Crabgrass Crucible: Suburban Nature and the Rise of Environmentalism in Twentieth-Century America

Overview

Although suburb-building created major environmental problems, Christopher Sellers demonstrates that the environmental movement originated within suburbs—not just in response to unchecked urban sprawl. Drawn to the countryside as early as the late 19th century, new suburbanites turned to taming the wildness of their surroundings. They cultivated a fondness for the natural world around them, and in the decades that followed, they became sensitized to potential threats. Sellers shows how the philosophy, science, ...

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Crabgrass Crucible: Suburban Nature and the Rise of Environmentalism in Twentieth-Century America

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Overview

Although suburb-building created major environmental problems, Christopher Sellers demonstrates that the environmental movement originated within suburbs—not just in response to unchecked urban sprawl. Drawn to the countryside as early as the late 19th century, new suburbanites turned to taming the wildness of their surroundings. They cultivated a fondness for the natural world around them, and in the decades that followed, they became sensitized to potential threats. Sellers shows how the philosophy, science, and emotions that catalyzed the environmental movement sprang directly from suburbanites' lives and their ideas about nature, as well as the unique ecology of the neighborhoods in which they dwelt.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The importance of Sellers' work cannot be overstated."—Treehugger.com

"Sets history on a new path."—Journal of American History

"Puts to rest the narrative of suburbia as a purely nature-destroying phenomenon. The challenge now is how we might exploit these low-density settlements for ecological and social benefit."—The Dirt

"Crabgrass Crucible is an important contribution to the culture of urbanization and to our understanding of how galvanized suburbanites forged a new environmental movement. It should be required reading."—Pacific Historical Review

"Seller's ecological narrative facilitates understanding how ordinary Americans, suffering from and, in some cases, overcoming consumer alienation in residential spaces, tamed nature and tamed themselves."—Environmental History

"The detailed analysis and narrative adopted by Sellers is impressive and convincing. Indeed, while this suburban-environmental relationship remains to be fully understood, Sellers goes a long way in the right direction."—Journal of Historical Geography

"Sellers reveals a suburban world filled with nature and with people coming to terms with it in meaningful ways. . . . It is difficult to come away from this book without new insights into environmentalism and mid-twentieth-century suburbs. . . . Not all readers will agree with Sellers' interpretation, but no reader can afford to ignore it."—Reviews in American History

"A deft scholarly pen flows with accessible prose, and the author's humanity shines through on every page."—Social History of Medicine

"Delivering significant insights and fearless observations in spirited prose, it is not only a highly engaging book but also an important one. . . . Exquisite historical detail."—Environment and History

"Highlighting the social complexity of the suburban environmental movement, showing its deeply local character, and illuminating changing ideas of nature, Crabgrass Crucible develops a strong argument for environmentalism sprouting in the suburbs."—American Historical Review
"Sellers's convincing and nuanced argument places the birthplace of the U.S. environmental movement in the suburbs of its largest cities. . . The accomplishments of Crabgrass Crucible are significant."—Technology and Culture

"Crabgrass Crucible covers a broad and important theme with insight, imagination, and literary distinction even while demonstrating enormous research, deep intelligence, and impressive conceptualization. It should be required reading for anyone with a passing interest in suburban, urban, or environmental history."—Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"The real treat of Sellers's book is his masterful use of oral histories with suburbanites to provide snapshot biographies ranging over class, race, and environment."—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

From the Publisher
"Crabgrass Crucible is an important contribution to the culture of urbanization and to our understanding of how galvanized suburbanites forged a new environmental movement. It should be required reading."
-Pacific Historical Review

"Historians have long known that America's suburbs were the birthplace of environmentalism. But this important book reconsiders why postwar suburbs mattered as both unique physical places as well as cultural spaces. The scholarship is cutting edge, the research prodigious, the analysis sharp, and the findings significant. Sellers says things that environmentalists and policymakers need to know."—Matthew Klingle, author of Emerald City: An Environmental History of Seattle

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807835432
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 6/18/2012
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,445,920
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher C. Sellers is associate professor of history at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

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