Summer for the Gods

The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion


By Edward J. Larson

Read by Brian Troxell

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The Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the Scopes Trial and the battle over evolution and creation in America’s schools

In the summer of 1925, the sleepy hamlet of Dayton, Tennessee, became the setting for one of the twentieth century’s most contentious courtroom dramas, pitting William Jennings Bryan and the anti-Darwinists against a teacher named John Scopes, represented by Clarence Darrow and the ACLU, in a famous debate over science, religion, and their place in public education. That trial marked the start of a battle that continues to this day-in cities and states throughout the country.

Edward Larson’s classic Summer for the Gods — winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History — is the single most authoritative account of this pivotal event. An afterword assesses the state of the battle between creationism and evolution, and points the way to how it might potentially be resolved.


  • "Edward Larson . . . tells the Scopes story with clarity and energy. . . . His book may be among the best one-volume primers on an American intellectual twilight."
    Boston Globe
  • "Larson's work is a thoroughly researched, thoroughly readable retelling of the tale. It leaves no subplot or character untouched. And when one considers how powerful the tensions underlying events 72 years ago remain today, Larson deserves hearty thanks. He's reintroducing us to vital history that too quickly transformed into fiction and myth. . . . The Scopes trial is still with us. Larson has elevated its presence from simplified myth to illuminating fact."
    Christian Science Monitor
  • "Larson's account is an unusually balanced and readable treatment of the Scopes trial and its complexities. . . . Even better is Larson's ability to humanize the trial and make it a tale of human folly. . . . The book is a good read about an important and often misunderstood subject. For his achievement, Larson deserves high praise."
    D. G. Hart, American Historical Review
  • "Forget the Lindberg kidnapping trial, the Manson trial, or even the O.J. trial. The real trial of the century was the Scopes Trial, and, although much has been written about it, nothing comes close to the definitive history written by Edward J. Larson."
  • "Edward Larson tells the true story of the Scopes trial brilliantly, and the truth is a lot more interesting than the myth that was presented to the public in Inherit the Wind."
    Philip Johnson, University of California-Berkeleyand author of Darwin on Trial
  • "Experts will learn much about the background and details of the Scopes trial; the general reader will be drawn into the trial as never before. Inherit the Wind, step aside!"
    Will Provine, Cornell University
  • "A marvelous remake of the drama in Dayton. Summer for the Gods accomplishes the extraordinary feat of teaching us a good deal that is new about the trial and its significance, including the behind-the-scenes strategizing of the lawyers, the civil liberties stakes in the outcome, and the realities of its impact on the teaching of evolution in the United States."
    Daniel J. Kevles, author of The Physicists: The Historyof a Scientific Community in Modern America

On Sale
Oct 3, 2017
Hachette Audio

Edward J. Larson

About the Author

Edward J. Larson is the author of twelve books, including The Return of George Washington and The Magnificent Catastrophe, and the recipient of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in History. He is the University Professor of History and holds the Darling Chair in Law at Pepperdine University.

Learn more about this author