darwin himself) make a fundamental error of assuming that because anatomical features are genetically determined, so too must be behaviorial features. As Pinker asserts in his famous book, even language is an instinct. But Staats shows that human nature is determined much more by learning than by inheritance, and that the extent of our abilities and achievements cannot be explained by genes alone or even very much.
I will mention just two of his major points. One is that our behaviors are so complex and diverse that it is impossible that they could be coded for in our genes--there are just too many behaviors and too few genes to account for each of them. In this regard, it is interesting to note that the human genome project showed that we have fewer genes than was traditionally believed: rather than 100,000 or so, we have only 30,000-40,000--less than many insects and far less than many plants. The other is that our bodily experience within our environment affects our behavior, and this is true for other animals as well. In the case of humans, Staats asks, are men more aggressive than women because they are hard-wired for aggression, or because, having bigger and stronger bodies, they can more easily get away with aggressive behavior? Staats investigation of what Francisco Varale calls "the embodied mind" in his book of that title (also available through Amazon)suggests that instinct is not a sufficient explanation.
If you are interested in the nature vs. nurture debate and have been seeking a source that counterbalances the current bias towards the naturist side, Staats' book is a thorough and accessible option.