"Trials of the Monkey" Matthew Chapman

Posted on Fri 22 August 2008 in ClubReading

In 1925 John Thomas Scoopes, a High School teacher in Dayton, TN was tried in court for teaching Darwin's Theory of Evolution contrary to a recently passed Tennessee law. The trial was a media freak show full of bombastic speeches and self-righteous characters.

Many books have been written about the Scoopes trial, not so much because of the content, but because of the amazing cast of characters. William Jennings Bryan, a three-times Democratic Presidential Candidate, one-time Secretary of State, and at the end of his career, an evangelical fundamentalist. George W. Rappleyea, an Engineer in the failing town of Dayton saw the commercial importance of the trial to his little town. And to round out the cast, Clarence Darrow, possibly the best know lawyer in American history, certainly one of the most significant.

Matthew Chapman is the great great grandson of Charles Darwin. He originally set out to write a journalistic report of the re-enactments of the Scoopes Trial held in Dayton every year, but somewhere during the writing that changed and a story about Mr. Chapman came out.

Much like the trial, the book is paradoxical and funny while at the same time showing great depth and raising many provocative questions to the reader.

The book is well written and very engaging. I highly recommend it.