40 Days and 40 Nights
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40 Days and 40 Nights

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  241 ratings  ·  42 reviews
In this fascinating story of evolution, religion, politics, and personalities, Matthew Chapman captures the story behind the headlines in the debate over God and science in America.

Kitzmiller v. Dover Board of Education, decided in late 2005, pitted the teaching of intelligent design (sometimes known as "creationism in a lab coat") against the teaching of evolution. Matthe...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published April 1st 2007)
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Eric_W
Matthew Chapman, author of Trials of the Monkey An Accidental Memoir, and great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin, had moved to the United States, tired of the English predilection for class distinctions. Never a diligent student, he fell in love with the story of evolution and visited Dayton, TN, home of the famous Scopes trial. "In my mind the anti-evolution movement remained a quaint Southern aberration resulting from a combination of moonshine and religions of the snake-fondling type. I had d...more
Christina
Nov 03, 2008 Christina rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody...
This was a very interesting read - I've been to lectures on intelligent design where the entire crowd was arguing against it and I must admit that I was wondering how anybody with a higher education could think this was science and that it as a better explanation than Darwin's theory of evolution.
So when I found out that a school board in the US actually did everything they could to include intelligent design - and even creationism - in the education and that parents had to sue the board to avoi...more
Jojo
I was eager to read this book after watching the NOVA episode: Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial. It is by far the most interesting NOVA I have ever seen, following the attempt by the Dover, PA school board to introduce creationism into the science curriculum via "intelligent design" and the subsequent lawsuit and trial. The NOVA episode was great because it covered important issues of the day (the current attempts to attack science and the science curriculum), fascinating science (expl...more
Derek
Fantastic recounting of the Dover School District trial in which a bunch of fundamentalist assholes on the school board decided that it was necessary to teach "intelligent design" alongside evolution in science class so that the kids "could get both sides of the story" and "decide for themselves." Right. See, evolution is just a theory! And the Earth is 6,000 years old!

Chapman gives a blow-by-blow account of how the attorneys of Pepper Hamilton, a Philadelphia-based firm, ritually slaughtered th...more
Elliot Ratzman
Dover, PA was the site of an extraordinary trial over the teaching of Intelligent Design—Creationism in scientific drag—in high school biology courses. Chapman, a descendent of Charles Darwin, covered the trial. This is a page-turning account of the trial and its personalities. If you don’t know anything about the attack on evolution, this might be the book to begin with. Chapman lards his coverage of the trial with impressionistic, if charitable, descriptions of the main players. Even so, the f...more
Dan
This book popped up on my Amazon recomendations, probably as a result of Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion." It is the story of the 2005 Dover, PA Intelligent Design trial and, interestingly enough, it was written by Charles Darwin's great-great grandson, Matthew Chapman. When I read the description, or for that matter the subtitle, I was intrigued and the book didn't dissapoint.

Chapman has an easy going, irreverant style that makes the story a quick read. His empathy with the plaintiffs in the...more
Sarah
An extremely interesting and terrifying account of the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Board of Education trial which ruled against the teaching of creationist theories on public schools. The most fascinating parts of which were the defendants (the creationists) own shocking incompetence during the trial (two of the witnesses lied under oath), the final decision of the judge who was a republican nominated by George W. Bush, and the ferocity and hypocrisy of the creationists on the school board. My favorite...more
Sara
I have to wonder what the hell I was doing in 2005 that I completely missed this case. When several local residents decided to sue the school board of Dover High School in PA over their attempt to have intelligent design added to the biology curriculum it garnered more than a little national attention.

With an occasionally rambling, but ultimately reader friendly approach screen writer and author Matthew Chapman manages to capture the personalities of all the major players, the highest and lowes...more
Lisa
Great book describing the Kitzmiller vs. School Board in Dover, PA and the evolution-intelligent design (reason vs. faith). The defense was so poorly prepared and incapable of putting together an argument that it is amazing this went to trial, but it was a test case intended to attract national attention. For the most part, the "characters" are very engaging. The story is well-told and the author, the great-great grandson of Charles Darwin) interjects some humorous observations in its telling. T...more
John
Not since early Hunter S. Thompson or Tom Wolfe have I had as much fun reading a witty, provocative piece of journalistic writing as I've had in screenwriter Matthew Chapman's "40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, GOD, OxyContin AND OTHER Oddities ON TRIAL IN Pennsylvania". It's an enthralling, often humorous tome, that owes more to the mordant humor of Frank McCourt, in his bestselling memoirs "Angela's Ashes" and "Teacher Man", than it does to the rather dry, but never dull, pros...more
Dan
I just grabbed this one on a whim while dicking around in the library. I found it highly readable, funny, and aggravating at times.

Matthew Chapman is Darwin's great-great-grandson and makes a living as a journalist and screenwriter rather than a biologist. While he's always recognized the significance of his famous ancestor's work, he rarely gave the "evolution vs. creation" controversy much attention. That is, until schlepping over to the good ol' U.S. of A. to cover the now infamous Kitzmiller...more
Will Byrnes
Chapman, a great grandson of Darwin, set himself to report on the modern day Scopes Monkey Trial held in Dover Pennsylvania in 2005, when the local school board attempted to insinuate the notion of intelligent design into the science curriculum of their district. He offers a look at the personalities involved in addition to the political and social forces at play. I was reminded of Capote painting a landscape with the residents of Holcomb, Kansas. He lacks Capote’s singular genius for language,...more
Tom Roche
Wow! I didn't think a book detailing the creationism/evolution trial could be a page-turner - especially knowing the outcome - but Chapman's book kept me glued to all of the drama! He really delved deep into all the players on both sides, sitting down to get to know them (and their inner motivations) either during the trial or right after. Lots of Chapman humor throughout which actually made me laugh out loud. He mentions shooting a documentary during the trial, I'll have to check out if that ev...more
Michael
An exceptionally well written account of the Evolution/Intelligent Design Trial in Dover PA. Chapman is a witty and inciteful reporter of the events and the people that animated them. He also provides one of the great arguments against design, pointing out that if one infers that a watch on the beach had a designer, one also has to admit that the watch as a product is the result of an evolutionary process of mechanization. I don't typically like current events based books, because I fear they wi...more
Fred Kohn
I bought this book for two bucks as a library discard. It looked from the cover like it might be a good blow by blow description of the trial. Instead it turned out to be a much more personal book, and therefore more interesting. True, the author quotes bits of testimony that he feels illuminate the course of the trial, but the book is far more about the background of the combatants at the trial. One really gets a sense from this book what a fiasco this whole trial was- rivaling even that most f...more
Mike
If you are looking for a fair presentation of both side in the Dover trial, this book is not for you. Chapman is flippant and more interested in making the reader laugh than educating them. I should have known better, the book was endorsed by Christopher Hitchens and that alone should have tipped me off to the nature of the writing. Not the historical treatment I was looking for.
Michael
Interesting perspective on this over-reported story. If you have read many books about the subject, you may find one or two new things here. His conclusion is also interesting, especially if you are into ideas which have the potential to piss people off on either side of the conservative/liberal divide.
Jane Snyder
I felt I learned a lot about the people and the issues, and really enjoyed this review and analysis of the Dover, PA School District educational curriculum trial re Evolution/Intelligent Design. Interesting, thought provoking, and even humorous. Great book.
Sarah Pascarella
This was a big disappointment. I had followed the trial in Dover, Pennsylvania, when it made national news--the school board voted to introduce a creationist text to the ninth grade biology curriculum, as a result, some parents and teachers sued them on the basis of keeping religion out of the public school system. Fascinating, right? I was interested to get more insights on the inner workings of this trial.

When Chapman gets out of the way of the story/events, it's an intriguing read, full of bi...more
Jim
Matthew Chapman, the great-great-grandson of Darwin, attended the entire Kitzmiller v. Dover intelligent design trial, and has written a book that informs, entertains, and humanizes all of the characters of the trial. Chapman engaged in interviews with every major player in the trial, including the plaintiffs, defendants, lawyers, reporters, witnesses, townspeople, and the judge himself, and does a good job of presenting each of them, the history leading up to the trial, and the arguments made....more
Kcatty
I found out about this book through the PBS episode "Intelligent Design On Trial" (which is very good and y'all should go watch here). Although it definitely gave a very good background for the trial, and it provides some very good scientific and theological arguments against intelligent design - and as such, for evolution - I felt that the author could have addressed his bias more thoroughly and dealt the defendants as much attention as the plaintiffs.

It probably didn't help the book's case tha...more
Ian Baaske
Half-flippant, half-sweet overview of the Kitzmiller vs Dover Area School District court case, in which the school board attempted to introduce so-called Intelligent Design as an alternative to evolution. When I first started reading it, I got violently ill and couldn't stop throwing up for 24 hours. (I don't believe it was related to the book.) On a second try, I liked it a lot more. It's pleasant and it can be funny. Matthew Chapman is a filmmaker by trade, He does a good enough job with expo...more
Melody
Chapman, who is the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin, here writes about the 2005 Dover PA trial regarding the school board's championing of Intelligent Design. He covers the trial with an old-fashioned reporter's flair. The cast of characters was so huge as to be hard to keep track of, though that's hardly Chapman's fault. Interesting throughout, except where he draws parallels to the Scopes trial- that part didn't work as well for me, I kept getting lost. What I really liked was Chapman's...more
Kate
"40 Days and 40 Nights" is a unique combination of character sketch and court journalism. Chapman conveys the core of the case and the important court events clearly, but engagingly. At the same time, he weaves in information about the personalities and lives of the plaintiffs and defendants (and their lawyers). Although it's clear partway through where his politics lie, Chapman does a commendable job of presenting all the main "characters" in a fair and unbiased way. His writing is clear, inter...more
Leigh
It was a slow read until you got to the defendent's portion of the book. He has a colorful way of decribing those involved (his background is in filmmaking) but can detract from the issues. Overall, I thought it was interesting and informative. Made a good bookclub book selection because of the topic-even those who's ideals agree with one another often disagreed when it came to discussing their stance on ID being taught in the schools.
Juan
A humane and humorous account of the Kitzmiller v. Dover Board of Education "intelligent design" trial of 2005. Chapman's writing is clear and easy to follow even when he's describing some of the details involved in evolutionary theory. It's all explained in layman's terms. The last chapter, "Revelation," is an incredibly compelling summary of the state of American society today. HE should be running on a ticket in this election!
Lauren
A personal account of the Dover intelligent design trial, written by the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin himself. A different and well-portrayed perspective, with less political correctness than the mainline media or even the NOVA episode, "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial." It just made me wish so, so, so much that I had seen The Daily Show episodes broadcast during the time of the trail...
Peter
Neither side of this intelligent design debate are evil/good enough to make a compelling courtroom drama. The people supporting ID are sad and ignorant, and the people on the side of reality are just regular folks - none of whom are very interesting. I'm certain it's true to the story, but the story wasn't book-worthy.
Kitty
Not a great piece of literature, but a humanizing look at the Kitzmiller vs. Dover (evolution vs. intelligent design) trail in 2005, written by the great-great grandson of Charles Darwin. Having known nothing about the trial prior to picking up the book, it was a page-turner for me.
Keets


Fascinating read and gives insight into some of the deep divides in our beliefs and how those divides play out in real life. Anyone who can wholeheartedly disregard science without actually looking at the evidence is absolutely disenfranchising themselves.
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Matthew Chapman lives and works as a barrister in London. His principal areas of practice comprise personal injury and claims with a private international law element. He is the author of Fraudulent Claims: Deceit, Insurance and Practice (2007) and The Fast Track and Personal Injury Claims (1999), and has contributed numerous articles to a range of journals and periodicals.
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