American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn

American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn

by Ted Steinberg

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“Ted Steinberg proves once again that he is a master storyteller as well as our foremost environmental historian.”—Mike DavisSee more details below


“Ted Steinberg proves once again that he is a master storyteller as well as our foremost environmental historian.”—Mike Davis

Editorial Reviews

Robert Sullivan
“The lawn is the centerpiece of the American Dream, and why wouldn’t we dream about our obsession? In American Green, Ted Steinberg explores the psychological, moral, economic, and, yes, even political implications of growing and mowing a lawn, a not at all academic act that turns out to be a blast. You may never picnic the same way again, but if you do, you will want to talk about it with your city councilman, if not your doctor.”
Publishers Weekly
Apartment-dwelling urbanites may be surprised to learn how significant lawn care is to the American economy, generating more than $10 billion in annual sales of pesticides, fertilizers and other products. Steinberg, an environmental historian, is aiming for the grassy equivalent of Fast Food Nation, with one key difference-while people know junk food isn't good for them, they may not be aware that most lawn care products are not only unnecessary but may actually harm soil and turf. He particularly damns the lawnmower industry, revealing how manufacturers "worked tirelessly to mislead the American public" for years in order to avoid the expense of installing safety features that could prevent severed fingers. Steinberg's subjects range from the postwar boom in suburban lawns to contemporary debates over noisy leaf blowers, and he mixes cultural history with personal lawn-related experiences in Long Island and Ohio, where some people maintain putting greens in their backyards. (Not surprisingly, Steinberg points out, golf courses are "the most intensively managed lawns in America.") There's plenty of muckraking outrage, but it's delivered in a friendly, engaging voice that might just win over skeptics. 40 illus. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Environmental historian Steinberg (Case Western Reserve Univ.) has written a fascinating account of lawns and our obsession with creating these smooth, thick carpets of greenery. Tracing their evolution from their British roots to today, he explores why people desire perfect lawns, the influence of lawn care companies, and how lawn maintenance costs us time, money, and effort while threatening environmental destruction. Pesticides contaminate the environment and endanger people and wildlife; power lawnmowers and riding mowers pollute and injure thousands every year. Leaf blowers annoy but are essential for those who work long hours caring for lawns. Steinberg also shares the difficulties faced by those who manage golf courses and details the high price of watering lawns, especially in times of drought or in dry areas of the country. He discusses our war on weeds and how those who enjoy native plant communities instead of lawns have to fight to keep them. Extensive endnotes conclude this highly readable and engaging book, which is recommended for public, academic, and horticultural libraries.-Sue O'Brien, Downers Grove P.L., IL Health & Medicine Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

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