The book, The Scopes Trial: A Brief History with Documents, was written by Jeffrey P. Moran. The book was published in the year 2002 by the Bedford Series in History and Culture by the Palgrave Firm. The publication is the 20th series of the book and it was published in New York City. The publication has received numerous reaction from other scholars who have criticized the work provided their assessment of the work.
The Scopes trial occurred in 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee. During this period, John Scopes had proposed a different form of teaching. Scopes wanted children to be taught evolution in schools. The John Scopes trial was purely based on his efforts to teach evolution in schools. This prompted other legendary orators like Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan to air their opinions about the scientific, social, and religious understanding of the of evolution and Darwinian theories of human origins (Moran 14). The continuing trials and the opinions of the leaders shaped America's debate on science and religion ever since. This book by Jeffrey P. Moran is purely designed for history students. Through the book, the author is able to re-write history and what happened in the courtrooms more than 90 years ago. The court process was transcribed hence the author is able to find the court documents and everything that was said in court during the eight-day trial. The trial was covered by more than two hundred journalists thus the author had adequate materials to research from and document the whole process.
The main advantage of the book is that the author aids the student in understanding the trial by providing useful comments and questions in each chapter. The author notes in the book that the Scopes trial led to political and cultural tensions in the country (Moran 36). Moran has managed to provide the readers with important components of what is famously referred to as, "The Trial of the Century." The author of the book is a Professor of History at the University of Kansas and has managed to author numerous books that contribute immensely to history education. The book has three sections and Moran has managed to provide readers with detailed research on the content.
The goal of The Scopes Trial: A Brief History with documents is to teach students about the political, social, cultural, and economic divide of the country. The book has provided relevant and detailed analysis of the happening and concepts. In the introduction section, the author discusses modernity and the Butler Bill Tennessee's 1925 law that prohibited the teaching of evolution in the state. Moran goes further to quote the works of William Jennings Bryan, Clarence Darrow, and John Scopes, the individuals who were instrumental during the trial and their opinions shaped the history of the country and the verdict of the case (Moran 49). The book is detailed and the author provides the readers with nine photographs from the period. The first section of the book is centered on analyzing regionalism in the conflict, race, and evolution, academic freedom during the period, the trial and the issue of gender. The addition of images in the work makes the book more detailed and easy for students to understand.
The author is open-minded in the discussion of the book and provides an argument for both sides. Moran provides the readers with arguments and evidence that are pro and anti the advocacy for equal rights for the African-Americans. The trials affected the American culture and led to a shift in the traditions. According to Moran, urbanism, culture, regionalism, and religion contributed to the discussion of struggle over evolution in Dayton, Tennessee (Moran 69). The education offered to the students is important and should reflect the society. The trial exposed the education policy. The writer notes that the teachings in the public schools should reflect and conform to the will of the community.
The major weakness of the book is that the author does not provide the new perspective of the Scopes trial as he had promised. Moran does not provide the learners with all the relevant documents and the ones that he provides are not original copies but those from the books that have been written on the topic by other writers. Although, the author provides all the arguments that support and are against the fight for the rights of African- Americans what is clear from the book is that he pro-evolution (Moran 73). Therefore, Moran fails in trying to be seen as an impartial individual on the topic.
The book will resonate well with the readers. Additionally, the language used for the publication is right for the intended audience. The author has managed to give a detailed analysis of the happenings and the events that led to the Scopes trial. Furthermore, he has properly researched on the topic and understands the arguments of both sides during the trial. The book goes further to touch on all the major topics that surrounded the Scopes trial. The author has extensively discussed the issues of education policy, gender, and the rights of African American, regionalism, and race. Therefore, the publication covers all the important aspects of the topic.
Moran, Jeffrey P., Jeffery P. Morgan, and Jeffrey P. Moran. The Scopes trial: A brief history with documents. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2002.
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