- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (October 2, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 046507510X
- ISBN-13: 978-0465075102
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 113 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion First Trade Paper Edition Edition
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The Pulitzer Prize--winning book that is "quite simply the best book ever written on the Scopes Trial and its place in American history and myth" -- Ronald L. Numbers
"Larson unlocks the past and renders it gracefully accessible in a narrative style that is easy to follow, despite the complexity of the intellectual currents and counter-currents of his theme."
"[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."
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Book thesis: A book solely about the [Scopes] trial and its place in American history; America's continuing debate over science and religion.
This book does precisely what it sets out to do: take a look at the Scopes trial and evaluate what it has meant for American society since that time. In fact, as one reads the book, one finds that Larson accomplishes exactly what he intends to with each chapter. Is it written so clearly that the reader never has to wonder where Larson will be going in the respective chapter--the chapter thesis is almost always placed at the end of the first paragraph, and summarizes to the reader the happenings during the chapter. Of course, the remainder of the chapter is not redundant, but merely substantiates the initial claim. Although one might determine the first section ("Before...") to be a bit dry, this section is crucial to understanding the remainder of the book and the significance of the trial even at the onset. Truly, the way Larson sets up the arguments for both sides of the case (chapters 2 and 3), create an immense amount of tension within me as I wrestled with the validity of both claims. It really does make sense for the majority to determine what is taught to their children, but it also makes sense to have the experts determine what should be taught in their field. So, even though the first section may be a bit dry, it is essential to understanding what this trial represents.
Of course, it represents different things to different peoples--to some it merely means money. Larson does an excellent job of pulling back the curtain to reveal the actual events that occurred; he is not influenced by later recapitulations of the trial (but in fact devotes a whole chapter to explain these and why they are misguided). His recounting is measured and accurate, and he does not allow subjective interpretation or framing of the events (indeed, throughout one is hard pressed to find evidence for which side they believe Larson himself agrees with!). The interpretation which he eventually does offer is merely more historical recounting--what people thought and believed about the trial after it was over. Larson is a careful historian who is truly interested in clearing up the dust surrounding one of America's most famous and influential trials.
For those who grew up hearing the legends of the Scopes trial, this is for you.
For those of a younger generation who have never heard "Scopes" except in passing reference, this is for you too--it helps not only understand history, but understand today and our trajectory.
(Responding to what another reviewer has said regarding Intelligent Design, Larson answers in the new Afterword.)
Hardcover Edition: used
This is an excellent account of the Scopes Trial from beginning to end. When I went to school in the 50's and graduated from High School in 1960. The subject was not presented in US Schools, or at least I don't remember ever reading anything about it. I remember having heard later there was a theory that man descended from apes in the mid 60's, but will admit at the time it sounded preposterous. Mostly, because I was not aware of the discovery's that had already been made in the field. It was not due to any large amount of religious belief, I never bought into it as a child either. I was raised by Christian parents to be skeptical of the world. Which may sound a little strange, because they both bought into the creation myth wholeheartedly. So I will have to plead ignorance at the time. But, having since then gotten heavier into evolution, it almost seems preposterous now that was the belief of the day.
I bought the book wanting more information on that aspect of the controversy over evolution, that is still raging today in various ways between science and Fundamentalist Christian's who do not want their children hearing any other version than creationism. That is something I found a great amount of in this book was information. That includes discovery's of man's origins at the turn of the century. The author paints and excellent well balance portrait and background as to the atmosphere of the day, political happenings and those people who were involved in the trial. It doesn't take either side of the issue, just gives the reader the details to decide for themselves what they want to believe. It made the whole story come to life. I bought this book used, received in a timely manner and it was in excellent condition. I will be keeping it for future generations of my family. So far I have had good luck buying a few used ones.