“Darwin’s Sacred Quest” Book Review
Adrian Desmond devotes about 470 pages to revealing what he believes is the secret truth to Darwin’s motivations for creating his theories of evolution and natural selection. While his theory that abolitionist tendencies and an inner moral compass that swings heavily toward black and white equality is what actually drove Darwin’s scientific work may be a large part of Darwin’s thought process, I don’t think Desmond gives enough credit to other facets of Darwin’s personality or moral upbringing. The entire book is well thought out, and shows Desmond’s evident extensive research into Darwin’s letters, his relatives’ writing, and other anecdotes regarding Darwin’s life. Also, Desmond’s ability to link Darwin to even the tiniest encounters or parallel paths to other abolitionists or even pro-slavery campaigners that may have challenged his beliefs is commendable. The book is essentially one giant anecdotal reference, which relies on name dropping and Desmond’s fantastic skills as a Darwin biographer. While the idea of Darwin as an abolitionist is interesting and probably worth fleshing out, this book might go well paired with a more traditional and less experimental viewpoint as a foil to its tome-size researching.