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Monkey Business: The True Story of the Scopes Trial [Hardcover]

By Marvin Olasky (Author) & John Perry (Author)
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Item description for Monkey Business: The True Story of the Scopes Trial by Marvin Olasky & John Perry...

Describes the famous 1925 courtroom showdown of William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow over the teaching of evolution in public schools, and points out details and discrepancies that have not come to light until recently.

Publishers Description
The Scopes Monkey Trial in Dayton, Tennessee was a watershed moment in the history of this country. The ramifications of those proceedings are still being felt today. However, it is not necessarily the arguments from the courtroom floor that are reverberating in the halls of America today. The way the entire event was conducted and perceived by the rest of the nation set the tone for how creationists and evolutionists have been viewed by society ever since. Marvin Olasky and John Perry tell the true story in Monkey Business. Most people have a misunderstanding of what happened based on slanted newspaper reporting accounts of H. L. Menken, who made fun of creationists. As a result, the case for creationism has been crippled in the eyes of society. But this account of what happened is far from accurate. Monkey Business will offer the facts of the story and an apologetic for divine creation.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: B&H Books
Pages   344
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.28" Width: 6.2" Height: 1.15"
Weight:   1.4 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 15, 2005
Publisher   B&H Publishing Group
ISBN  0805431578  
ISBN13  9780805431575  

Availability  0 units.

More About Marvin Olasky & John Perry

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Marvin Olasky (PhD, American Culture, University of Michigan) is the editor-in-chief of World Magazine. He has been interviewed numerous times by the national media as the developer of the concepts of compassionate conservatism and biblically objective journalism and is the author of twenty books.

Marvin Olasky currently resides in Austin, in the state of Texas.

Marvin Olasky has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Turning Point Christian Worldview Series

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Apologetics
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Church & State
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Science & Religion

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Practical Life > Science, Faith & Evolution

Reviews - What do customers think about Monkey Business?

Monkey Business: The True Story of the Scopes Trial  Dec 10, 2007
Marvin Olasky has written a detailed and fascinating account of the Scopes Trial which delves into the background of the major figures involved and sheds light on their viewpoints of the Creation/Evolution Controversy. The jury ruled in favor of creationism, a quite defendable position, but popular opinion since the trial has been dominated by what secular liberals in the media reported. The problem is that their reporting was a great misrepresentation of the facts.
Pretty good reading  Nov 27, 2007
The 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial has come to define the evolution vs. creationism debate like no other event in American history. It was supposedly going to "settle" the question once and for all. It was also intended as an intellectual battle royal between Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, two of the greatest minds of the early 20th century. According to this book, the reality was a lot less interesting.

The American Civil Liberties Union was a new liberal organization in New York, looking for publicity. The Butler Act was a Tennessee state law which mandated the teaching of creationism alongside evolution (which had been taught in Tennessee for the previous 15 years). The ACLU put ads in local newspapers, looking for a teacher to be arrested to test the law. John Thomas Scopes, a teacher and athletic coach in Dayton, Tennessee (a former steel town that had fallen on hard times) was persuaded to be that person. The trial quickly became the talk of America.

Spectators descended on Dayton by the hundreds (the city fathers hoped for thousands). The trial was marked by a lot of procedural wrangling by both sides, with the jury absent, on such questions as whether or not each day's session should open with a prayer. The jury only heard about 3 hours of actual testimony. There were moments of great eloquence during the trial, but there was little of the hoped-for Bryan vs. Darrow.

The authors don't end with Scopes being found guilty of teaching evolution, which both sides had planned on, but looks at more recent things like intelligent design. Those who believe in ID are portrayed as flexible and willing to listen to skeptics, while those who believe in evolution are shown as dogmatic and totally unwilling to listen to anyone who doesn't believe as they do.

If the authors had ended this book at the end of the trial, I would give it two thumbs up; I can understand showing the current state of the evolution debate. Whatever your feelings on the matter, this is still recommended.

A little "Intelligent Design" would have helped this book  Jan 2, 2007
This is a story that needed to be told from a new perspective, but, unfortunately, the execution of this idea could have been far better.

The story is important for two reasons. First, William Jennings Bryan was a truly great American, yet H.L. Mencken and "Inherit the Wind" make him look like a Bible-quoting buffoon. If you are not familiar with Bryan, ten minutes of research will reveal to you a very compassionate Christian, not the distorted cartoon drawn by Mencken and accepted by our popular culture.

Second, The Theory of Evolution has many flaws, yet the attitude of many adherents to this theory reminds one of some sort of blind secular faith. They seem to have an unwillingness to debate or discuss weaknesses in the theory. For them, the verdict is in and the time for debate is over. They feel that skeptics of their orthodoxy are either stupid or blinded by their own narrow religious beliefs. This unwillingness to address critics is unhealthy for science. "Monkey Business", especially in the chapters dealing with intelligent design, provides a much-needed challenge to evolution.

Unfortunately, the execution of the book suffers in three respects. First, the chapter design gets in the way of the narrative. Here is an outline of the chapters:
1. Context
2.-7. Trial narrative, including pre-trial.
8.-9. Context on evolution.
10.-13. Trial narrative continues.
14.-15. Context on battles over evolution up to and including 1950s.
16. Context on atheism and evolution.
17. Trial narrative, cross-examination of Bryan.
18. Context on journalists backing evolution.
19. Trial narrative, the last week and Bryan's death.
20. Post-trial narrative, consequences.
21. Contemporary opposition to evoluton.
22. Intelligent design.
23. Intelligent design vs. evolution in four states (contemporary).
24. Intelligent design advantages.
25.-26. Concluding chapters with "takeaways" for readers.

The organization of chapters is really messy and makes it hard for the reader to keep the story in the forefront. In general, it is a good idea to take readers away from the story for awhile to acquire some interesting context, but I felt really "jerked" away from the story and then back to it in this book. Chapters 14 through 16 should have been moved further back in the book, as this is too long of a break from the narrative and it deals with events that occurred much after the main story. Chapter 17 and 19 and 20 are surrounded by context chapters.

Dividing this book into four parts might have helped: Part I - The Story of the Trial - every chapter through 20 with the exception of 14-16; Part II - The Early Fight Against Evolution and Atheism - Chapter 14-16; Part III - The Contemporary Fight Against Evolution (including intelligent design) - Chapter 21-24; Part IV - Lessons for Readers (Takeaways). Since this is the history of the Scopes Trial and later battles against the theory of evolution, why not use time as your organizing principal?

Second, the writing style could be more lively. I'll leave this up to others to judge, but I felt the style could have been more appealing.

Lastly, Over 80 pages of Appendices seemed to be "filler", that I did not want to pay for when I purchased the book. Appendix C and D are related to the trial, but Appendix A and B are a transcript from a radio program and reprints from "World" magazine. Their inclusion seemed excessive.

This is an important book on an important event (Scopes Trial) and a vital issue (the question of human origins). I wish the execution had been better, but anyone interested in these two topics would still make a good investment of their time by reading "Monkey Business".
Duh!  Jun 1, 2006
The author essentially used the Scopes trial as a cover, because standing by itself nobody would buy or show interest in this poorly written, poorly thought out piece.

The only thing this book is REALLY about is selling "intelligent design" theory, which is as much a "scientific theory" as Flying Spaghetti Monsterism.

Can science be value-laden? Sure. (The quest for discovery of antibiotics is value laden, the value being that humans are more valuable than bacteria. Does that invalidate antibiotics?) Does science provide mechanisms to test and re-assess those values? Sure.

Does intelligent creation provide such tests? No. Hence, it is not a science.

End of story. And see? It was so much less painful than reading the circular reasoning of this dishonestly packaged work.
How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot 101  Feb 16, 2006

The first problem with this book is that it isn't quite what it seems to be.
The second problem is that the authors start out making a valid point - but end up shooting themselves in the collective foot.

The book isn't what it seems to be because it has a very strong subtext, which actually becomes the main text for more than 80 of the 326 pages (plus notes, bibliography and index).

Olasky and Perry start out with a reasonably interesting, readable but hardly inspiring account of the events surrounding the Scopes "monkey" trial of 1925. It covers the facts fairly competently, but adds very little of any consequence to the material which makes up the far more interesting and comprehensive account of the trial to be found in "Summer for the Gods" by Edward Larson.

But then, having presented this as a piece of genuine scholarship, the authors mutilate their collective foot by sliding off into the subtext: The Scopes Trial has been grieviously misrepresented in the plays and film versions of "Inherit the Wind"; and on page 181 we come to what seems to be the primary motivation for writing the book - a critique of evolutionism as a religion and the comparative value of the concept of intelligent design.

Hold it!
Where did that come from in an account of the events of 1925?

The front cover of the book says this is "The true story of the Scopes Trial". There's nothing about this being a defence of intelligent design except for the rather ambiguous final sentence of the back cover blurb:

"[the authors] show that advocates of creationism and intelligent design have nothing to be ashamed of."

How about the fact that this book is a real "pig in a poke"? In my personal opinion someone ought to feel some regret about that for a start.

My recommendation to anyone interested in the Scopes Trial would be to give this book a miss. There's plenty of information on the web about the myths surrounding the Scopes Trial. And as far as books are concerned, in my opinion you'd be a whole lot better off with Larson's "Summer for the Gods" where you'll get what you've paid for.


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