WEIT and Darwin’s Sacred Cause reviewed in Washington Post

February 15, 2009 • 7:49 am

Yesterday’s Washington Post reviewed my book together with Adrian Desmond and James Moore’s new book, Darwin’s Sacred Cause: How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin’s Views on Human Evolution. An o.k. review for me, though the “too textbooky” comment stung a bit. More important, it described Desmond and Moore’s book in detail, and in a way that will make us all want to read it. Darwin’s Sacred Cause apparently rests on the authors’ thesis that Darwin’s writings on evolution, including The Origin, were part of a detailed plan to demolish slavery by proving the common ancestry of all races. This idea, which is certainly novel, is said to be supported by detailed scholarly research (those who have read the authors’ earlier biography of Darwin—and every Darwin fan should—know how thorough these authors are and how well they write). Clearly this is a must-read book for all of us.

A footnote:  although Desmond and Moore’s Darwin biography is great, I give the edge to Janet Browne’s two-volume work (link is to second volume) as the best among Darwin biographies. It is magisterial and engagingly written.

3 thoughts on “WEIT and Darwin’s Sacred Cause reviewed in Washington Post

  1. I picked up your book today, and my reading of the first 30 or so pages didn’t come across as too textbook-y, at least not to me. But I’m a dumb hick from Texas, what do I know about textbooks?

    Seriously, what mass-market science book doesn’t have some textbook elements to it? Science writers have to explain some things in the simplest terms possible for those without the necessary background in the material, but in a way that doesn’t insult the more intelligent laymen. It’s a tricky tightrope to traverse, but it can be done.

    I think you did a decent job with explaining the principles of evolution. Although it covered a lot of familiar ground for me, it did have some deeper information that helped me understand some things better.

    I look forward to the rest of the book. 🙂

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