One testament to the pervasive nature of evolution is that so many varied groups, even ones in opposition to each other, found an endorsement in his work.    Proponents of eugenics, slavery and even Hitler could rationalize their views saying it was just evoluti0n while abolitionists saw just the opposite.

None of that was what Darwin had in mind, of course, and a new book by Darwin historians seeks to clarify  our understanding of Darwin's path to human evolution by restoring the moral core of Darwin's work, placing it in its lost historical context. The authors say that racial evolution is the key: Darwin abhorred slavery – his 'sacred cause' was abolition – and developed his theories to show that all races are united by descent.  Darwin's Sacred Cause: How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin's Views on Human Evolution by Adrian Desmond and James Moore provides an interesting  new explanation of how Darwin came to his views on human origins.

Through massive detective work among unpublished Darwin letters, unplumbed family correspondence and newly discovered Darwin reading lists, as well as diaries, ships' logs, and dozens of official documents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 claim that Darwin began his career committed to the unity of the human family.

 Imperial College London is having a 'book launch' on Monday 9 February 2009 at 6pm in the Great Hall on Imperial's South Kensington campus – see ticket details below.  The event will feature a talk by the authors, followed by a discussion session where members of the audience will be invited to put questions both to the authors. The debate will be chaired by Dr. Olivia Judson, an Imperial College research fellow and bestselling author of 'Dr Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation'. 

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

James Moore has many publications on Darwin and his age, including 'The Post-Darwinian Controversies' and 'The Darwin Legend'. He holds degrees in science, divinity and history, and a PhD from Manchester University on Victorian evolution and religion. Having taught at Cambridge, Harvard, Notre Dame and McMaster Universities, he is now Professor of the History of Science in the Open University.

Attendance at the event is by ticket only. Tickets are free and can be booked in advance by contacting Imperial’s events team on