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Silent Spring

by Rachel Carson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,925811,531 (4.02)187
First published in 1962, Silent Spring can singlehandedly be credited with sounding the alarm and raising awareness of humankind's collective impact on its own future through chemical pollution. No other book has so strongly influenced the environmental conscience of Americans and the world at large.… (more)
Recently added byMnemonikos, RINIELA, TrilogyLib, wetickel, private library, DeclanM, froggy20, Psychedelic_Bee, TravisElise
Legacy LibrariesCarl Sandburg
  1. 20
    Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet by Derrick Jensen (SonoranDreamer)
    SonoranDreamer: Deep Green Resistance is a book about a strategy for those who are frustrated with the ongoing poisoning of our planet even after all this time after Silent Spring was published.
  2. 20
    Our poisoned planet: can we save it? by Joseph Newman (Hedgepeth)
  3. 10
    The Everglades: River of Grass by Marjory Stoneman Douglas (TheLittlePhrase)
  4. 10
    The War on Bugs by Will Allen (lemontwist)
  5. 01
    Sanctuary: The Story of Naturalist Mary Majka by Deborah Carr (ShelfMonkey)
  6. 01
    The Right to Be Cold: One Woman's Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet by Sheila Watt-Cloutier (thebookpile)
    thebookpile: In Silent Spring, Rachel Carson says that to get away from contamination from DDT and other harmful chemicals one would have to move to the far north, which at that time wasn't exposed to them. Ironically, 60 years later, the situation is almost reversed, as described by Sheila Watt-Cloutier in The Right to Be Cold.… (more)
  7. 14
    Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History by Florence Williams (changsbooks)
  8. 14
    Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear by Dan Gardner (Noisy)
    Noisy: Risk (Chapter 10) gives the counterpoint to Silent Spring, showing up the ignorance of probability and statistics embodied in the demonising of cancer. Rising relative rates of cancer - a disease of an aging population - also indicate a falling rate of diseases such as tuberculosis and enteritis.… (more)
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» See also 187 mentions

English (76)  Catalan (2)  German (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (80)
Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
The capacity for humans to not think through the ramifications of their choices on the environment and destroy it without meaning to do so inspired Rachel Carson's classic Silent Spring. In it, she traces the links between the rising use of pesticides and insecticides and the devastating consequences it has had for animal life in areas where application is wide-spread. Worse yet, it often doesn't accomplish the desired effect in the long term, which just encourages even heavier use. She doesn't flinch away from the fact that humans are animals, too, and highlights the issues that can arise for the people who live in the often-rural and therefore less-seen communities where these poisons are used most significantly. And since these people frequently eat locally-sourced meat and fish, the problem of biological magnification (animals eating food that has its own level of exposure, compounding with each step up the food chain) becomes even more pressing for them.

Carson writes all of this in strong, clear prose that first explains the concepts she's introducing and then illustrates them with examples of the devastating effects of poisons that are marketed as safe and effective on life, from plants all the way up to people. She doesn't condescend and though her urgency is clear, it doesn't feel alarmist or like a scare tactic. Instead, she presents her case that we need to start paying attention and questioning what we're told rigorously but understandably. Science writing often veers into the esoteric, and this book should be used an exemplar for how to write for the popular market without getting bogged down in details or sidetracked into areas more consequential for the author than the reader.

This book's continuing relevance even after it led to the the ban of DDT, the chemical she primarily discusses, is a result of both Carson's skill as a writer and the impact her work managed to have on the public. Not only did it take DDT off the market, it blazed the path that eventually led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency by President Nixon. Imaging a book being so popular and espousing its cause so effectively that it led to the creation of a new federal agency in today's world seems preposterous. All of that being said, this book wasn't an unqualified success for me. After a while, her constant use of examples of a chemical being introduced and the death of wildlife that followed started to feel repetitive, blunting its impact. And I found myself a bit skeptical of the rosiness with which she portrayed the alternative option of importing predators for invasive species control...to the best of my understanding, that can have harmful side effects of its own. All in all, though, this book is readable, relevant, and worth a perusal before you go nuts with the Round-Up on the dandelions. ( )
  GabbyHM | Jun 24, 2020 |
An exceptional book that hasn't aged a bit since it was published. It should be a compulsive read in every school, and every parent should know about it. Pesticides have changed since then, but we still have closets full of dangerous and toxic chemicals that do more harm to the nature and us as we're made to believe. ( )
  MissYowlYY | Jun 12, 2020 |
Scariest book I've ever read! (sorry Stephen King!) ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | May 17, 2020 |
Great!! This is a classic of the environmental movement, and I’d recommend it to anybody interested in the topic. Carson is a bit repetitive at times, and her wording can be confusing, but for the most part she does a great job at describing the situation and reasons to pressure change in the way we interact with our environment. This book is written about the chemicals we put into the world, but the mindset it pushes can be extended far beyond that. ( )
  meaqhan | May 1, 2020 |
I first read this in the l960s and remember well the furor around it. It helped me early on to see the dark stain in humanity. Yes, it was widely applauded, then we went back to business as usual painting ourselves in a corner. ( )
  LGCullens | May 1, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Carson, Rachelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Darling, LoisIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Darling, LouisIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gore, AlIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hitchen, JonathanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Huxley, JulianPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lazar, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lear, LindaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matthiessen, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shackleton, EdwardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, Edward O.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
The sedge is wither'd from the lake,
and no bird sings. Keats.
I am pessimistic about the human race because it is too ingenious for its own good. Our approach to nature is to beat it into submission. We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively instead of sceptically and dictatorially. E B White.
Dedication
To Albert Schweitzer who said "Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth.'
First words
In a letter written in January 1958, Olga Owens Huckins told me of her own bitter experience of a small world made lifeless, and so brought my attention sharply back to a problem with which I had long been concerned. (Acknowledgments)
There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to be in harmony with its surroundings. (1. A Fable for Tomorrow)
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Book description
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was first published in three serialized excerpts in the New Yorker in June of 1962. The book appeared in September of that year and the outcry that followed its publication forced the banning of DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Carson’s passionate concern for the future of our planet reverberated powerfully throughout the world, and her eloquent book was instrumental in launching the environmental movement. It is without question one of the landmark books of the twentieth century.

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See also the Wikipedia article.
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141184949, 0141391529

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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