THE GREAT MONKEY TRIAL by L. Sprague de Camp


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Tennessee's infamous Scopes trial has been almost as great a magnet for research, discussion and dramatization as Lizzie Borden's. Mr. de Camp, one of the more competent of the prolific popularizers in science and technology, has synthesized the contemporary news stories, condensed the official court record, and followed up on the further careers of the major and minor figures involved in the first case to test anti-evolutionary laws. The effort to place the Bryan/Darrow debates and diatribes into the context of the times makes this book the fullest survey of the event currently available. In 1925, Dayton Tennessee became the focus of the country-wide efforts of Fundamentalists to force the literal interpretation of biblical allusions on teachers and textbooks through state laws. Anti-Darwinism was dogmatically on the offensive and there were other, less well-known attempts to legislate unreason--barely defeated bills introduced in state legislatures to have the world declared flat, and, of course, a growing movement toward the madness that was Prohibition. The politicians were silent or supine before voter pressures and elected judges could be, too. Magazines and newspapers played to the mass audience and the American Civil Liberties Union's willingness to marshall young Scopes' stellar defense helped open periodical pages to more intelligent examinations of these quasi-religious issues. Mr. de Camp gets it all in--including such details as the Frenchman who went mad and began behaving like a beserk baboon after reading about the great circus that was our Monkey Trial, which proved to be the Pyrrhic victory of our rapid Adamists.

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 1967
Publisher: Doubleday