“Building on exhaustive research and probing into such diverse enterprises as textbook production and marketing, public education, and state-level politics, Adam R. Shapiro has situated the Scopes trial within a much broader context than any scholar before him. Trying Biology also demonstrates how ideologues have used differing interpretations of the Scopes trial to advance their agendas. By situating the trial within this much broader framework, the author has significantly enlarged our understanding of the conversations between religion and science in twentieth-century America.”
“For decades scholars have been debating how the Scopes trial influenced American biology textbooks. In this meticulously documented and persuasively argued new book, Adam R. Shapiro gives the definitive answer: the antievolution movement that began in the early 1920s had a profound effect on the presentation of evolution; the trial in 1925, very little.”
“How did American children learn about evolution? From biology textbooks, of course. Adam R. Shapiro has provided our first truly historical account of the textbook industry and its complicated relationship to evolution instruction in public schools. As Shapiro shows, the Scopes trial was as much about the texts that we read—and the schools where we read them—as it was about Charles Darwin or the Book of Genesis. Shapiro’s study is itself a textbook case of careful historical analysis, casting new light on an old controversy. His own readers will surely get a fresh view of the controversy over evolution, and of American education writ large.”
“Adam Shapiro’s Trying Biology provides a useful corrective to the stale argument that the Scopes Trial and the antievolution movement in general embodied an eternal conflict between science and religion. Shapiro’s account of the battles among textbook authors, publishers, salesmen, and school boards not only adds welcome nuance to our understanding of the trial’s causes and consequences, it provides an enlightening and even entertaining look at the crucial role that money and politics have played in the evolution of biology teaching in America. Trying Biology belongs on the short shelf of essential books on Scopes and antievolutionism.”
“ Trying Biology is a wonderfully lucid exploration of how the Scopes ‘monkey’ trial became one of the signature events in the history of science and religion in America. In its focus on how textbooks of biology were published, marketed, sold, and adopted in various political contexts, it provides us with a provocative and novel understanding of how textbooks shaped public understanding of biology and continue to be a political flashpoint of biology education in America. It will prove essential reading for anyone interested in the history of biology, in American education, and in the complex relations between science and religion in America.”
Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis
“If you have an interest in the antievolution movement in the USA you will want to read this book.”
“A gripping, moving, and enlightening story.”
New Books in Education - Carla Nappi
“This is a fascinating history, painstakingly documented and thought provoking. . . . [R]eaders of this book will learn a lot, not just about the trial but about the deep roots of social trends and public policies that still hold sway in 2013. Highly recommended.”
“An important book about the history of evolutionary pedagogy? Certainly. A meticulously detailed piece of historical research. Ditto.”
Times Higher Education Supplement - Simon Underdown
“An interesting and helpful read. . . . Shapiro’s account has certainly caused me to rethink this infamous trial and its influence on evolution education.”
Science Education - Aaron J. Sickel
“[A] masterful reevaluation of the infamous ‘Monkey Trial’ of 1925. . . . Engagingly written. . . . Beyond its important insights into how issues in the textbook industry and matters of curriculum policy shaped the Scopes trial, Trying Biology offers an oft-needed reminder of the need to interrogate critically the claims of historical actors.”
History of Education Quarterly - David Mislin
“In Trying Biology, Shapiro offers an indispensable new argument about the crucial issues at play in evolution education in the 1920s. . . . Historians will be well advised to consider Shapiro’s careful argument about the relationships between science, education, and textbook publishing.”
Register of the Kentucky Historical Society - Adam Laats
“Insightful and well-researched.”
American Historical Review - Rick Ostrander
“Shapiro’s approach is profound as it can and should be applied to other episodes in the history of science. The message is a concise and convincing contribution to the history of science.”
Quarterly Review of Biology - Elizabeth D. Jones
[Shapiro's] detailed account of the making of Hunter's New Civic Biology gives us new ways to think about public science in a capitalist democracy.
Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences - Stephen P. Weldon
"This thoughtful study explains more than we have known before about the importance of the Scopes trial to the history of science and religion."
"Shapiro has provided valuable additional information concerning the Scopes trial, its origins, and its impact. Any student of the evolution controversy in America will profit greatly from his discussion of the central role played by those involved with the publication and marketing of biology textbooks during the early twentieth century."
Reports of the National Center for Science Education - George E. Webb
"Shapiro is wonderfully insightful on school antievolutionism and the history of biology textbooks. He rightly argues that the Scopes Trial was not inevitable, and in some sense was a historical accident. This is excellent work that undercuts the notion that religion and science are in necessary, eternal conflict."