While much has been written upon Social Darwinism, the historical impact of Darwinism upon theories of war and human aggression has been sadly neglected. This book is the first to study this discourse in depth. It challenges the received view that Darwinism generated essentially aggressive and warlike social values and pugnacious images of humankind. Paul Crook reconstructs the influential discourse of 'peace biology', whose liberal vision was of a basically free humanity, not fettered by iron laws of biological necessity or governed by violent genes. By exploring a gamut of Darwinian readings of history and war, mainly in the English-speaking world to 1919, this study throws new light upon militarism, peace movements, the origins of World War I and British social thought.
"Crook substantiates a sophisticated argument with exhaustive research covering every major writer and most of the minor figures who contributed to the debate...an extremely useful and nuanced examination of the extent to which writers on the relationship between war and human progress labored to make Darwin's work support their views." Journal of Military History "In this valuable work, Paul Crook presents a comprehensive review of the debates over the biological causes and effects of war, stimulated by Darwinism, Mendelian genetics, and eugenics. ...a highly useful and informative work..." American Historical Review "...a superb study in the biological semantics of human conflict. Here 'Darwinism' not only stands for 'one of the great scientific revolutions of modern times', but it is also seen as a theoretical legacy..." James Moore, The Times Higher Education Supplement "The principal strength of Crook's book is the careful, comparative textual analysis that characterizes Crook's treatment of the ideas he examines...this is first rate, old fashioned, intellectual history, which means it is both readable and comprehensible...this is a book that adds so much to our understanding of the origins of controversial, modern sociobiological thought." Richard A. Soloway, Comptes rendus