21 Jan 2009

Darwin's Sacred Cause: Race, Slavery and the quest for human origins

Darwin's Sacred Cause

Darwin's Sacred Cause

By Adrian Desmond and James Moore, authors of Darwin and Huxley, epic biographies of the founders of modern evolution. Published by Allen Lane, Thursday 29th January 2009.

This book will revolutionize our understanding of Darwin's path to human evolution.

New insights from fresh and untapped sources have driven Darwin scholars Desmond and Moore to re-think the basis of Darwin's theories. Darwin's Sacred Cause gives a completely new explanation of how Darwin came to his shattering views on human origins. Published for the worldwide Darwin celebrations of 2009, the bicentenary of his birth and the 150th anniversary of the Origin of Species, this book restores the moral core of Darwin's work by recovering its lost historical context.

Racial evolution is the key - how did the human races originate? Solve this problem and Darwin knew he could explain the origin of species. Apologists for slavery in his day argued that blacks and whites had been created separately, with whites superior. Darwin abhorred slavery (his 'sacred cause' was abolition) and developed his theories to show that all the races were united by descent, blacks and whites, animals and plants. Firing his factual research was a burning moral drive.

Pivotal to their transformed view of Darwin is Desmond and Moore's re-evaluation of his little-read and much misunderstood book, The Descent of Man. Here finally, after so much delay, he published his theory of racial evolution, which was founded on 'sexual selection'. Essential, too, is a re-evaluation of Darwin's abolitionist heritage, with its belief in the full humanity of the races.

Through massive detective work among unpublished Darwin letters, unplumbed family correspondence and newly discovered Darwin reading lists, as well as diaries, ships' logs, and dozens of official documents and rare contemporary works on race relations and humans origins, the authors back up their compelling claim: Darwin began his career committed to the unity of the human family; his science flowed from the greatest moral movement of his age.

Authors information:

ADRIAN DESMOND, co-author with James Moore of the seminal Darwin, has seven other books on evolution, including Huxley, a life of Darwin's 'bulldog'. He studied at Harvard and University College London, has higher degrees in vertebrate palaeontology and history of science, with a PhD for his work on Victorian evolution. He is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Biology Department at University College London.

JAMES MOORE has many publications on Darwin and his age, including The Post-Darwinian Controversies and The Darwin Legend. He has degrees in science, divinity and history, and a PhD from Manchester University for his work on Victorian evolution and religion. After teaching at Cambridge, Harvard, Notre Dame and McMaster Universities, he is Professor of the History of Science in The Open University.

James Moore will be participating in major festivals and symposia worldwide and across Britain to celebrate Charles Darwin's life and legacy.

DARWIN by Desmond and Moore won many awards, including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in Britain, the Comisso Grand Prize in Italy and the Watson Davis Prize from the History of Science Society in the United States and has been translated into eight other languages.

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