It’s his merit that he has placed Darwin himself clearly in the foreground as originator of the debate on social evolution in the second half of the nineteenth century. Against this there is the drawback that Mr Hermans has not resisted the temptation to walk every side-road he encountered in his long trail of study. He needs quite a lot of space to both distinguish and connect all the diverse currents. (…) In spite of these critical remarks, in my final verdict appreciation for this clever piece of work of Mr Hermans takes precedence.
Jan Breman, Amsterdams Sociologisch Tijdschrift, 31 (2), 2004
… an excellent academic dissertation …
Guido Kindt, Het Medisch Weekblad, 12 February, 2004
As soon as Mr Hermans comes to the real subject of his book, the wanderings of Social Darwinism, he shows both erudition and a fluent style …
Bart Leeuwenburgh, Gewina, no. 1, 2004.
Mr Hermans sets out … to discover the essence of Social Darwinism. This results in an a-historic approach …. [Still] the investigation of Mr Hermans certainly is worth reading. For those who will not worry too much about the formulation of the historical problem to solve, this book offers a fine survey, nicely written, of the many variants of Social Darwinism. It’s a valiant undertaking to add a fresh contribution to the so-called ‘Darwin industry’, even venturing to come up with something novel to it.
Barbara Allart, Tijdschrift voor geschiedenis, December 2004
The historian Cor Hermans wrote a bulky, but highly readable and interesting thesis on Social Darwinism, in which he paid most attention to what connected the social Darwinists. This was, most of all, the high value they set on the concepts of selection and, joined to it, elimination: the disposal of the socially weak.
Nederlands Dagblad, 13 February, 2004
This book is ‘likely to effect an immense mental revolution’, the London publisher John Chapman prophesied in 1859 after Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species had appeared. Was he right? Yes, Cor Hermans states in his interesting thesis … Mr Hermans demonstrates in detail how thinkers like Galton (the father of eugenics), Spencer, Wallace, Haeckel and Schäffle – each in their own way – tried to shape this aspiration [to redefine sociology, social politics, and social philosophy in a Darwinist way], what emphasis they chose, and how they fitted it in with the national and socio-political context they were engaged in. But Mr Hermans does more. He shows that the efforts of the social Darwinists were not necessarily ‘faulty’, or, as has been suggested in historiography, only a vulgarisation or misleading popularisation of Darwin’s theory. Darwin himself wished for his universal theory to penetrate the humanities.
Amanda Kluveld, Historisch Nieuwsblad, March 2004
It was a motley collection, these social Darwinists, and Mr Hermans has enough on his plate to find the common denominator. The risk appears of a portrait gallery of eminent Victorians, however ably painted; therefore the author at regular intervals takes up stock to determine what can really be called social Darwinist. (…) Mr Hermans makes us notice a number of important personalities, with their theories, who for a long time have been in everyone’s black book.
Samuel de Lange, Trouw, 29 November, 2003
… the first extensive inquiry to appear in Dutch into the social influence of Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Kees Buijs, De Gelderlander, 1 November, 2003
The dissertation of Mr Hermans is a brave crusade against the pulverized idea of Social Darwinism that arose in the course of time.
Enne Koops in Historisch Tijdschrift Groniek, Groningen University, 2004