In 1925, the sleepy town of Dayton, Tennessee was the scene of one of the most famous trials in American history, when high-school teacher John Scopes was tried for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in his classroom.
Edgar Lustgarten’s dramatization The Monkeyville Case takes us into the courtroom, where the famous litigators Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan waged their rhetorical battle for science and the bible, respectively.
Lustgarten’s performance of his work and point of view is distinctly British, but the performances of Ohio-born defense attorney Darrow and Illinois-born prosecutor Bryan, in heated courtroom exchanges, are both convincing and regionally appropriate. This dramatization is sure to delight history buffs and fans of courtroom procedurals.
In 1925, Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, two of the greatest lawyers ever, joined battle in the case of a young schoolmaster charged with teaching the theory of evolution. An historic and very entertaining trial resulted.
I didn't expect to get chapter and verse on this trial when I downloaded this title, so I was not disappointed. However, don't be trapped into expecting too much, either. This is a fun and entertaining hop, skip and lope through parts of the trial, some lovely purple verse and the occasional irate outburst. It is not the heart of the matter, the guts of the trial or an explanation of its importance in the pantheon of great trials. Some "great" trials just weren't that great. Some are boring. Some are frustrating. Some are plain stupid. However, what makes them "great" is that they influenced a generation or generations. This trial fits that bill.
Most people know the story. Mr Skopes, a teacher, flaunted a law that prohibited him teaching matters inconsistent with the Bible. It was an act of civil disobedience. Darrow (then in his 70s) took the trial to advance his agnostic agenda. William Jennings Brian took the prosecution to advance his fundamental teaching agenda. Each was utterly outrageous to each other and, at times, to the Court. All that makes for entertainment better than HBO!
Lustgarten, the collator of this series of Famous Trials, is also the reader. He does a more than serviceable job with the characterisations. Unfortunately, the production values are a bit wanting (it's not a flash recording), but the content makes up for that provided you listen carefully. In my opinion, this is worth the listen, and not just for lawyers or the clergy.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This is my second in the Famous Trials series. I did not know anything about this before, but I feel that its relevant even now, ie what should we impose on Teachers.