Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion

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Overview


In the summer of 1925, the sleepy hamlet of Dayton, Tennessee, became the setting for one of the 20th century’s most contentious dramas: the Scopes trial that pit William Jennings Bryan and the anti-Darwinists against a teacher named John Scopes into a famous debate over science, religion, and their place in public education That trial marked the start of a battle that continues to this day-in Dover, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Cobb County, Georgia, and many other cities and states throughout the country. Edward ...
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Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion

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Overview


In the summer of 1925, the sleepy hamlet of Dayton, Tennessee, became the setting for one of the 20th century’s most contentious dramas: the Scopes trial that pit William Jennings Bryan and the anti-Darwinists against a teacher named John Scopes into a famous debate over science, religion, and their place in public education That trial marked the start of a battle that continues to this day-in Dover, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Cobb County, Georgia, and many other cities and states throughout the country. Edward Larson’s classic, Summer for the Gods, received the Pulitzer Prize in History in 1998 and is the single most authoritative account of a pivotal event whose combatants remain at odds in school districts and courtrooms. For this edition, Larson has added a new preface that assesses the state of the battle between creationism and evolution, and points the way to how it might potentially be resolved.
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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT - Nola Theiss
If you familiar with the movie Inherit the Wind you may expect some drama and excitement in this nonfiction work about the fight over evolution, which focuses on the Scopes trial. Instead, it is a cultural history of the US, using the issue of evolution to describe the rift between fundamentalism and science—two very different ways of seeing the world. The author describes the evolution of the science of evolution and how the fight over it being taught in high schools was contrived. Scopes wasn't even a real science teacher, but a dupe used as a stand-in so as to bring the issue to the forefront of public consciousness. Larson in a sense uses the fight over evolution as a stand-in for the larger fight over the supremacy of religion or science in American culture. His description of the actual trial is historically accurate and well researched, as evidenced by his extensive notes and index. The afterword crystallizes the three stages of the continuing debate over evolution in our schools: removing it entirely, balancing it with creationism, or teaching it as just one theory. The author concludes that as long as Americans are mesmerized by drama and theatrics, rather than science and fact, this debate will continue for a long time.
New York Review of Books
In Summer for the Gods, the first full study of the Scopes trial to be published in forty years, Larsen incisively examines the myths surrounding the Scopes trial. His treatment is fresh and authoritative, making good use of the record of the trial, the extensive newspaper and magazine coverage it received, and the private papers of several of the main figures and organizations involved in it...He restores attention to aspects of [the trial] that are commonly overlooked and that reverberate in the contentions of our own day over science and religion in the schools. The originality of his book arises in large part from its thoughtful, evenhanded treatment of both sides in the confrontation--and the seriousness with which he takes the opposing convictions about religion, science, and their relationship to the law that clashed in Dayton...Larson's account of the trial and the legal issues involved in it is particularly illuminating...[He] provides a fascinating account of how the trial became the legend that was eventually passed on by Inherit the Wind...[This is an] excellent book.
— Daniel J. Kevles
New Scientist
Edward Larson won the Pulitzer Prize in History for his excellent Summer for the Gods, an investigation into the [Scopes] trial and why it still matters. Get the paperback to get up to speed.
Times Literary Supplement
A Spencer Tracy film, Inherit the Wind, was based on the [John Scopes Trial] and has shaped popular memories of it. But, as Edward J. Larson shows in this Pulitzer-Prize-winning book, the film's sinister mood is misleading...Larson artfully separates myths from realities to tell a more complicated and convincing story. He also summarizes the continuing efforts of Tennessee and other southern states to keep creationism on the curriculum and evolution off it.
— Patrick Allitt
Providence Journal-Bulletin
This book has already won a Pulitzer Prize, but it's worth calling attention to again...Larson...finds new things to say about the famous "monkey trial" of 1925 and says them well. Among other things, he shows how the trial helped to break down the longstanding intellectual accommodation between Darwinism and Protestant theology, highlights the tensions between celebrity lawyer Clarence Darrow and the rest of John Scopes's defense team, and demonstrates how the enormously influential drama Inherit the Wind significantly warped the trial and its aftermath.
— Luther Spoehr
Chicago Tribune
Before the Dover, Pa., trial over intelligent design, there was the Scopes monkey trial, which historian Edward Larson retells with exquisite detail and sympathy for those on both sides.
— Jeremy Manier
New York Times Book Review
Bryan's and Darrow's ghosts still haunt us, and the Scopes trial still holds resonance, as we continue to litigate the role of religion and public life and the power of the state to prescribe what shall be taught in public schools. Read Summer for the Gods for that well-told story.
— Rodney A. Smolla
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465075102
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/2006
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 252,356
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet 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 Evolution’s Workshop: God and Science on the Galapagos Islands and lives in Athens, Georgia.
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Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

PART I: BEFORE…

1. Digging Up Controversy

2. Government by the People

3. In Defense of Individual Liberty

PART II: …DURING…

4. Choosing Sides

5. Jockeying for Position

6. Preliminary Rounds

7. The Trial of the Century

PART III: …AND AFTER

8. The End of an Era

9. Retelling the Tale

10. Distant Echoes

Notes

Index

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 6 of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 14, 2013

    Excellent book highly recommend to any who are interested ...

    ... in the ongoing battle between religious fundamentalists and the science of evolution. In addition to coverage of the trial from an historical perspective, provides a brief history of the origin of fundamentalist movement that opposes the science of evolution.

    Excellent work.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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