24 May 2011

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

I remember being totally shocked when I first read this book.  The real life stories which Rachel Carson had weaved into her book of the effects of systemic insecticides, synthetic pesticides and other dangerous chemicals which we are subjected to during our entire life time and their effects on our health was a real eye opener for me and made the book all the more poignant.  It made me question our preoccupation with pest control to the detriment of the environment.  Also, our readiness to trust the chemical industry and unthinkingly endorse the campaign for mass chemical control without really understanding its short and long-term effects on our lives and its effects on the balance of ecology.   This book is a little technical in places, but despite that it is definitely worth persevering with it.  The message that Rachel Carson is trying to get across is of the utmost importance and has lasting repercussions.

"Silent Spring is a book written by Rachel Carson and published by Houghton Mifflin on 27 September 1962. The book is widely credited with helping launch the environmental movement.

The New Yorker started serializing Silent Spring in June 1962, and it was published in book form (with illustrations by Lois and Louis Darling) by Houghton Mifflin later that year. When the book Silent Spring was published, Rachel Carson was already a well-known writer on natural history, but had not previously been a social critic. The book was widely read—especially after its selection by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the New York Times best-seller list—and inspired widespread public concerns with pesticides and pollution of the environment. Silent Spring facilitated the ban of the pesticide DDT in 1972 in the United States.

The book documented detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment, particularly on birds. Carson accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation, and public officials of accepting industry claims uncritically.

Silent Spring has been featured in many lists of the best nonfiction books of the twentieth century. In the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Nonfiction it was at #5, and it was at #78 in the conservative National Review. Most recently, Silent Spring was named one of the 25 greatest science books of all time by the editors of Discover Magazine.

A follow-up book, Beyond Silent Spring, co-authored by H.F. van Emden and David Peakall, was published in 1996."

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