Darwin's Sacred Cause, By Adrian Desmond & James Moore

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The Independent Culture

Of all the scores of books that greeted Darwin's double anniversary last year, none matters more than this. Desmond and Moore, already their hero's biographers, now in this triumph of re-interpretation plant the hatred of slavery - and of the science that sought to justify it - at the heart of Darwin's career.

Born into the Abolitionist vanguard, the scientist saw slavery in vicious action during his Beagle voyages and ever after linked his loathing of it with the quest to trace the evolution of an undivided human species.

Plenty of rich detail rightly partners the account of controversies between Darwin's "common descent" and the racist advocacy of separate human development. But we never for a page lose sight of the "caring, compassionate man who was affected for life by the screams of a tortured slave".