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Paperback Inherit the Wind Book

ISBN: 0345501039

ISBN13: 9780345501035

Inherit the Wind

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

A classic work of American theatre, based on the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925, which pitted Clarence Darrow against William Jennings Bryan in defense of a schoolteacher accused of teaching the theory of evolution The accused was a slight, frightened man who had deliberately broken the law. His trial was a Roman circus. The chief gladiators were two great legal giants of the century. Like two bull elephants locked in mortal combat, they bellowed and...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A True Classic

I didn't read Inherit the Wind in school. Maybe because I went to Catholic schools? But I can see why many people did and still do. This is a true classic, concerning a gigantic human and national issue, one which well defines America still. Based on the Scopes Monkey Trial, this is a spectacular drama, full of people from the town of Hillsboro (a fictional setting) and outsiders, converging to witness the trial of a man who dared to teach or suggest Darwinian evolutionary theory, and the two lawyers who argue for the law of God (and here the law of the state) and the laws of Science, respectively. This is an important, positive play because it is about choice. I wish I could have been part of a class discussion of the play, and to see how other people, especially kids take this story. I read the Dramatists Play Service edition, which features extensive stage directions that take up equal space to the dialogue itself. The scope of the production is evident, with about 30 speaking parts and dozens of other bystandards. For this reason I wonder if another edition is less extensive... But the stage directions can be skimmed, and if you are reading for the heart if it, they should be. The heart being the trial scenes themselves, particularly when defence attorney Henry Drummond cross examines his counterpart Matt Brady, an avowed Biblical expert. Highly recommended. The kind of play and story I'd like to re-read once a year...

"He that Troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind."

On a number of levels, this is a great story. Some people see it only as a take on the Scopes trial. The characters are fictitious, but the story is largely based on facts. The readers that only see this as a book about the monkey trial miss the point. Those who view this book as promoting evolutionism, see Chrisitians portrayed as narrow-minded and intolerant. This is no more of a stereotype than a Middle Easterner playing the role of a terrorist in a James Bond film. In the Scopes Trial, the Chirstians were intolerant of evolution being taught. Tolerant Christians, which still comprise the majority, would not exactly play the role well. The point of the story is clearly laid out in the final pages of the book. The agnostic defense attorney Henry Drummond (who represents Clarence Darrow in the actual Scopes Trial) is talking to the arrogant reporter E. K. Hornbeck. Hornbeck assumes Drummond agrees with his view that the peopleof Hillsboro are backwards and ignorant in their Christian beliefs. Drummond lashes out at Hornbeck, telling him the people of Hillsboro have every right to have their beliefs. In the same way, people have a right to believe in evolution. The 1st Amendment provides freedom of religion, or freedom not to subscribe to any particular religious beliefs. This book is a powerful statement not about evolution, but the right to think. Whether you fall on either side of the argument for evolution or have compromised between the sides, the story is a lesson worth noting.

One of the Modern Theatre's Best

Though it is based on the Scopes Trial, which took place in Tennessee in 1925, INHERIT THE WIND is essentially a work of fiction; even the names of the principal characters have been changed (John Scopes is now Bertram Cates; Clarence Darrow is Henry Drummond; William Jennings Bryan becomes Matthew Harrison Brady). In addition, the setting of the play is non-specific: a certain southern town, "not long ago." IDEAS are what the play is about, and like most great works of art, INHERIT THE WIND does not offer simple answers. Just as Drummond argues for "the right to think," so does the play allow the reader/audience member to consider many possibilities. For instance, in the play's final moments Drummond places both a copy of Darwin's book and a Bible in his briefcase, then leaves the courtroom. This suggests the possibility that science and religion might be compatible. Because he is willing to consider both theories, Drummond is very unlike both Brady, who believed in a literal interpretation of the Bible, and the cynical reporter E.K. Hornbeck (originally H.L. Mencken -- the "Greek chorus character," or commentator, who speaks in free verse), who completely rejects Brady's ideas. It is in fact Brady who emerges as a true tragic figure; it is also Brady who undergoes change and is therefore the most complex character in the play. INHERIT THE WIND has everything: a tragic hero, colorful characters and dialogue, gripping courtroom scenes, and a skillfully foreshadowed, climactic death. Also recommended: the 1960 film version, starring Spencer Tracy as Drummond and Frederic March as Brady.

Good reading

I'd have to say that this is one of the best books i've read this year. No, it is not a historical account, and I am somewhat surprised that people looked at it that way at all. I think it portrays the "bible beaters" as ignorant for a reason: fundamentalism tends to breed ignorance. Oh, and maybe I'm the only one who noticed, but there are still people who refuse to think about evolution at all and instead take the word of the Bible literally without thinking. In fact, there are many such people, especially in my home state of Utah, so this book was particularly meaningful to me because of my experience in junior high/high school. (it is also good to remember that fundamentalism is not limited to religion.)This is not to say that it is a proponent of atheism, either. If you notice, all of the characters believe in God with the exception of Hornbeck, and he isn't any sort of hero. Rather, the heros are those who can think for themselves and balance science with religion without harming the work of either. Evolution and Creation are simply a structure in which to discuss the issue of free thinking. That is what this book/play is about -- the ability to think for oneself.Happy reading!Scott

History into drama

"Inherit the Wind," the play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, premiered on Broadway during the 1955-56 theater season. But the play's genesis (no pun intended) lies in the events of 1925. In that year, a high school teacher named John Scopes was put on trial in Tennessee for violating a law that forbade the teaching of Darwinian evolution. With William Jennings Bryan for the prosecution and Clarence Darrow for the defense, this became one of the most important trials in United States history. The trial remains a key battle in the ongoing war of biblical literalism versus science and reason.The play freely adapts the details of history. The authors even change the names of the principal characters involved: Bryan becomes "Matthew Harrison Brady," Darrow becomes "Henry Drummond," etc. But the core events of that historic trial remain firmly embedded in the play."Inherit" is an excellent play that is very readable in book form. Lawrence and Lee write superb dialogue, and create vivid characters in Brady, Drummond, and the rest. The play is an effective satire of religious fundamentalism.With the continuing efforts of religious fundamentalists to force their views on the general public (both in the United States and elsewhere), "Inherit the Wind" remains as relevant as ever. Highly recommended.
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