The Devil in Dover

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The Devil in Dover
The Devil in Dover by Lauri Lebo Book-Cover.jpg
Author Lauri Lebo
Subject Intelligent design, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District
Published 2008 (The New Press)
Pages 256
ISBN 978-1-59558-208-9
345.73/0288 22
LC Class KF228.K589 L43 2008

The Devil in Dover: An Insider's Story of Dogma v. Darwin in Small-Town America is a 2008 book by journalist Lauri Lebo about the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District intelligent design trial, through her own perspective as a local reporter on the trial as she confronted her own attitudes about organized religion and her father who was a fundamentalist Christian.


Lebo explores the behind-the-scenes events that led to the filing of a lawsuit by Tammy Kitzmiller and ten other parents in Dover, Pennsylvania in 2005 and covers the events of the trial up to and after the verdict for the plaintiffs by Judge John E. Jones III, with an emphasis on what the case meant for the citizens of Dover.[1]

She deals with the involvement of outside parties like the Discovery Institute, Thomas More Law Center, ACLU, the scientific, religious and philosophical issues raised by the intelligent design movement, and the pitfalls for journalists covering a controversy like Kitzmiller, particularly small-town reporters.[2]

Lebo details her personal experience of the trial, including her interactions with her fundamentalist father, who favored the defendants.


The New York Times reviewer Charles McGrath recommended The Devil in Dover as a starting place to study

... the great American tradition of anti-intellectualism, which seems to be getting stronger, not weaker, even as the country supposedly becomes better educated, and about the strange way we’re turning the court system, of all places, into a referee on scientific principles.[3]

In the Texas Observer, Ruth Pennebaker called it an "excellent, troubling book" and added:

Reading The Devil in Dover, I saw members of my extended family, best friends from my earliest years, neighbors, shop owners, acquaintances, people I went to church and Sunday school with when I was a child, people who passed the communion tray to me once a month when we all knelt at the altar. ... I love many of those people, and I know they love me. But our hearts harden toward one another on issues like evolution, intellectual freedom, science, and tolerance toward different views and people.[4]

In an article in the Columbia Journalism Review on the "religion beat," Tim Townsend praised the book for giving readers a feeling of what it was like leading up to the trial and immediately afterwards, but criticized it for having unnecessary subplots about Lebo's personal experiences with her father and her own beliefs.[5]

The Patriot-News in Harrisburg took the opposite tack, saying "This is the fourth book about the Dover case, but Lebo avoids the problems of her predecessors, who didn't know the territory as well and sometimes bogged down in courtroom testimony"[6]

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Slack, Gordy (2007). The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything: Evolution, Intelligent Design, and a School Board in Dover, PA. Jossey-Bass. ISBN 0-7879-8786-7.