In the summer of 1925, the sleepy hamlet of Dayton, Tennessee, became the unlikely setting for one of our century's most contentious dramas: the Scopes trial and the ensuing debate over science, religion, and their place in education. Pairing archival material with the author's keen legal and historical analysis, this book provides a fresh ...
In the summer of 1925, the sleepy hamlet of Dayton, Tennessee, became the unlikely setting for one of our century's most contentious dramas: the Scopes trial and the ensuing debate over science, religion, and their place in education. Pairing archival material with the author's keen legal and historical analysis, this book provides a fresh interpretation of this pivotal event in American history. Illustrations.
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Publishers Weekly, 1997-06-16 The 1925 Scopes trial involving the teaching of evolution has been shaped in current consciousness largely by Frederick Lewis Allen's 1931 book Only Yesterday and the 1960 film Inherit the Wind, based on a Broadway play. Larson explains in this intriguing, lucid history that both sources contained faulty information: the book inaccurately presented fundamentalism as a vanquished foe, while the filmæmore a response to McCarthyism than a reconstruction of the trialæinaccurately portrayed the teacher on trial as a victim of a thoughtless mob and the prosecutor, based closely on real-life prosecutor William Jennings Bryan, as a product of that mob. The reality was more complex, reveals Larson. Bryan was both an economic progressive and Christian anti-evolutionist. The American Civil Liberties Union actively campaigned for a plaintiff in a test case, and John Scopes saw the case as a lark. Defense lawyer Clarence Darrow cared less about the ACLU agendaæfree speech and academic freedomæthan about jousting over the Bible and besting Bryan in court. Though Scopes was found guilty, the judge imposed a minimum fine and the Tennessee Supreme Court managed to overturn the conviction without invalidating the law. Larson, who teaches history and law at the University of Georgia, has ably put the trialæand its antecedents and aftermathæin appropriate context. Illustrations. (July)
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