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Paperback The Scopes Trial: A Brief History with Documents Book

ISBN: 0312249195

ISBN13: 9780312249199

The Scopes Trial: A Brief History with Documents

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Book Overview

Scopes Trial covers the shocking case of whether to teach evolution in school and its impact on the moral fiber of the country and the educational system, examining the race and gender issues that... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

A great overview on scopes, evolution, education and other debates that continue to rage on

I remember vague references to the Scopes Trial from High School classes and various discussions on the evolution debate. This book is a great compilation of the data in and surrounding that case. I really enjoyed the introduction and commentary by the author that helped orient some of the texts and discussions. I found myself laughing out loud at some of the transcripts from the courtroom proceedings. And I also appreciated and enjoyed the supplemental material at the back (related essays, political cartoons, etc.). Overall, this book provides some great insights into the evolution debate (many of the same arguments continue almost verbatim today) as well as into many of the problems with our education system. **** 4 out of 5 stars

Nice try - wins half a cigar

Let me start by saying that I liked this book a lot. In fact I'd recommend it to anyone aged 12 or over as an excellent - by the standards of America's academia - introduction to the Scopes trial. As the author and developer of a web site devoted to the facts and myths surrounding the Scopes Trial since the end of the 20th century I am very much aware of how widely the case is misrepresented by American academics. Indeed I have documented on that web site a number of instances of the kind of twaddle written about the events in 1925 by professors of US colleges and universities. So deep has this malaise penetrated, in fact, that even Bryan's entry in the "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-Present" claims that Bryan died on the floor of the courtroom - a "fact" drawn not from history but from the play/film "Inherit the Wind" - though the author does at least get the date right: July 26th (a Sunday, and almost exactly 5 days after the trial ended, around mid-day on July 21st). In light of that, it is only fair to say that Moran's book is streets ahead of most other books on the subject that I've read so far, with the one exception of Edward Larson's outstanding "Summer for the Gods". Moreover, they way it is broken down into bite-size sections would seem to make it ideal as the basis for use in schools. So, what's the problem? In brief, Moran has collected plenty of "dots", but they aren't always accurate, and the way he "joins them up" leaves something to be desired. To be fair, many of the inaccuracies are fairly minor; but large or small they are not what one would expect to find in a book by a history professor at the University of Kansas and, to quote the back cover: "A specialist in modern American social and cultural history". For example, there's the claim that the phrase "trial of the century" was invented in the 1920's (page 2). It wasn't. The title had been applied to the trial of Leo Frank, back in 1913. On page 28, Moran for some unexplained reason expands the population of Dayton from the usual estimate of 1,800 to 2,200. And again, Moran seems confused about the nature of eugenics as practised in the USA. On page 16 he rightly only mentions "negative" eugenics - the intention to erase anyone who the eugenicists didn't approve of. But on page 68 he describes both negative AND positive eugenics as though they were both in favour. ("Positive" eugenics being the intention to get eugenically "fit" citizens to produce as many children as was reasonably possible. In practice US eugenicists abandoned "positive eugenics" quite early on and concentrated on policies that promoted only "negative eugenics". See Edwin Black's extensively researched book, "War Against the Weak".) This last point is particularly relevant to the documentation featured in the chapter on "Race and the Scopes Trial", where we find that black writers of the period viewed the anti-evolutionists as their main enemy and seem to have

A solid case study on the Scopes "Monkey " Trial

What Jeffrey P. Moran has put together with "The Scopes Trial: A Brief History with Documents" is an excellent modern counterpart to Sheldon Norman Grebstein's "Monkey Trial: The State of Tennessee vs. John Thomas Scopes" in 1960, which was the first attempt to provide excerpts from the trial transcript with other historical documents that allow contemporary scholars to get a sense for what it was like to follow the trial of the century in 1925. There are three main parts to Moran's look at the Scopes Trial. Part One is Moran's "Introduction: The Scopes Trial and the Birth of Modern America," which consists of setting up the trial in the context of the issues of both the evolution controversy and the struggle against "modernity," a overview of the genesis of the test case and the key stages of the trial, and at look at the aftermath of the trial. The first two sections are a concise look at the history of the trial but it is the last section where Moran makes his mark looking at not only the how the evolution issues has reemerged in recent times as creationism, but also how the conflict represented issues of regionalism, ruralism, academic freedom, race, and gender. Part Two: "The Scopes Trial Day by Day: Transcript and Commentary" abandons the distinct stages Moran set up in his introduction to look at the trial each day. What Moran provides are excerpts from the trial transcript and one or more newspaper accounts covering the trial. For example, the second day's proceedings find both a transcript of defense attorney Clarence Darrow's speech in defense of religious liberty and journalist H.L. Mencken's column "Darrow's Speech Great but Futile." The celebrated duel in the shade when Darrow cross-examined Bryan is presented in sections focusing on the whale swallowing Jonah, Joshua commanding the sun to stand still, the flood wiping out civilization, and the chapter of Genesis, followed by the New York Times story "Laughter at Bryan's Expense."The part I most applaud is Moran's inclusion of most of Dudley Field Malone's reply to William Jennings Bryan on the fifth day on the issue of the admission of expert testimony from scientific experts, because that corrects what I consider to be the major flaw in Edward J. Larson's "Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion." Larson reduces Malone's speech, the oratorical highlight of the trial, to two paragraphs, one on the speech and the other on the reaction of the crowd. What he misses are that Malone's speech represents the position of reconciliation in which evolution and Genesis were seen as being compatible rather than contradictory. It is only under Judge Raulston rules against the scientific testimony that the Scopes defense is left with no other option but to put Bryan on the stand and hold him up to ridicule, ask for their client to be convicted, and start working on the appeal. While Moran pays even less attention to Malone's speec

Wonderful Introduction to the Scopes Trial

The Scopes Trial: A Brief History with Documents is a wonderful introduction to the Scopes "monkey" trial and its significance in history. I found the narrative history to be a quick but compelling and informative read, and was especially interested in the way in which the author shows how events during the time period following the First World War influenced the parties and helped to explain their motivations. I also found the documents, including excerpts from the trial transcript and newspaper articles of the time to be very helpful in understanding the manner in which the trial developed and the manner in which it was perceived nationally. Anyone looking for a readable yet informative work on the Scopes trial would be well advised to look into this book.
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