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Summer For the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion
Synopses & Reviews
In the summer of 1925, the sleepy hamlet of Dayton, Tennessee, became the unlikely setting of one of our centurys most contentious dramas: the Scopes trial and the debate over science, religion, and their place in public education. This ”trial of the century” not only cast Dayton into the national spotlight, it epitomized Americas ongoing struggle between individual liberty and majoritarian democracy.Now, with this authoritative and engaging book, Edward J. Larson examines the many facets of the Scopes trial and shows how its enduring legacy has crossed religious, cultural, educational, and political lines.The ”Monkey Trial,” as it was playfully nicknamed, was instigated by the American Civil Liberties Union to challenge a controversial Tennessee law banning the teaching of human evolution in public schools. The Tennessee statute represented the first major victory for an intense national campaign against Darwinism, launched in the 1920s by Protestant fundamentalists and led by the famed politician and orator William Jennings Bryan. At the behest of the ACLU, a teacher named John Scopes agreed to challenge the statute, and what resulted was a trial of mythic proportions. Bryan joined the prosecutors and acclaimed criminal attorney Clarence Darrow led the defense—a dramatic legal matchup that spurred enormous media attention and later inspired the classic play Inherit the Wind.The Scopes trial marked a watershed in our national discussion of science and religion. In addition to symbolizing the clash between evolutionists and creationists, the trial helped shape the development of both popular religion and constitutional law in America, serving as a precedent for more recent legal and political battles. With new archival material from both the prosecution and the defense, paired with Larsons keen historical and legal analysis, Summer for the Gods is poised to become a new classic on a pivotal milestone in American history.
Book News Annotation:
Echoes of the 1925 Scopes "monkey trial" over the teaching of evolution persist today, as Larson (history and law, U. of Georgia) illustrates in his narration--based on some new archival material--of this "trial of the century" and interpretation of its legacy.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
For the first time in forty years, and including never-before-published archival material, here is a provocative new look at the notorious Scopes Trial, the case that sparked a debate over teaching evolution that continues to rage even today. The author of Trial and Error presents the first modern history of the Scopes Trial, not only skillfully narrating the trials events, but also framing it in a broader social context, showing how its influence has cut across religious, cultural, educational, and political lines.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 267-305) and index.
About the Author
Edward J. Larson is a professor with a joint appointment in history and law at the University of Georgia. A graduate of Williams College and Harvard Law School, he received his doctorate in the history of science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He is also the author of Evolutions Workshop: God and Science on the Galapagos Islands and lives in Athens, Georgia.
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