Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation…

Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation (original 2013; edition 2013)

by Dan Fagin

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1532678,096 (4.23)49
Title:Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation
Authors:Dan Fagin
Info:Bantam (2013), Hardcover, 560 pages
Collections:Early Reviewers, Your library

Work details

Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin (2013)



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 49 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Such a compelling story and demonstrates a lot about the limits of environmental litigation. I have a lot of family in Toms River and the surrounding area and had heard a little bit about increased rates of kids with medical problems, but had no idea about what had actually gone on there. The author was able to make complicated science and statistical issues understandable and frame the facts in a compelling way. I was a little unsatisfied by the ending, but that is more because real life doesn’t always lend itself to tidy resolutions. I also really appreciated the map in the front of the book which helped me keep track of where things were happening (and relate it to my own mental map of the area). ( )
  DDay | Sep 10, 2015 |
Looking for a place where they can manufacture fabric and industrial dyes and dump its chemical waste easily with little questioning from the public, a large chemical company (the name changes several times), constructs a plant in a small town known as Toms River in the 1950s. The plant is able to dump its chemical for years without question, even turning the river purple at one point, thanks in part to the silence of government adage vids. Later come cancer clusters, public outrage and investigations, buit takes decades. It's horrifying and facinating. The author intersperses the modern events with the history of science and chemistry that had a direct impCt on those events. It's an interesting story also because the expectation is for a clear resolution, which doesn't come. The results of the studies and negotiations and everything are vague and frustrating. People have to figure out their own sense of salvation in the end. ( )
  andreablythe | Jun 22, 2015 |
A gripping, terrifying true account of a corporate-made environmental and public health catastrophe, aided and abetted by the willful ignorance of local government. An exemplary work of research and reporting. ( )
  Sullywriter | May 22, 2015 |
A sad commentary on how short sighted we have been when it comes to the environment. Will we survive the damage "progress" is doing to our world? The thought that struck me as I read this book is can we ever clean up the toxic messes we make? Aren't we just shif ting it from one place to another and spending billions of dollars doing it? Informative and thought provoking. ( )
  sharlene_w | Apr 25, 2015 |
Through the benefices of the Goodreads giveaway program, I enjoyed the great good fortune of receiving a free copy of Dan Fagin's landmark exploration of a fascinating example of the toxic effects of the byproducts of corporate activities on the the people who make their lives in the vicinity of those activities. The quality and depth of Fagin's journalism in Tom's River meets the highest standards; one would expect no less from a Pulitzer Prize winner. I think it bears pointing out that what distinguishes Tom's River as a historic achievement is not Fagin's exemplary skill in providing readers with a clear and compelling account of a tremendously complex and unfamiliar topic; rather, it is my strong view that Fagin has written a book of tremendous social and political importance that speaks to issues central to contemporary life in our country on an unprecedented level.

The particular subject of the book is cancer clustering in the wake of long-term business practices that ultimately result in a toxic environmental effect in the vicinity of the community of Tom's River, New Jersey.

I found this read truly inspiring. That said, it's worth noting that the problems faced by the people of Tom's River have long inspired my passionate interest; I hope to invest myself personally and professionally in addressing some of these particular issues. So, while this is a brilliantly crafted, important book for all fellow citizens to read, I admit I am not sure how fascinating, let alone deeply moving, the material will be. I am confident it will hold your attention throughout and engage your sympathies; Fagin's writing is well-tuned to effect these ends.

So what critical truths does Fagin illuminate that make this a must-read, beyond it's ability to keep your interest and make you care about the people at the heart of the events described? To keep things simple, I'll mention some particular issues that Fagin addresses not singly but in complex connection with other relevant realities; for example:
--the effect of industrial activity on cancer risk and our lifespan and its quality generally;
--the difficulty of assigning responsibility for any impact on our collective health as a practical matter;
--the systems that allow impact on citizens to spiral out of control, unnoticed, so as to evade checks and balances that otherwise negotiate between personal and economic interests in the course of human affairs;
--the resistance among political and business interests to seeing the cost of damage to human lives paid back or at least systematically eliminated, and moreover;
--the incompetence of government and industry systems to effectively grapple with major effects of complex causation regardless of the best intentions upon discovery of those effects.

This is all too dry and general. Read Fagin; I can't do this book justice here, I'm afraid. Thanks for reading my attempt at a review; I hope it is somewhat informative at least. ( )
1 vote kara.shamy | Oct 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
"..surely a new classic of science reporting"
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 055380653X, Hardcover)

The riveting true story of sixty years in the life of a small town ravaged by industrial pollution, Toms River melds hard-hitting investigative reporting, a fascinating scientific detective story, and an unforgettable cast of characters into a sweeping narrative in the tradition of A Civil Action, The Emperor of All Maladies, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

One of New Jersey’s seemingly innumerable quiet seaside towns, Toms River became the unlikely setting for a decades-long drama that culminated in 2001 with one of the largest legal settlements in the annals of toxic dumping. A town that would rather have been known for its Little League World Series champions ended up making history for an entirely different reason: a notorious cluster of childhood cancers scientifically linked to local air and water pollution. For years, large chemical companies had been using Toms River as their private dumping ground, burying tens of thousands of leaky drums in open pits and discharging billions of gallons of acid-laced wastewater into the town’s namesake river.

In an astonishing feat of investigative reporting, prize-winning journalist Dan Fagin recounts the sixty-year saga of rampant pollution and inadequate oversight that made Toms River a cautionary example for fast-growing industrial towns from South Jersey to South China. He tells the stories of the pioneering scientists and physicians who first identified pollutants as a cause of cancer, and brings to life the everyday heroes in Toms River who struggled for justice: a young boy whose cherubic smile belied the fast-growing tumors that had decimated his body from birth; a nurse who fought to bring the alarming incidence of childhood cancers to the attention of authorities who didn’t want to listen; and a mother whose love for her stricken child transformed her into a tenacious advocate for change.

A gripping human drama rooted in a centuries-old scientific quest, Toms River is a tale of dumpers at midnight and deceptions in broad daylight, of corporate avarice and government neglect, and of a few brave individuals who refused to keep silent until the truth was exposed.

Advance praise for Toms River
Toms River is an epic tale for our chemical age. Dan Fagin has combined deep reporting with masterful storytelling to recount an extraordinary battle over cancer and pollution in a New Jersey town. Along the way—as we meet chemists, businessmen, doctors, criminals, and outraged citizens—we see how Toms River is actually a microcosm of a world that has come to depend on chemicals without quite comprehending what they might do to our health.”—Carl Zimmer, author of A Planet of Viruses and Parasite Rex
“At once intimate and objective, Toms River is the heartbreaking account of one town's struggle with a legacy of toxic pollution. Dan Fagin has written a powerful and important book.”—Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe
“A thrilling journey through the twists and turns of cancer epidemiology, Toms River is essential reading for our times. Dan Fagin takes us on a breathtaking tour through a wide terrain of topics—cancer, the environment, carcinogenesis and prevention—yet manages to keep us engaged with deeply personal stories. He handles topics of great complexity with the dexterity of a scholar, the honesty of a journalist, and the dramatic skill of a novelist.”—Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:58 -0400)

Recounts the decades-long saga of the New Jersey seaside town plagued by childhood cancers caused by air and water pollution due to the indiscriminate dumping of toxic chemicals.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
10 wanted1 pay2 pay

Popular covers


Average: (4.23)
1.5 1
2.5 2
3 3
4 17
4.5 6
5 16


An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alumn

Toms River by Dan Fagin was made available through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Sign up to possibly get pre-publication copies of books.

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 100,845,718 books! | Top bar: Always visible