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Edward J. Larson is an American historian, legal scholar and New York Times bestselling author. He is university professor of history and holds the Hugh & Hazel Darling Chair in Law at Pepperdine University. He was formerly Herman E. Talmadge Chair of Law and Richard B. Russell Professor of American History at the University of Georgia.


Larson received the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for History for his book Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion. He has written two acclaimed books on George Washington. The Return of George Washington has been adapted into a BARDEUM experience for the Washington Monument. Larson has frequently appeared on American television and radio including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, C-SPAN, PBS, NPR, and The History Channel

Retiring Becomes Him an audio and visual tour for the Washington Monument in Washington D.C.

It was and remains one of the most remarkable events in the history of war, revolution, and politics. General George Washington retired. He did not need to – not by any means. He had just reoccupied New York from the departing British and, by doing so, completed the liberation of the United States from its colonial masters – the first successful modern war of independence. This feat made Washington a national hero and global celebrity.

Some inside the American army and others outside it wanted him to remain in command of the troops and perhaps take over the nation as some sort of king.


But on December 23, 1783, General George Washington retired. The world was shocked. Step inside the story of how one man changed the course of history.  


The Return of George Washington (2014).


'After eight years of leading the fledgling colonies in their war for independence, George Washington resigned as commander-in-chief in order to return to private life. Yet the difficulties of establishing a new nation drew Washington back, and historian Larson, Pulitzer Prize-winner for Summer for the Gods, vividly recounts those events that led to Washington's election as the first president of the United States . . . Larson's compulsively readable history shines new light on a little-discussed period of Washington's life, illustrating his role as the indispensable American.'' --Publishers Weekly

An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science, 2011:


"Larson succeeds in [his] approach to the popular subject of polar exploration by wrapping the science in plenty of dangerous drama to keep readers engaged." ---Booklist

A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America’s First Presidential Campaign. , 2007.:

"Pulitzer Prize-winner Larson vividly recounts America's first overtly partisan election.The colorful cast of Founders included Madison, Jay, Pinckney, Monroe and Samuel Adams; the behind-the-scenes machinations of High Federalist leader Alexander Hamilton and Republican organizer Aaron Burr were especially dramatic. Larson does justice to them all and demonstrates his storytelling mastery....[A] smartly conceived, beautifully wrought campaign history, bound to entertain and inform." -- Kirkus Reviews


The Creation-Evolution Debate: Historical Perspectives. (2007).  

[A] handy and timely volume . . . Designed for a broad audience . . . the writing is lucid and concise, and a general reader could easily finish it in a short afternoon in a comfy chair or a long commute on an uncomfortable train. . . . Engaging, compelling, and insightful . . . A dandy fifty-five page sketch to the debates . . . It is an excellent choice for general readers interested in a brief overview of the subject."Journal of Southern Religion

Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory

"Infectious good reading. The prose is limpid, the chapters are luminous."
—James Moore, co-author of Darwin

Evolution’s Workshop: God and Science on the Galapagos Islands.  (2001).

". . .a fascinating examination of the historical importance of the Galapagos Islands (to Darwin and others), as well as current threats."  -- --Seattle Post Intelligencer


The History of Science and Religion in the Western Tradition: An Encyclopedia."  2000. Co-Author


Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion. (1997)

Pulitzer Prize Winner


"Larson . . . gracefully documents the history of Darwinism, the theory of evolution and the fits and starts through which evolution became pitted against the Bible and fundamentalist religion. Bryan's and Darrow's ghosts still haunt us, and the Scopes trial still holds resonance, as we continue to litigate the role of religion in public life and the power of the state to prescribe what shall be taught in public schools."―New York Times

"Edward Larson . . . tells the Scopes story with clarity and energy. . . . His book may be among the best one-volume primers on an American intellectual twilight."―Boston Globe

Sex, Race, and Science: Eugenics in the Deep South. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.

"Larson's thoughtful analysis of issues involved when the state intervenes in the reproductive decisions of its citizens is both timely and persuasive."  Susan E. Lederer Journal of American History

Trial and Error: The American Controversy Over Creation and Evolution.  1985, 

"In this absorbing and well-researched book, Edward Larson analyzes [his subject] with clarity and control. He ably illuminates the legal and constitutional issues that the controversy has raised, yet he is admirably aware that what transpires in statehouses and law courts usually reflects larger social forces....[A] thoughtful and arresting book."--Daniel J. Kevles, The New Republic

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