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Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul Paperback – February 19, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
More importantly, perhaps, the writing is superb. I have rarely read a non-fiction book that kept my attention as well as this one. Honestly, I could not put it down. It covers not just the famous Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, but the situation leading up to the trial, including background on the entire evolution-creationism war. I learned a great deal from the book, while being even more greatly entertained by it.
If you're interested at all in our public schools, I strongly recommend this book. If you're on a school board, you NEED to read this book. Frankly, I think that nearly everyone should read it, simply because it explains the whole controversy so well - and explains the science, the history, and the politics behind it - while being such a darn good read. It WILL keep your attention. Highly recommended!
Despite Humes bending over backwards to portray the full complexity of the school board members, they do not come out of this looking good - their frailties, arrogance and mendacity are on display for all to see and judge. Humes, however, successfully avoids turning them into caricatures of ignorance and backwardness - something other commentators have not been so successful with.
Other areas in which the book excels are its presentation of background details such as other trials and related controversies, its coverage of the science (showing an ability all too lacking in modern journalism - the ability to follow an argument from beginning to end) and its portrayal of the litigants, the legal team and Judge Jones who, along with Kitzmiller et al, certainly earns the title of hero in this book.
One review has claimed that Humes was biased, based on statements like this:
"Jones concluded -- correctly -- that the evidence in favour of evolution is convincing and compelling, and that the counterarguments are far less so" (page 340) . . . . . .
"Arguably, evolution has been more rigorously tested, and enjoys more evidence in its support, than any other theory in the history of science." (page 346)
Let us be clear - following evidence is not bias. Ignoring evidence while hiding behind claims of objectivity and fairness IS bias.Read more ›
Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District was the latest in a long series of trials about the teaching of evolution in American Public school. The first one was the famous "Scopes Monkey Trial", in which a replacement science teacher was prosecuted for teaching evolution against state law. The teacher, John Scopes, lost, and anti-evolution laws remained on the books in many US states until the Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional. Ever since, the shoe was on the other foot - Kitzmiller, dubbed scopes II (or III, or IV, or V, etc), went the other way around - it featured a group of parents, upset about a legislative attempt to sneak the newest repackaging of creationism - a glossed up version marketed under the moniker of "Intelligent Design" - into biology class.
Journalist Edward Humes wrote a fascinating account of the Dover Trial, setting it in context of the historical creation/evolution divide, recent development, and the general approached of the religious right and the Bush administration - memorably described as a "War on" - science.
Early in the century, a group of newly elected members of the Dover school board decided that the then current biology curriculum was unsuitable. The reason? It was "laced with Darwinism". Those board members knew little about science, evolution, or "Intelligent Design", and cared less. What they cared about was that "[2000 years ago] a man died on a cross. Can't someone stand up for him"? Standing up for him meant bringing creationist viewpoints to "balance" evolution.Read more ›
As the author of a forthcoming book (Viking, May 17) on five recent legal cases that challenged religious symbols and practices in public parks, courthouses, and schools (God on Trial: Dispatches From America's Religious Battlefields), I included a chapter on the Dover case, and read the entire 6,000 pages of testimony in that trial. Ed Humes has made that trial come to life, with perceptive portraits of all the participants: plaintiffs, defendants, expert witnesses on both sides, and the federal judge, John E. Jones III, a Republican appointee of President Bush, who presided with amazing fairness and flashes of humor.
Having recently visited Dover and talked with people on both sides of the cases, I can attest that Humes has given Dover's residents a chance to express their divergent views without bias. There are few books tht match Monkey Girl in putting human faces on deep-rooted conflicts over religious values and scientific issues.
The conflict over teaching evolution in public schools goes back to the famous Scopes "Monkey Trial" in 1925, and has still not ended, despite a series of judicial rulings that creationism in any form is a religious doctrine that does not belong in science classes. The opponents of evolution are well-funded and determined, but the Dover case inflicted a blow from which they might not recover. Anyone concerned about this issue will profit from reading Humes's fascinating book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Depends on how much detail you want. This book was very detailed and thorough. Also very scary .Published 13 days ago by Carol Hollenshead
This book gives a deliciously detailed account of the events leading up to the 2005 case brought against the Dover PA school board and some of the biggest supporters of ID. Read morePublished 3 months ago by David Gustafson
The author was definitely an evolutionist and did not even attempt to appear objective. But reason I I gave the book only 3 stars is because of the monotonous and long history of... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Carla Gore
A great read and just shows you the limits the far right religious zealots of the GOP will go to get religion back into the classroom. Read morePublished 7 months ago by DonS
I was enthralled. The skill of the author was superb; he was able to pack so much education into a thoroughly enjoyable presentation. Read morePublished 7 months ago by scn
Loved this book. A fascinating look into the "controversy " of evolution and the idea of intelligent design, in the setting of a school board and courtroom drama that played out in... Read morePublished 8 months ago by marc sivak
Excellent, very comprehensive review of the background, issues and players in the Dover trial. Highly recommended.Published 9 months ago by Petey