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Summer of the Gods: Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion Hardcover – 6 Jun 1997


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; New edition edition (6 Jun. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465075096
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465075096
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 17.1 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,263,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"[Larson's] careful and evenhanded analysis dispels the mythologies and caricatures in film and stage versions of the trial, leaving us with a far clearer picture of the cultural warfare that still periodically erupts in our classes and courts." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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 Evolution's Workshop: God and Science on the Galapagos Islands and lives in Athens, Georgia. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Dec. 1998
Format: Hardcover
Edward Larson's Summer for the Gods not only gives an excellent summary of the Scopes Trial, but also provides valuable and original insights on the meaning of the trial. In doing an undergraduate paper in the fall of 1996 on the topic and its place in the history of fundamentalism, I would have loved to have had Larson's work. Its fairness, thoroughness, and "readability" exceed any of the sources that were available to me. I also lament that I purchased and read Summer for the Gods AFTER I taught the Scopes Trial to my United States History class. His chapter on "Retelling the tale", in which he critiques the most popular accounts of the trial, would have strongly reinforced my dubunking of the Inherit the Wind myth that many of my students brought with them from American Literature. Though far from an expert on the Scopes Trial, I know enough to know that Larson's work is to be recommended to historians, all educators, and anyone who appreciates well-written history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Nov. 1998
Format: Paperback
Like many of my generation, I learned of the Scopes "Monkey" Trial through the Lawrence and Lee play, "Inherit the Wind." Edward J. Larson's Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion is a fine and lively historical account of the trial and its aftermath. Winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize, Larson's book sets the battle between fundamentalist religion and the "modern" science of Darwinism in both an historical and cultural context. In the 1920s, several states attempted to pass anti-evolution laws, and Tennessee finally succeeded in 1925. Thereafter, the ACLU found a test plaintiff in teacher John Scopes, and a test venue in the sleepy town of Dayton, Tennessee, which hoped to use the trial to "get on the map" and increase tourism. Using newspaper accounts, memoirs, and other contemporaneous sources, Larson displays in vivid detail both the seriousness and naivete of the battle between religion and science, William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow. He also argues, convincingly for me, that the trial did not -- contrary to the Lawrence and Lee depiction -- leave Bryan a broken man (although he died within a week of the verdict). Going beyond the trial and its immediate aftermath, the final section of this book examines how later historians and writers -- including Lawrence and Lee -- have interpreted and often mis-interpreted the trial for later generations. In particular, Larson argues that "Inherit the Wind", like the Arthur Miller classic "The Crucible", must be viewed as both a product of and attack upon the McCarthy era of the 1950's. This is an insightful and enjoyable account.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. J. Hudson on 14 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
I was looking for a book to educate me on the Scope's Monkey Trial but I didn't want to have to read a lot of books to understand the subject. I read all the UK and US Amazon reviews and was surprised how few books were given good reviews by the public. Despite reading all the reviews, I found this book was nothing like what I was expecting. The author gives a thorough introduction to the subject such that when he finally reaches the trial; you have a thorough understanding of what is happening and why. What I found strange was that the author treats the trial as a nonentity and consequently skips through it in a very superficial way; when you read the book you understand why. The text is laboriously detailed in places which I found made it difficult to hold my concentration. The book is very educational , very enjoyable to read despite the immense detail in places. To be completely fair to the book, it is not really about the Scope's Monkey Trial; it is about the American culture clash between the religious fundamentalists and the liberal educational establishment. For non-Americans it is an introduction to another facet to the complex religious bigotry which is rife in America to this day. When America was an English/British colony, they took guidance from the mother country. When they separated , they seem to have retreated in their shell and are an insight into English religious bigotry in the middle ages. We all know how pig-headed the English religious establishment was in the middle ages; this book paints these American fundamentalists as identical. Despite the attempts to play down the importance of religious fundamentalist anti-evolution beliefs in America; it is clear that it still accounts for about 40% of the population.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Mar. 1999
Format: Hardcover
It's one of the defining scenes of our century. The young science teacher, John Scopes, is chased from his class by a rabid bunch of anti-evolutionists. He's thrown in jail and a show trial is set up to punish him. Then Clarence Darrow arrives ... the white knight for science and rationalism. In a brilliant oration he destroys the older fundamentalist, William Jennings Bryan, exposing him as a fool and winning the case, making the world free for evolution. One small problem.
The truth is nothing like that happy story. What you're thinking of is the plot of Inheirit the Wind, a second-rate movie that used the Scopes trial to dramatize the McCarthy hearings. Spencer Tracy and Gene Kelley weren't in Dayton for the trial, and what really happened was far from black and white.
But in the hands of Edward Larson, it's also far more interesting. Larson's book, Summer for the Gods is a brialliantly reasoned look at what led to the trial, the trial itself, and its continuing impact on society. (Okay, on American society ... but it's still interesting.) Larson manages a tremendously difficult task: he manages to be unbiased and dispassionate without becoming dull. And he walks the line masterfully. There were times when I couldn't honestly say whose "side" Larson was on ... which is kind of the point. I read a lot of history, and it's very seldom I come across something that's so even-handed. Which would be a triumph in itself, even if it weren't so darn readable. For the rest of the review, visit my web page at exn.net/printedmatter
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