Adrian Desmond

Darwin's Sacred Cause
  • Darwin's Sacred Cause

  • In this remarkable book Adrian Desmond and James Moore, world authorities on Darwin, give a completely new explanation of how Darwin came to his famous view of evolution, which traced all life to an ancient common ancestor. Darwin was committed to the abolition of slavery, in part because of his family's deeply held beliefs. It was his 'Sacred Cause' and at its core lay a belief in human racial unity. Desmond and Moore show how he extended to all life the idea of human brotherhood held by those who fought to abolish slavery, so developing our modern view of evolution.

    Desmond and Moore argue that only by understanding Darwin's Christian abolitionist inheritance can we shed new light on the perplexing mix of personal drive, public hesitancy and scientific radicalism that led him finally in 1871 to publish The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. The result is an epoch-making study of this eminent Victorian.

Adrian Desmond studied at London University and Harvard, has higher degrees in vertebrate palaeontology and the history of science, and a Ph.D. for his work on Victorian evolution. He is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Biology Department at University College London. Adrian Desmond's bestselling Darwin (Penguin, 1992, written with James Moore), won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in Britain, the Grand Comisso Prize in Italy and the Watson Davis Prize from the History of Science Society in America. In 1997 the British Society for the History of Science awarded it the first Dingle Prize for the best book of the decade in communicating the history of science to a wide audience. His study of the pre-Darwinian generation, The Politics of Evolution (1989), received the Pfizer Award from the History of Science Society. He has also published The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs (1975), The Ape's Reflexion (1979) and Archetypes and Ancestors (1982). In 1993 the Society for the History of Natural History awarded him its Founders' Medal. James Moore is a reader in history of science and technology at the Open University.

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