Edward John Larson is an American historian and legal scholar. 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. He continues to serve as a Senior Fellow of the University of Georgia's Institute of Higher Education, and is currently a visiting professor at Stanford Law School.
He 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. The book argues that Inherit the Wind misrepresented the actual Scopes Trial. Unlike in that play and movie, in which reason and tolerance triumph over religiously-motivated, unsophisticated anti-evolutionists, Larson's book portrays the trial as an opening salvo in an enduring twentieth-century cultural war involving powerful national forces in science, religion, law and politics. "Indeed," he concludes in the book, "the issues raised by the Scopes trial and legend endure precisely because they embody the characteristically American struggle between individual liberty and majoritarian democracy, and cast it in the timeless debate over science and religion."