Summer for the Gods by Edward J. Larson

Scopes Monkey Trial Summer for the GodsTitle: Summer for the Gods – The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate over Science and Religion

Author: Edward J. Larson

Publisher: Basic Books

Date: 2006 (original 1997)

The Scopes Trial occurred during a particularly colorful and Christian centric era of American politics. It was the Summer of 1925 in a small rural Tennessee town pitted anti-Darwinists against the ACLU in a fierce war over religion, science and state sponsored education.  William Jennings Bryan on the righteous right and Clarence Darrow on the more liberal left elegantly, passionately, and wearily debated before the court the argument of teaching evolution in the classroom and the whole country was watching. The implications of their impassioned arguments are still rippling through the country to this day.  Both sides still sling motions first exercised in the Scopes Trial from one side of the country to the other the argument continues.

Larson was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in History  in 1998 for Summer for the Gods. This scholarly work is incredibly thought provoking regardless of the stance you take on the issue. Bryan was a failed politician and master orator who could whip up the frenzy of any crowd with his mesmerizing style. Darrow, the Agnostic son of a Unitarian minister, was a great supporter of reformist politics that sought to create an America that did not favor the wealthy over the poor. While Darrow lost the case for his client, his skills as a criminal attorney and orator were outstanding in the case. Unfortunately, the argument was heard before a jury in the American Bible belt that clutched to their beliefs and were apparently closed to any other ideas. This case heralded the close of one century and opened another which continued the tension that continues to grow between science and American Christian Fundamentalism.

Excellently researched and well documented, Summer for the Gods is an excellent study of not only the events and conditions leading up to the Scopes Trial but also of the current unresolved controversy of evolution teaching in the US today.


One response to this post.

  1. Awesome book.


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