Cover image for The Scopes trial : a photographic history
Title:
The Scopes trial : a photographic history
Author:
Caudill, Edward.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Knoxville : University of Tennessee Press, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
88 pages : chiefly illustrations ; 21 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
Introduction: the Scopes trial -- A photographic history -- Afterword: seventy-five years of Scopes.
ISBN:
9781572330818

9781572330801
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

It was a big story in a small place. During the summer of 1925, the tiny hamlet of Dayton, Tennessee, became the setting for one of the most controversial trials in American history. In a move designed partly as a publicity scheme and partly as a means to test a newly enacted anti-evolution law, a young teacher named John Thomas Scopes agreed to be arrested for teaching Darwin's theory of natural selection in the public schools. The resulting courtroom showdown pitted Clarence Darrow, the brilliant trial lawyer and self-proclaimed agnostic, against Williams Jennings Bryan, three-time presidential candidate and fundamentalist Christian. For twelve days all eyes focused on Dayton as a spirited public debate unfolded.

Published on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Scopes trial, this book vividly recalls that famous episode through an array of fascinating archival photographs, many of them never before published. Images of the circus-like atmosphere that overtook Dayton during the trial alternate with candid photos of the key players. The accompanying text and captions summarize the events and clarify the underlying issues of the trial. While the legal consequences of the trial were minuscule--it ended in Scopes's conviction, which was later overturned on a technicality--its symbolic importance was enormous, defining the science-religion debate in the twentieth century.

In addition to revisiting the Scopes trial, the book also examines its continuing legacy in Tennessee history, politics, religion, and education. Although the 1925 law was finally repealed in 1967, state legislators have made subsequent efforts to challenge the teaching of evolution. "Like life itself," notes Edward Caudill in his introduction, "the controversy does not simply stop, but keeps evolving."

The Contributors: Edward Caudill is associate dean for graduate studies and research in the College of Communications at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is the author of Darwinian Myths: The Uses and Misuses of a Theory.

Edward J. Larson is Richard B. Russell Professor of History and professor of law at the University of Georgia. His book Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for history.

Jesse Fox Mayshark is senior editor of Metro Pulse, a weekly newspaper in Knoxville, Tennessee.


Author Notes

Edward J. Larson is Richard B. Russell Professor of History and professor of law at the University of Georgia. His book Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for history.

Jesse Fox Mayshark is senior editor of Metro Pulse, a weekly newspaper in Knoxville, Tennessee.


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The most famous nonfelony twentieth-century U.S. trial occupied 12 beastly hot days of July 1925 in little Dayton, Tennessee. Young teacher John Scopes had agreed to flout the new law forbidding the teaching of evolution. Defense and prosecution were both led by major public figures, the former by ace trial lawyer Clarence Darrow and the latter by three-time Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan. Scopes was found guilty, but biblical literalism was disgraced and driven from the field, only to resurface with "creation science" and challenge evolution again in the 1980s and 1990s. Sandwiching a clutch of generously annotated documentary photos, Caudill's introduction explains what led to the trial (economically straitened Dayton wanted publicity and tourism) and its tone (Darrow was a greater antireligion crusader than Bryan was a Christian one), and Jesse Fox Mayshark's afterword presents the trial's larger historical and political context and its long-lived effects on Tennessee, textbook publishing, and plain speech about hot topics. The slim, handsome book is an ideal primer on its notorious subject. --Ray Olson


Library Journal Review

On the 75th anniversary of the Scopes trial, Caudill (Univ. of Tennessee) and Larson (Univ. of Georgia) have surrounded fascinating photographs of the trial with excellent, accessible essays on its history and aftermath. Caudill shows that Tennessee's Butler Act, which outlawed the teaching of evolution in the state's public schools, was passed to appease conservative constituents. With a nominal fine as its punishment, it was not intended as a major law. However, the town of Dayton, TN, desperate for an economic boost, used a contrived violation of the law to promote itself. The book does an excellent job of placing the trial in context and illuminating the personalities of Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan. The endnotes reference the major works on the trial for further research. The photographs and captions alone are worth the price, showing how the news coverage of the trial transformed a town and shamed a state. Larson's afterword demonstrates that religious fundamentalists and the American Civil Liberties Union both gained from the trial. The facts are more complex, he argues, than shown in the play/movie Inherit the Wind. Highly recommended for all collections.DHarry Charles, Attorney at Law, St. Louis (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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