Monday, July 21, 2008

"The Devil in Dover" by Lauri Lebo

For those of you who like a quick and dirty review -- Excellent Book!

For those who like a little more, I'll get the praise out and then head more into the meat. I enjoyed Ms. Lebo's first-hand account of the what happened in Dover. Not only is it well written, but it offered perspectives that you cannot get from reading trial transcripts or even reading the local papers before, during, and after the trial. The only way I think you could get any better picture is if you were a Dover resident and were in the middle of the action yourself. I recommend anyone interested in the Trial read this book. You will get a much more personal view of all that happened and a deeper appreciation for the personalities involved.

As you might be able to tell, I did enjoy this book. At times heart-rendering and at other times infuriating. Once the trial started I had trouble putting it down. I finished it at about 4AM, which might give you a clue how good it is!

It's not a very long book, only about 250 pages, but what she says doesn't require more. She dives briefly into the people involved, some personality and some education and background. She could have written so much more, but it wasn't really needed. She managed to give you a feeling for the personalities involved that went beyond the normal brief blurb in a newspaper. She get you insight into the workings of the Thomas More Law Center and the Discovery Institute, in addition to the obvious subject, the Dover Area School Board.

She also added a very human element, something you don't get in newspapers, how she herself felt and how the trial impacted her personally. It helped bring the story together on a level that nothing had for me previously. I mean there have been very good, factual books on the case, but this book made it personal.

She laid bare not only the actions of the school board members, but their motivations. She showed us some of the weaknesses in journalistic coverage and also its strengths. When the two journalists were accused of lying! That part of the book had me riveted! They handled it with such professionalism, that she made me proud to know such people exist in a trade that doesn't get much positive press itself. Her own efforts against an editor trying to get her to 'balance' her coverage more was spot on! As was her recollection of the trial, it was fascinating without being as long winded as the trial itself certain was -- I did read the transcripts, all the transcripts! She also took us past the trial and saw some of the aftermath, for herself personally and also the others involved.

It's that understanding of character that has me place this book well above the other two I have read on the trial. I enjoyed the legal machinations in "40 days and 40 nights"by Matthew Chapman and the more extensive coverage of how Dover fits into the larger Evolution/Creationism debate in Edward Humes "Monkey Girl", but the personal nature of the characterizations Ms. Lebo describes really brought the trial home for me.

I recommend this book to anyone! Here is the Amazon link to it, as a hint :-)

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