Published on the fiftieth anniversary of her seminal book, Silent Spring, here is an indelible new portrait of Rachel Carson, founder of the environmental movement
She loved the ocean and wrote three books about its mysteries, including the international bestseller The Sea Around Us. But it was with her fourth book, Silent Spring, that this unassuming biologist transformed our relationship with the natural world.
Rachel Carson began work on Silent Spring in the late 1950s, when a dizzying array of synthetic pesticides had come into use. Leading this chemical onslaught was the insecticide DDT, whose inventor had won a Nobel Prize for its discovery. Effective against crop pests as well as insects that transmitted human diseases such as typhus and malaria, DDT had at first appeared safe. But as its use expanded, alarming reports surfaced of collateral damage to fish, birds, and other wildlife. Silent Spring was a chilling indictment of DDT and its effects, which were lasting, widespread, and lethal.
Published in 1962, Silent Spring shocked the public and forced the government to take action-despite a withering attack on Carson from the chemicals industry. The book awakened the world to the heedless contamination of the environment and eventually led to the establishment of the EPA and to the banning of DDT and a host of related pesticides. By drawing frightening parallels between dangerous chemicals and the then-pervasive fallout from nuclear testing, Carson opened a fault line between the gentle ideal of conservation and the more urgent new concept of environmentalism.
Elegantly written and meticulously researched, On a Farther Shore reveals a shy yet passionate woman more at home in the natural world than in the literary one that embraced her. William Souder also writes sensitively of Carson's romantic friendship with Dorothy Freeman, and of her death from cancer in 1964. This extraordinary new biography captures the essence of one of the great reformers of the twentieth century.
A New York Times Notable Book of 2012
“A suspenseful tale of the literary life…utterly inspiring.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Captivating…Souder writes vividly and with great empathy for his subject and her cause.” —New York Times Book Review
“A delightful, fascinating, engrossing read about some of the most important insights of modern science. You’ll find yourself thinking about Carson whenever you take a walk in the woods.” —Slate.com
Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a great book for those interested in the environmental movement and/or great and influential women in contemporary American history. It is billed as a biography of Rachel Carson, but it also turns out to be a comprehensive history of the American environmental movement with various tangents that take off on side issues. So it is not just a biography of Rachel Carson, but it does contain interesting documentation of inter-related other scientific developments. For the scientifically minded, the side-trips are worthwhile. For those who want only a biography of Rachel Carson, they may find it somewhat distracting.
Ms. Carson's EDGE OF THE SEA greatly influenced my decision to pursue a career in biology. As a result, I have read everything I could find about her over more than four decades. Mr. Souder added significantly to my knowledge of her. In my opinion, he described Rachel Carson as no other author has, making this biography of her the most extensive thus far, uneven as it sometimes seems to be. As I read his lead-in to her writing SILENT SPRING, I was irritated by his sudden tangential shift, moving without warning between two seemingly unrelated scientific topics -- so much so that I kept returning to the preceding pages to see what I had overlooked or missed. I even wondered if the editors had mistakenly omitted relevant material about the two very different topics. To future readers: Stay with him. By the time you finish the book, you will grasp clearly his reason for veering "off topic." Mr. Souder devotes a significant portion of the book to SILENT SPRING, and...
William Souder is a fabulous biographer who has done his research, cares about his subject matter and writes in a easy to read and enjoyable style. I was very familiar with Rachel Carson before reading his book, but learned much from it I didn't know. After reading it, I wish she were still around to be able to tackle so eloquently and passionately the global warming issues of today. What a pleasure it would have been to have spent some time with her walking the sea coasts and forests she know and loved so well. I also wish now that Mr. Souder's biography of John James Audubon was still readily available on Amazon.
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